The Data Distribution Dilemma, Part IV

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Q&A

Onboard’s Listings 360°Insight is an evolution in Listings distribution; a comprehensive platform delivering benefit and operational enhancement to parties involved in the listing distribution process. With evolution come questions - lots of them! The purpose of this final blog in our series is to publicly answer some of the most common questions we’ve received from MLS’s we’re working with, hopefully providing  a deeper level of insight to MLSs reading these blogs and thinking about the same things.

In the near future we will launch a series of educational webinars for different stakeholders (Brokers, Developers, Publishers, etc.).  I’ll be posting more information on that shortly.

Q:  What are the key benefits of moving to API data distribution instead of via RETS or FTP?

A: The current mode of transport - delivering complete data sets - has caused a number of challenges when applied to internet-based data distribution. In addition to more selective distribution control and monitoring, an API data distribution model delivers an unprecedented level of usage reporting potential; truly providing MLSs, Brokers, Agents, Developers and Consumers with transparency to assist in a broad level of decisions.

Q: Does this replace syndication with networks like ListHub or Point2?

A: Not at all, our system is simply an access and tracking platform that we plan to integrate with syndication networks, incorporating their usage statistics into one unified suite of reports. Customers of those networks will continue to use them as they do now to manage their syndication efforts while enjoying the ability to view activity from those networks alongside all other web traffic to listings.

Q: I’m concerned about migrating our Brokers (of varying technical capability) AND the number of data licensees we have over to the Listings 360°Insight API; we have limited staff.

A: In addition to working closely with each MLS to develop a unique implementation roadmap focused on goals and objectives, Onboard will provide a number of developer resources, assisting throughout the transition. As adoption increases, the number of migrating developers will decrease

Q: This solution is only for the largest MLSs in the country.  I am a small MLS, so this isn’t for me.

A: Think again. The problems caused by the current data distribution methods don’t discriminate.  This is an industry problem that impacts every stakeholder in each and every US market. Learn about what’s available to you and take action.

Q: What about performance and reliability? If I don’t have the data on my servers, I won’t be able to deliver the performance my clients expect. And, my system needs to be up 24x7x365.

A: The system is built to support millions of daily searches with sub-second response time.  When factoring Internet transport time, there may be very slight speed differences that are completely unnoticeable, from a consumer perspective.  Again, remember how many APIs (such as the maps on your website right now) typical websites use today.

Chances are you’re already relying on third party hosting providers for numerous systems and even your own system hosting.  The platform, hosted SAS 70 Type II data centers, experiences uptime in excess of 99.9% and is supported by round-the-clock professionals.  Do IT systems ever go down?  Of course. But especially in this case you have someone on the hook to keep things running smooth and to get things fixed quickly in the event something goes wrong.

Q:  How can this possibly support all my specialized search functions?

A: We realize there may be some very specialized functionality you have already built. However, we’ve yet to have something thrown at us that can’t be accomplished with the search API.  Textual search? In there.  Geographic searches like radius, standard and custom polygons…got it.  Unique search filters like “handyman special”, REO, foreclosure, city view, water front…you name it, we’ve done it. Search by any type of area including address, ZIP code, County, even neighborhood.  Yes, yes, yes, yes, and then some. We’ve even thrown in some unique capabilities like search based on commute time and search for listings near desired amenities like parks and playgrounds. Look, we’re not saying that we’ve covered every base out there. But the stand-out real estate website providers aren’t differentiating themselves on search. They’re differentiating on the great user experience, seamless integration with lead capture and management and outstanding tools to help agents and brokers get noticed. So this model helps to keep the focus squarely on what matters most.

Wel, we've reached the end of our four-part blog series; this end marks the beginning of an exciting time for us all. We'll be kicking off the weekend with a very exciting announcement tomorrow and then, it's off the the Capital! I look forward to a lively day at the CMLS session and hope to engage with new and existing connections in DC. Safe travels everyone!

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons