July 18, 2019

First, let me plainly state that I am not a lawyer. Nothing stated here should be construed as actionable legal advice. 

Few organizations in real estate have been more adamant about content creation and, perhaps more importantly, content ownership than WellcomeMat. We are plainly and forever on the side of content creators and content owners because, simply put, content is King and Queen. Their Princess’ name is data.   

Some argue that listing syndication is a ship already sailed, a foregone debate where the winners have already been named. For rich media, however, the battle is just beginning or, it sure as hell should be. Zillow just announced that the Zestimate, the thing that Stan Humphries (Chief Analytics Officer & Chief Economist at Zillow) describes as “the bedrock of [Zillow’s] business,” is now taking cues and signals from imagery to more accurately determine the price of homes.  

For our partners and customers, we have always operated upon the plain fact that the winners of rich media--whether we are talking about quality, quantity of media assets or distribution--will be the winners of the digital future of real estate. Ponder the following slide from Mary Meeker’s tech report. What do the two fastest-growing platforms have in common?

Source: https://www.bondcap.com/#view/47

Rich media has always been ground zero for any company looking to gain digital share. Today, for example, 50% of all Twitter’s impressions are on images, video and other media. So, whether brokers and brands are thinking about the power of data associated with their media OR the simple fact that videos and photos are what pull consumers to their sites in the most primal way, this industry must get serious. What does it mean to be serious about media assets and distribution?

First, make sure that you are on top of your game with copyrights. Ensure you have the right to leverage visual media assets and know what your limitations are. For example, make sure that if you are distributing or uploading media assets to third-party sites, you are not unknowingly/unlawfully granting rights that you do not have to those third parties. If, for example, you see language in terms of service (TOS) that say that you are granting that service/platform the rights to create derivative works or the ability to redistribute and you are not sure if you have the right to proceed, check with the creator of the media. 

Secondly, in terms of distribution, it is going to get more and more important to fingerprint your media. A fingerprint is essentially an invisible (to web users) “fingerprint” that allows you to identify your media downstream. Fingerprinting media is useful, yes, to identify unlawful uses of your media, but it is also huge in regards to version control and metadata association. For example, if the version of your video, its description and other important information that you want used on other sites is version 3.0 and the version being used is 1.0, that is a problem and surely an issue with how you are distributing your media. 

More info about media fingerprinting here...

A lot of us lost sight of control as it relates to rich media. Let's forgive ourselves and do better. We get more views, for example, on Facebook when we upload media to FB. Uploading your videos there instead of posting embed codes yields greater consumer reach/higher views, but in almost every case where you are uploading actual files to platforms, you are granting them rights over your media. It's hard to believe that this is not purposeful on the part of the platforms because they surely know the game (see the title of this post), but so many of us take the largest content investments we make and simply give our power away. 

Whether you are with WellcomeMat as a customer or not, the way that media ownership/distribution should be for those creating and investing in photos, videos and 3D should look something like the following:

1. Creators (photographers, filmmakers etc) are properly attributed with their media. It is not ok for creatives to not be able to build better companies because they are not being associated to the media they create. Not cool.

2. Distribution is managed in one place, with full version control and de-activation capabilities. If you have a new version of a video, that version should populate anywhere you have chosen to have your media represented. When you want to take down a video from X, Y or Z platform, you should not have to visit each platform to do it. 

3. Analytics: analytics should be aggregated within the system(s) you use to manage your media. Everyone talks about the value of data...what good is it to have your analytics pieced out across 10 different platforms? How will you make informed decisions?

The verdict about rich media has been in for a long time. It is everything in regards to building traffic, audience and engagement. Our hope is that people get a lot smarter about how they proceed because we have all seen what happens with careless media distribution -- it is not pretty for the little guys and gals and every newly uploaded file makes it harder to compete in the future. We can all do better!

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