What is a listing?

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It struck me the other day when reading a comment from a reader to the various articles regarding the reaction by the real estate industry to Trade Me Property new pricing structure for property, that part of the problem is in someways the words we use and the connotation they infer, borne of age-old experience.

Think about it for a moment, the heart of the discussion is around the notion of the cost / value of a listing. But what is a listing?

So much of our approach to this issue is governed by our old-media thinking. Newspapers still instruct our frame of reference. A listing in a newspaper was governed by column inches. Simply a list of articles for sale (in this case a house). Page after page of the newspaper were full of 'listings' - probably given the 6 column structure of newspapers you would have close on 100 house listings on a page. Such layout in simple black newsprint text could do nothing to provide more than the bare facts - suburb, size, features (though limited) and contact details or open home details. 

As such this basic listing, charged on a per inch basis was never expected to be significant as a true 'advert' for the property, it was simply a inclusion in a stock list. To achieve impact and draw attention of buyers it was necessary to pay for advertising in the form of 1/4 page 1/2 page or full page adverts with photos. In rough terms of cost a listing might cost $30 and full page advert $1,000.

So the use of the word 'listing' in the context of the web is entirely misleading for the costs of a 'listing on Trade Me Property' today costs upwards of $399 but delivers more than the $1,000 full page advert of old. Full colour images, comprehensive details, maps and social insight, contact details and contextual data. Not to forget that the advert is targeted to all property buyers and is seen by an audience of over 100,000 a day - challenge to any newspapers audience at the height of their era. It is also significantly important to remember that the advertising for the property is active 24hrs a day to a global audience until sold - the listing in the newspaper was classically there on Saturday and in the trash by Sunday morning.

So whilst somewhat over simplifying the situation - if we thought of a 'listing' on a website as an advertising feature or a webpage advert we might redefine our frame of reference and squabble less over the price of a listing and think more of the value of the advertising.

Interestingly though, now with over a third of viewing of property on mobile devices we should stake a new term entirely. How about a properties "Digital Profile". In that way you can pay $399 for the digital profile on Trade Me Property and then choose to do an enhanced Feature advert or Super Feature advert upgrade, which is interestingly not 30 times the cost of the old newspaper listing - why? because the basic "Digital Profile" delivers so much more advertising value!.