SAN FRANCISCO …When Boubou Guiro wanted to find a new home in Sausalito, Calif., in 2010, he did what any consumer would do: he turned to the Internet.
After scouring dozens of listings online and spending his Saturdays and Sundays visiting properties in person, Guiro came away frustrated. The pictures he reviewed online just didn’t match up with the properties he saw in person.
All of the photo tours seemed to leave out key details wanted to see, like whether there was a great view, gourmet kitchen or a big backyard. Still images just seemed flat and uninformative.
Ultimately, he did find a new place to live after a long search. But instead of writing off the terrible experience he’d had while looking for a new home, he decided to change the process.
For the last two years, Guiro, a former product manager for CBS Interactive, has been building a new video marketing platform for agents, brokers and filmmakers. His goal: Get high quality video into every single listing everywhere.
In April, Guiro’s solution, Onvedeo, launched with a sleek and mobile-friendly interface, with built-in syndication to Trulia, Craigslist, Trovit, Mitula, Yakaz, Housingblock and CLR Search. Guiro says more syndication partners will be added in the coming weeks.
Guiro is the founder and CEO, and has a small team working on the platform in San Francisco. He has invested his life savings into the venture, and has secured additional capital from an angel investor who also happens to be a prominent real estate developer in San Francisco. A seed round is coming soon.
“Video is 53 times more effective than text, and web site visitors spend ten times more time on a site that has video” Guiro explains, citing stats from the National Association of Realtors and other sources. “Eight out of 10 people watched a video online in 2012. Yet very few agents use video properly because it’s either hard or they just don’t know how. Onvedeo solves that.”
Easy to Use
“We wanted to make Onvedeo easy to use, with a clean look and an emphasis on mobile,” Guiro explains. “Onvedeo is an answer to a specific problem. Every agent agrees that video is the future — but virtually all of the video solutions that are used in real estate are built outside of real estate so they don’t really meet the needs of the industry. Onvedeo is the first video solution for real estate that’s simple to use, easy to syndicate and beautiful.”
Guiro surveyed dozens of agents and brokers and realized that ease of use would have to be the cornerstone of Onvedeo’s platform.
“You can’t make it complicated and expect agents and brokers to embrace it,” Guiro continues. “You have to make it easy to create the content, get it online and then provide analytics so they can see how it’s performing.”
Onvedeo will ultimately offer a white-labeled portal for brokers that will enable agents to easily upload video and syndicate it on their own website and others.
Create Your Own, Or Hire Onvedeo
With Onvedeo, agents can create their own videos using iPhones or iPads (Android support coming soon) and upload them to the platform. For the immediate future, the platform is free to agents to use, although as the service adds users it will begin to charge a monthly subscription fee from $29-50 per month after a two-week free trial. Guiro didn’t say when the free period would end, although with several hundred users on the platform now, it’s possible that the free ride may end soon.
There is another way to add video to Onvedeo. Guiro is building a network of filmmakers to help agents and brokers who either don’t want to — or can’t — film their own videos.
Although pricing is variable based on the type of video and the location in which it is shot, Guiro expects that the least expensive videos offered through Onvedeo will start at $150 for a 2-3 minute basic property tour with a stock score and no voiceover.
However, Guiro plans to offset this fee if an agent or broker uses one of the filmmakers in his network to produce a video. In this case, the subscription fee will be waived for a set period, because the video will be produced through Onvedeo.
Guiro is forming national partnerships now with established video production houses to ensure that the quality of the video is of good.
While the notion of building a filmmaker network within real estate is not new (think Wellcome Mat or the now-defunct Turn Here), Guiro says his concept is different because Onvedeo will vet the quality of the filmmakers’ work before allowing them to participate in the network. Another important point: If a user chooses to produce a video through Onvedeo, the final product is always the agent’s property.
“I want good quality video, everywhere,” Guiro says. “Our platform depends on it. And agents and brokers always own the content.”
What sets Onvedeo apart, Guiro says, is that Onvedeo is about making sure that the right video gets to the right places — where consumers are actually searching for houses.
“We’re making sure that our users’ videos are where they should be,” Guiro says. “What’s important is to have the videos where consumers are searching for houses, instead of where they’re just searching for videos.”
Easy to Tag, Automatic Syndication
Quality concerns aside, once a video is ready to be uploaded to Onvedeo it’s a simple process. The user uploads directly from a mobile device using the Onvedeo Pro mobile app (free in the Apple App Store) or via the browser on a personal computer. The user then completes a dialog to describe and tag the video. Tags include price, bedrooms, bathrooms, status (for sale, for rent, etc.), address, city, state, zip and MLS ID, and agent contact details, among others.
Once the user enters a description of the property, and selects a thumbnail for the video, it’s ready to be published and syndicated. Users can also add still images of their properties to accompany the video.
Onvedeo automatically syndicates the video and pictures to most of its partners via a nightly XML feed. However, Onvedeo users can’t control which portals receive which videos, which may present an issue down the road as the service grows in popularity and there are more syndication partners.
Guiro says more precise syndication controls are planned for users, although for the moment the automatic syndication automatically sorts which listings are appropriate for which aggregators based on their status (for sale, rent, etc.).
Aggregators use the address and MLS ID number to match the video to the correct listing on their portals.
Craigslist is the exception: users must manually post their videos to Craigslist using Onvedeo’s special posting tool, as Craigslist doesn’t permit automatic syndicated posting. Guiro notes that Onvedeo’s Craigslist tool instantly posts to the service — it’s just not automatic.
On Trulia, the Onvedeo videos are published as a live link that clicks through to the agent’s profile page on Onvedeo. In the future, Guiro hopes to have the video embedded right within the property listing.
As of this writing, Onvedeo does not syndicate to Zillow or Realtor.com, but Guiro’s team is working hard to develop more syndication partnerships.
A future “deep” integration is in the works for YouTube. Users can also easily embed the video onto their own sites by simply cutting and pasting the embed code.
Built for Mobile
Once the video is in Onvedeo’s content management system, it’s processed into multiple formats so that it plays back smoothly regardless of device.
“Mobile is obviously the future,” Guiro says. “In some ways, it may be more important than traditional desktops. We knew we had to optimize for the mobile experience.”
Guiro invested heavily in developing an easy-to-use mobile app to create content for Onvedeo, and to enable users to manage their accounts from anywhere. Users of the mobile app can shoot and upload a three minute overview of a property directly to Onvedeo. For the moment, however, these uploads are “as-is” and are not editable within the mobile app itself.
Onvedeo encodes the incoming footage into nine formats and sizes, including Flash, HTML5 and others.
“We are a powerful content delivery network,” Guiro says. “Most important, we make it easy for users to deploy video flawlessly, because we take care of the compression.”
Guiro is also targeting brokers with a white-labeled product that features a branded, map-based search for all of a broker’s properties on Onvedeo. The broker solution offers automatic integration of all of the broker’s videos on their property pages, plus a broker-only dashboard with more in-depth analytics as to the videos’ performance.
The broker product is being offered at fixed monthly rate for small to medium-sized brokers, depending on the number of agents. For large brokers (which Guiro is still defining), the monthly fee will be waived and the only cost will be a discounted monthly agent plan based on the number of users on the Onvedeo platform. All broker pricing will be based on team size.
Onvedeo will also offer brokers video marketing packages that will include video production, hosting and distribution, although the cost of these packages will vary by location and number of videos to be produced.
User Profiles, Analytics
Back at Onvedeo, every agent receives a free profile page that includes their picture, location and contact information. This profile page contains all of their property videos. If an agent is logged in, they’ll get analytics about the performance of their videos.
The profile also contains a lead capture form, enabling agents to gather leads if consumers happen upon their Onvedeo profile page. But Guiro says that he is not trying to build a destination for consumers for real estate videos.
Rather, he sees Onvedeo as a real estate video marketing platform suitable for individual agents, as well as brokers.
“I want to make Onvedeo a turnkey solution to create and publish video on the sites that matter,” Guiro explains. “I want agents, brokers and filmmakers focused on creating quality content, first and foremost. And I want Onvedeo to distribute and syndicate the content in the easiest possible way so that the content creators don’t have to think about it.”
Guiro says that agents and brokers should think of Onvedeo as a full-service video marketing platform and partner, first and foremost. Onvedeo’s core services include video production, hosting and distribution. Guiro envisions Onvedeo as a video portal and repository for brokers, agents and filmmakers, populated by massive quantities of great quality video.