A few weeks ago Clareity was invited to participate in the CMLS branding workshop and I put my head down to help my colleagues who could attend and present. My focus was on the development of ideas surrounding two different approaches: MLS certified listings and MLS certified websites.
Taking a step back, why create these certifications? At the certified listing level, it help consumers differentiate between MLS listings – presumed most accurate – and others. At the website level, it would provide another tool for MLSs to leverage to promote additional rule adherence and “industry friendliness”. I’ll come back to that point.
The first idea, MLS certified listings, would involve branding the listing content based primarily on accuracy criteria. That’s the most straightforward approach, and is one some non-MLS organizations have been proceeding on.
The second idea would be to provide an “MLS Seal of Approval” assigned primarily to members and MLS public websites. Only brokers and agents who are members are eligible for the seal, which would require compliance with all IDX/VOW rules and display of last data refresh date. The seal could also possibly be provided to other sites that meet criteria beyond listing accuracy – sites that are industry friendly, following Clareity’s Syndication Bill of Rights or some variation to be determined.
- Listing firm contact info
- Links to source
- Clearly identify agent/firm contact info
- Ensure data accuracy and freshness
- Display freshness and provider of data
- IP rights belong to source provider of the data
- Re-syndication requires consent of data provider
- Provider aggregate traffic stats to data provider
- Prevent screen scraping
- Publisher is responsible for sites they syndicate to
For more information on the Syndication Bill of Rights, see http://www.callclareity.com/SyndicationToRealEstatePortals.pdf
What about what’s happening today, with non-MLSs creating certifications? While I appreciate them doing something while MLSs have been slow to move, I think there needs to be one certification, controlled by an organization of MLSs. If not here’s an illustration of the dangers:
Why would MLS put up with a fragmented brand for, and significance of, certified listings? It’s bad for MLS and creates consumer confusion.
The rest are tactical details – creating a brand and seal, creating requirements for dynamic logo size and placement, creating a tracking API so MLSs get statistics on listing views and other activities (likely coordinated with the RETS “Activity Payload” being defined), building a certification organizational and technical infrastructure, etc.
I think there’s a lot of good that can come out of MLS certification and seal development and look forward to further discussion.
Signing off for now … boarding for Anaheim!
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