Sotheby’s International Realty’s Kevin Thompson: “We Want to Create a Connection with Consumers Before They Even Think About Selling a Home”

What: Portada talked with Kevin Thompson, Chief Marketing Officer Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates LLC about the global firm’s recent triumphs in digital marketing.
Why it matters: The “digital first” approach to marketing by the Sotheby's International Realty brand is winning the firm kudos for its groundbreaking use of video, virtual and augmented reality and will be featured at Portada’s Data & Content Marketing Forum April 3.

Kevin Thompson is on a roll, and Sotheby’s International Realty is reaping the benefits of his “digital first” approach to the venerable firm’s marketing, raising the bar in the industry and connecting with consumers in new and highly personalized ways.

Last year, Sotheby’s International Realty achieved the Silver Creator Award for its YouTube channel that has more than 179,000 subscribers. The channel is the most subscribed YouTube channel in the real estate industry, but Thompson’s digital-first vision hasn’t stopped there. Under his leadership, Sotheby’s International Realty has launched new and powerful ways for connecting with consumers, leveraging AR and VR technology to make home purchasing more personalized than ever before.

Portada: What do you mean by a “digital first” approach to marketing and how has it evolved at Sotheby’s International Realty under your leadership?

Thompson: Prior marketing campaigns at Sotheby’s International Realty had been print first. Our affiliates designed mostly for print. But today, in the modern marketing landscape, if you’re not creating video, if you are not creating digital assets, you are really not marketing anymore. We have a digital approach first now, so when we are creating a new advertising campaign, the first assets we create are digital. One example is a digital search banner we use that is geographically targeted with drop-down menus. Those run on our partner websites, such as Architectural Digest, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, etc. We also have templates for social media for our entire network and we use a cloud-based ad building tool called Design Vault. We have created 1,500 templates which we’ve uploaded to Design Vault where agencies and affiliates can customize them.

Sotheby’s International Realty’s Kevin Thompson will be a featured speaker at #PortadaNYData on April 3 when he will provide insights into how brand marketers are unlocking new data and content opportunities.

The big crowning achievement for us in terms of digital assets for our agents was the launch of Curate. We were tapped by Google to build an AR virtual staging app that would be part of the relaunch of Google’s AR core. So, we worked with a phenomenal partner to create an AR virtual staging application for agents. The application allows any users, and not just agents, to scan a home’s interior and then place items, like furniture and décor accessories, into the scan and them see how they appear in the home in 3D reality. Curate can be downloaded at the Google Play and Apple app stores. Tens of thousands of people have downloaded and are using the Curate virtual staging app on their own which is amazing for us to have that level of brand interaction with consumers. It’s a phenomenal experience that we find deeply engaging for agents and consumers and allows us to engage consumers in a lifestyle conversation that other real estate brands can’t really do. Sotheby’s International Realty is the first real estate brand to launch an augmented reality application for a brand of our caliber. With virtual and augmented reality, we can create this 360-degree experience for consumers where they get a sense of what it’s going to feel like to live in the space.

With virtual and augmented reality, we can create this 360-degree experience for consumers where they get a sense of what it’s going to feel like to live in the space.

Portada: How have the cutting-edge virtual augmented reality tools being used by Sotheby’s International Realty actually increased your connection with both clients and potential clients?

Thompson: We have over 30,000 downloads of Curate so far, and we have agent testimonials saying they were able to secure the listing by using the application. Curate is available for the public to use as its wants. If someone wants to use the best virtual staging app out there, they can download Curate. We are interested in creating a brand connection with consumers even before they are thinking about selling a home.

We are interested in creating a brand connection with consumers even before they are thinking about selling a home.

Portada: How is Sotheby’s International Realty leveraging AR and VR to get better data on consumers?

Thompson: We’ve established partnerships with home furnishing and décor brands whose merchandise can be used with the Curate to place in the home for consumers to see what the home would look like with their lifestyle, design and accessory choices. We can then tell how many times specific room sets get used, the most popular furnishing brands with users, and the application is even shoppable. Users can click through on Curate to actually make purchases of the furniture or décor items they staged their rooms with.

Portada: Has Sotheby’s International Realty’s cutting-edge use of digital technology to connect with consumers actually improved sales?

Thompson: Yes. 1000%!

Mark A. Browne

Mark A. Browne is Portada's Marketing Innovation Editor. He is a bilingual (English-Spanish) writer, media relations manager, and content creation professional with an established record providing journalism, copywriting and analytical content services to major publishers, PR agencies and businesses in the United States, Latin America and Europe. His award-winning career as a reporter and editor includes daily and weekly newspaper experience and free-lance writing for major print and online publications.

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