The world of online real estate listings is plagued by a major issue - inappropriate use of images with logos or watermarks. Imagine seeing an image of a property with a Century 21 sign in the front yard, posted on the Coldwell Banker website. This not only breeds confusion but also raises credibility questions for the hosting website.
The problem isn't confined to brand mix-ups though – it extends to fraudulent listings too. By some estimates, over 40% of listings on major internet listing sites (ILS) are fraudulent. We saw this firsthand while doing market research. We found a listing for an apartment on Craigslist that didn’t quite look like it was in Chicago. Later the same day, we tested in a completely different market – St Louis – and found the EXACT same unit listed. All the photos and the description were the same, but this time the address was in a market 4 hours away. One of them was clearly fake. If we encountered this looking at only two markets, imagine how widespread the problem must be.
Historically, it’s been an uphill battle to detect and police this behavior in listings – but the advent of computer vision and AI offers a promising solution. By employing these technologies, we can flag images posted on websites by uninvited real estate agents and help effectively manage online property listings.
The Challenge of Logo and Watermark Detection in Listings
The key to determining the authenticity of a photograph lies in the visual identifiers on the image.
Most photographers and companies place watermarks and logos on pictures they distribute across the internet. Watermarks are transparent objects overlaid on images, often placed in the middle of a photograph, serving as a deterrent against unauthorized use. However, they can become an eyesore, proven to detract from the user experience and reduce conversions. In severe cases, they can even trigger legal issues.
Logos, on the other hand, promote brand visibility and protect images from unsanctioned redistribution. Yet, fraudsters and unscrupulous competitors may misuse them. They might place logos arbitrarily on photographs, vary their sizes, or create low-quality logos that negatively impact the visual appeal of online platforms. This not only results in unprofessional-looking images, but also allows the fraudsters to exploit these internet portals, which often host thousands of images.
The end result? Unwitting companies end up inadvertently promoting unscrupulous businesses.
The Power of Computer Vision & AI in Logo and Watermark Detection
Here's where computer vision and AI come into play. Our proprietary technology at HelloData.ai effectively identifies, tags, and flags images with non-conforming watermarks and logos. Using the latest breakthroughs in computer vision, our unique watermark model spots images and videos containing artificially added watermarks, logos, and text overlays.
It's a challenging task because of the unique nature of logos and the subtle integration of watermarks into images. Our algorithm efficiently differentiates between these elements and the original picture, however, and flags non-conforming watermarks and logos for review. With these tools, real estate brokers and MLS administrators are empowered to take action.
Leveraging Computer Vision & AI: The Benefits
So why implement an automated system to flag watermarked images and logos in real estate images? Here are just some of the benefits:
- Improved User Engagement - Studies show images without watermarks can get up to 4x higher click-through rates, directly translating into better user engagement.
- Lower Risk – There are often fines for misuse of logos or false advertising on multiple listing services, and as we’ve learned from talking with MLS administrators, there’s an army of “listing trolls” who threaten legal action for violations. Automatically catching these problems can significantly reduce risk.
- Efficient Content Management - Automated detection allows your teams to spot several times more unwanted content, helping in maintaining the integrity of your website.
- Resource Allocation - With automation taking care of detection, your teams can focus their resources on higher value-added tasks.
Our algorithms are flexible enough to be tailored to specific requirements. If completely prohibiting watermarks isn't feasible, we can configure our algorithm to detect only watermarks exceeding a certain size or located in a particular area of an image.
We utilize OCR (Object Character Recognition) technology to read the content of any detections, ensuring we only flag the items that are important to your business.
HelloData.ai is poised to revolutionize the real estate industry by leveraging cutting-edge AI and computer vision technologies. Through our innovative and flexible algorithms, we are committed to enhancing the quality of online property listings, restoring credibility to real estate platforms, and championing a new era of transparency and authenticity in the digital real estate marketplace.
Check how we are using AI to find best comps: Rent Comps