Here at Menck White we have spent an enormous amount of time testing, trialling and working with all of the different online auction solutions. There are many bidding apps and platforms available now: Zoom, Auctions Live, AuctionNow, Gavl, Google hangouts. But which is best?
Each different platform has different pros and cons. Some are strong in some areas and weaker in other areas. No one platform is a clear winner on all criteria, so it becomes a matter of gauging the strengths and weaknesses of each platform and in deciding what the most important functionality is to create auction success. And when you evaluate the platforms that way, there is a clear winner in our view.
Our experience has been that two-way interactive video is the key and decisive factor when it comes separating the different online platforms. The purpose built bidding apps have great compliance built into them but have only one directional video. So this means the buyers can see the auctioneer but they are unable to see each other and the auctioneer and agent are unable to see the buyers. Some of the apps also really struggle when it comes to stream quality, so the outbound video is often blurry. Conversely, the mass market video conferencing platforms (Zoom and Google hangouts) offer two-way interactive video meaning everyone can see everyone. They also have much more stable and higher quality video. This enables us to create a much more transparent environment and to replicate some of the key elements of an in-person auction that drive competitive bidding. The social proof of seeing and hearing someone else place a bid is powerful in the auction arena. For this reason we are seeing not only significantly better results on Zoom, but also faster results.
The anonymity that the bidding apps provide to buyers tends to result in slower bidding and often greater persistence of trying to bid in smaller increments. So you will often see auctions on bidding apps reported having over 100 bids placed and take upwards of 40 minutes. Whereas via zoom our average number of bids is very similar to our on-site auctions and they are typically over in about 20 minutes because they run much more efficiently.
One other key feature of Zoom is the green screen functionality built into the system. When used in conjunction with a green screen background, Zoom is able to create a digital environment that looks and sounds very professional and has an aesthetically attractive interface. The auctioneer can appear to be standing in front of a sharp image of the property, a bit like a weatherman. This premium quality appearance stands head and shoulders above the appearance of any of the other solutions and tends to elevate price perception and brand quality perception.
Key factors that matter in weighing up the strengths of each platform:
- Simplicity of user experience
- Appearance and aesthetics
- Amount of compliance work generated (registrations, bidding records etc)
- Video quality and stability
- Video functionality - two-way vs one-directional
- Interactivity & Flexibility
- Effectiveness in achieving the highest price
- Efficiency in terms of speed and time
While the purpose built bidding apps are strong on simplicity and compliance, they lag behind on the other criteria. Our experience has been the Zoom offers superior functionality and achieves superior results in less time. So when you are booking your next online auction, be sure to ask your agent what technology platform their auctioneer is using and don't be afraid to speak up and express a preference.