Government investigation into Zillow co-advertising

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) has ended its investigation into whether the Zillow Group violated the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) and Section 1036 of the Consumer Financial Protection Act with its co-marketing program for agents and lenders, according to a form Zillow filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The co-marketing program allows Zillow Premier Agents to invite lenders to share advertising costs and appear alongside them as “Premier Lenders.” That arrangement could have exposed agents to legal liability if regulators found that agents were not paying their fair share of the advertising spend. CFPB was considering whether this setup violated the anti-kickback provision of RESPA and the section of the Consumer Financial Protection Act that prohibits anyone from helping financial service providers deceive customers.

An office within CFPB notified Zillow it was considering whether to recommend legal action in February 2017. The bureau and Zillow spent the past several months going back and forth to reach a settlement. The CFPB told Zillow on Friday that the investigation was complete and that the bureau did not intend to take enforcement action.

“We are pleased the CFPB has concluded their inquiry into our co-marketing program,” Zillow said in a statement. “As we have said before, it is long-standing practice for agents and lenders to advertise together, and we are glad they can continue to do so through Zillow Group’s advertising platform. Our mission has always been to arm consumers with information that helps them make smarter financial decisions, which this program does by providing consumers with an easy way to connect with agents and lenders.”

Zillow likely benefited from the switch from the Obama to the Trump administration in this case, according to litigation analyst Thomas Claps of Susquehanna Financial Group.

Does advertising industry lost its soul?

According to Mumbrella Asia, when I was five, I was most happy when I got to draw and paint with my grandmother. When I was 14, I was most happy during still-life art class staring at an eggplant trying to capture the light on its curves.

When I was 21, I was most happy when I quit university to join art school, disappointing every member of my family. When I graduated from art school, I was happy even if I thought I would be designing greeting cards for the rest of my life.

Till today, I never doubt that this is who I am and what I was meant to do. I believe many people in our industry would feel the same. Like musicians, we are the lucky few in the world that get to make a living from just being who we are and doing what we love. We may not be the next Michelangelo but we have the gift of creativity, which not everyone gets to hone. We have this special ability to solve problems with a heart.

As our industry advanced to find solutions more efficiently with programmatic, machine-learning and more, we stood by and watched with ignorance for a long time. Until today, we live in uncertainty and fear that we will be replaced. It is more important than ever to remind ourselves of why we are in our roles today, the gift we have and the value we bring. We cannot and should not ignore the role of technology. But if brands need to speak to people, only humans can do that best because:

  • Machines have data. But we have feelings.
  • Machines will predict. But we have instincts.
  • Machines will repeat. But we surprise.
  • Machines can make moving images. But we create films.
  • Machines mix sound. But we create songs.
  • Machines perform jobs. But we build relationships.

Technology is here to enhance our lives, not replace it. But more often these days, we’ve become just great ‘salesmen’ of machines. In the flurry to embrace technology, we’ve completely lost ourselves.

What Advertisement clients want

According to PDN, Maren Levinson, founder of the agency Redeye, asked fellow reps and an art buyer why creating treatments has become such a common and important part of the bidding process in the last five years. “We now create treatments even if we are not asked for them,” Levinson says. She asserts that they are yet one more opportunity to show what you are about and the rigor of your creative and production package.

What are treatments exactly? Most of the time they are a 5-10 page PDF with:

  • Intro/Statement
  • Approach/Lighting Technique/Team (Production, Styling, Sets)
  • Casting
  • Reference/Mood Boards/Inspiration. Artists often include their own applicable work as well, marked as such.

Levinson, Carol LeFlufy of Eye Forward and other reps describe just how much time, thought—and also money, if a photographer chooses to hire a copywriter—can go into a treatment, with no guarantee of getting the job. “The good news is that once they have a well-designed template, artists can tweak their treatments for future jobs and customize them according to each bid—be it a motion bid, a stills bid, or a combo of both.”

PDN asked freelance art buyer Karen Meenaghan to concoct a fictitious commercial assignment, then asked two reps to prepare bids for the job. We listened in on their pre-estimate calls. Meenaghan’s brief called for various executions for a “hero” image for print use, including out-of-home advertising, where to buy liquor.

In addition, the brief called for 20 “inset” images for online use, including social media. Meenaghan told Rep2 that the estimate should increase to $120,000 to $130,000 because the estimates for several important line items were too low. “There’s a [bottom line] amount that’s to the bone, and there’s an amount that allows you some wiggle room for bumps in the road,” Meenaghan says.

Cheap PC games in 2018

  • Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

The first self-published release by Ninja Theory follows the travails of a female Pict warrior, as she travels to the Nordic version of hell to rescue the soul of her dead lover. Part fantasy action adventure, part psychological horror, the game is notable for its representation of the lead character’s psychosis, which both helps and hinders her progress.

However, reviews focused largely on the game’s combat and puzzle elements, which were cited as being repetitive, as well as the game’s relatively short length. But you shouldn’t let these minor irritations prevent you from sampling this beautiful, haunting and thoroughly thought-provoking fantasy, the liquor store near me.

  • Ghost Recon: Wildlands

You might think it odd to include one of Ubisoft’s major releases here, a game that stole the show at CES 2015 when it was unveiled. But on release, this tactical multiplayer shooter received mixed reviews, with the press commenting on the game’s repetitive missions and familiarity to other games in the Ubisoft canon. The early beta also received negative feedback from players, who slammed the game’s political stance, clichéd writing, endless collectibles and unrealistic vehicle controls.

  • Prey

On its release, Prey fell foul of the gaming press, which rightly focused on its negative aspects and was scored accordingly. This was largely down to review copies only being sent out 24 hours before it went on sale, so many reviewers were forced to rush through it and didn’t really experience the game as it should be played: slowly, cautiously, thoughtfully.

The enforced review schedule made people play Prey like a bad FPS when it’s actually a brilliant RPG — a shame for a game that took four years to develop. The title has since undergone a much-needed reappraisal, so if you thought you already knew about Prey… you don’t. Go grab a copy and find out for yourself. As far as cheap PC games go, this one is currently less than £20 online.

These are just seven of our favorite PC games from 2017 that now looks a bargain in 2018. There are undoubtedly more. Which overlooked gems would you recommend?