AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREStriving toward a more perfect me: Doug McIntyre “It’s an affordable way to make and distribute commercials,” said Robert W. Beth, co-founder and chief executive of VizzVox. “We think this is an opportunity for individuals to create ads and level the playing field with big companies.” Real estate agents who use the service upload digital photographs and video clips to the VizzVox site, turn on a microphone and talk about the selling points of the home and the neighborhood. After they describe each visual, software smoothly stitches together the images and narrative. The program has a remix feature, so agents can create variations on each commercial, including views of dog parks for one prospective buyer, and local schools for another. The presentations can be made and viewed both on Macs and PCs, preferably with broadband connections. Traffic is driven to the site with signs, ads and real estate listings. Drew Neisser, chief executive of Renegade Marketing in New York, who is in the business of inventive online marketing and Web site development himself, was intrigued with the service. “It’s extremely cost effective,” he said. He looked at two VizzVox commercials and liked them: “They told a lovely story about each home – I was ready at the end to call my wife and tell her we were moving to San Mateo.” If you’re shopping for a new home, it’s easy to take a virtual stroll through the ranch house at 640 Hobart Ave., San Mateo, asking price $1,049,000. The house has its own Web site, complete with a soundtrack (www.640hobart.com). Click on it, and a real estate agent welcomes you in the voiceover, as crisp digital photographs of the sunny rooms flow past on the screen, with each photo neatly dovetailed to the narration. The commercial might make you want to move in instantly. But, too bad, that house is sold. Joanne Norris, an agent at Alain Pinel Realtors in Burlingame, who created and narrated the commercial, found a buyer within a week of advertising it that way. She sold another house, too, within a few days of posting a Web commercial, despite an overall slowdown in the local housing market. To make the commercials, Norris used a new Web-based service, VizzVox (www.vizzvox.com). For $149 a year, VizzVox offers a package that includes domain name registration for the property, hosting of the commercial on the Web site for a year, and the use of the Web-based software that lets real estate agents create the presentation. The service may provide an attractive alternative to more complicated and expensive approaches used to sell homes: such as high-definition video or 360-degree panoramic photos. Creating a high-quality video is fairly expensive. Mike Raspatello, director of marketing at Richter Studios in Chicago, which does videos for real estate brokers, said the cost for a three-minute high-definition video of a single home typically ran $6,000 to $15,000. Neisser says the VizzVox commercials “are a convenient way to get a quick and reasonably accurate tour.” But however attractive some of the commercials may be, he said, he doesn’t think do-it-yourself programs such as VizzVox are a threat to more traditional marketing services. “The problem with a technology like this is that you are putting semiprofessional tools in the hands of an amateur,” he said. “One of the reasons folks like us are still in business is that we are professional storytellers. I can’t imagine that your average real estate agent has the quality of voice and ability to draft a narrative that is compelling and interesting.” To meet that challenge, VizzVox offers professional production assistance. For example, real estate agents can provide images and notes on a property, and VizzVox will produce a script and a voiceover artist to read it for $120. In addition to real estate programs, VizzVox also sells a general service for $149 a year that lets individuals create presentations, store them on a company server and display them by way of a link. Parents, for example, might use the service to create a narrative celebrating the birth of a child. Artists might show off their portfolios, and business owners might create commercials about their products. Links to the presentations can be placed anywhere on the Web, pasted into a MySpace page, for instance, or at the end of e-mail messages. Another VizzVox service lets individuals create up to 10 presentations free at its site, but their creations will be shown with ads: After the slide show, for instance, there may be an ad asking viewers to shop at an online retailer. A new San Francisco company called Goldmail, at www.goldmail.com, also hopes to increase the value of e-mail and Web pages by adding a soundtrack to them. “This is a simple way to bring messages to life by adding your voice to anything you send or post to the Internet,” CEO Guy Longworth said.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!