Real-Time Ads



I think it’s safe to say that advertising has advanced quite a bit in the past fifty years.  It’s an interesting field because it’s such an incredibly big market ($350 billion worldwide, and growing fast) that the opportunities for disruption are huge, which historically has led to a ton of innovation in the space centered around major inflection points in the way we consume information. 

From print to radio, radio to TV, TV to the Internets – each has opened up massive opportunities for the companies that have unlocked the delicate balance between consumer tolerance for interruption and profitability.  Looking at the market today, I see a big inflection point around the shift from the traditional web and the real-time web.  There are lots of players in this space, but we have yet to see a breakout advertising platform to find that balance and cash in around this major opportunities.

For today’s idea, I’m going to take a crack at this with something I’m calling Real-Time Ads.  These are ads that are optimized for type of quick-hit, real-time content that has a virally-powered explosion and quickly dies away. 

It’s a bit hard to explain, so let’s start by looking at the following scenario.  The Seattle Seahawks won a late-season game in overtime are making an improbable trip to the playoffs.   I’m a huge Seahawks fan, and after reading an article on the big win, I decide to post the following social ad on the page:


Now, let’s say that this week the Seahawks are playing the 49ers in their playoff game.  I decide that I want to have a little fun, so I head over to the 49er’s page and bid on the following ad:


The key is that anyone can click directly on the ad, and for a very nominal fee, immediately purchase the opportunity to get a targeted message in front of a massive viral audience.  Also, this is a simple way for very small businesses who don’t want to learn about traditional online advertising to instantly see their message on a site that they know is relevant to their prospective clients.

The other nice thing about these ads from a consumer’s perspective is that the ads aren’t just the same old boring AdSense ads that users have learned to ignore.  Because they are coming directly from users, they are likely more interesting and fun, which will make these not feel like ads at all to the consumer.

Here are a couple of other scenarios where social ads might come into play:

  • Twitter user “@iPhoneNews” advertising on a popular article about the iPhone
  • The person selling “Bubble Boy” Halloween costumes advertising on a hot story about BB.
  • A pizza place in a small town offering a $5 coupon on a story about the local high-school basketball team winning their game.

All right, what do you guys think about this one?  Leave comments below or hit me up on Twitter at @astartupaday.   


5 responses to “Real-Time Ads

  1. Hi Kevin,

    This idea is very interesting to me. How do you envision this being delivered? As a widget that could be placed on any website?

    Presumably the site owner would need to add the capability (install a site widget) that would allow them to sell the ad space. Or are you thinking directly via twitter or some other outlet like that?

    • Thanks for the comment. I was thinking that it would be a widget, or even integrated more directly into a specialized RT content site (such as my Qwiki idea from last Friday).

      I like your blog, btw – I used the site blocking tip for a while, it’s pretty amazing the difference something simple like that can make.

  2. excellent idea. 🙂 I’ve been building out this year. The team at Windy Citizen has a similar offering.

    You may also want to check out Project Wonderful, it’s less about ad streams and more about making traditional banner ads more approachable.

    • Great domain name, and very cool offering. Thanks for the links, it’s exciting to see all the innovation in this space.

  3. It’s an interesting idea. As an advertiser, my problem would be how unpredictable the amount of impressions I would receive are.

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