Tag Archives: Twitter

What is Real-Time Advertising? Opinions Vary — A Lot

I’m starting a report covering real-time advertising.

To kick off my research, I conducted an unscientific poll of my connections on Twitter and LinkedIn and asked them to define the term. The results make it clear that no one agrees what real-time advertising is. That’s not surprising in these early days; for a term as precise as “real-time” seems to be, it encompasses a range of advertising and marketing opportunities.

The variations in the definitions I gathered tell me that there is a great opportunity to analyze the role of real-time advertising not only in the real-time marketing ecosystem, but in the larger digital ad business and in the even larger  traditional ad business.

Here are some of the definitions I received:

“Brand interactions with cons. in the moment. Hungry = “Here’s a deal, try this.” Watching a film? = “Similar film coming.” ”


“a real time adv is where the contents are delivered by checking the current status/choice of the customer.”

“taking owned content that’s a response to a current event (eg oreo/Super Bowl) then promoting that content via paid media.”

“When you check out reviews of SLR camera lenses on Amazon, then see an ad pop up for SLR camera lenses just minutes later on another website.”

“Twitter postings playing off events everyone is watching, such as the Super Bowl or presidential debates.”

“Traditionally it’s been the newsjacking approach. Quick, reactive advertising based on topical themes that may be newspaper headlines (in the UK Virgin and Specsavers have mastered this approach). Increasingly (similar to the pressures on traditional printed news), this is becoming more of a case of ‘in-the-moment’ rather than ‘after-the-moment’. It’s now a case of proactively being relevant before and as the moment of audience interest is being realised, rather than during and after, but with ads that feel created in the moment as opposed to pre-planned. In essence it should feel less like traditional agency art, and more like community constructed content, just from a commercial source.”

You probably want to know which definition I agree with. I’ll come back later with a definition — after I finish my report.


What Others Are Saying Right Now About Real-Time Marketing

The Oscars have spurred a lot of intense commentary about real-time marketing, pro and con. Here are some of the links I’ve gathered; will add more as they become available.

Five Fast Truths About Real-Time Marketing (opinion piece by Ian Schafer, of Deep Focus)

When Did Twitter Grow Up? (Ad Age)

Most Oscars Real-Time Marketing Falls Flat (Digiday)

Oreo Tries Super Bowl Tweet Strategy at the Oscars (Adweek)

How the Marketing Community Lost Last Night #OscarsRTM (by David Armano, who created the hashtag)

I’m not sure who is behind the “Real-Time Marketing Sucks” Tumblr that was set up last night, but you can see some examples of Oscars real-time marketing here.

Update (2/26/13)

Time for Real Introspection on Real-Time Marketing (by Scott Monty of Ford)

The Script of Improv: What Is (and Isn’t) Real-Time Marketing (by Rohit Bhargava)

Not Every Major Cultural Moment Deserves an Immediate Response (by Sarah Hofstetter of 360i, the agency behind Oreo’s Super Bowl tweet)


Did Oreo Create a Monster?

What a difference a few weeks makes.

At the start of this month, the ad industry was falling all over itself to laud Oreo for its real-time marketing moment during the Super Bowl power outage. When the brand posted a picture of an Oreo with a sassy comment, it was as if the collective lights went ON among the marketing community:

“Real time is hot!”

“Real-time is the answer!”

“I need some real-time, stat!”

And then came the Oscars. And we saw, unfortunately, what happens when brands try too hard to jump on a trend. Most of the marketing I saw posted on Twitter during the Oscars was content that was already developed, “canned” so to speak, or simply deployed at an opportune moment. Only a few marketers took it to the next level, developing creative that was actually timed to what was going on during the telecast.

A hashtag set up by Edelman Digital exec David Armano to track the Oscars real-time marketing, #OscarsRTM, saw discussion quickly change from a few industry intelligentsia talking about the pros and cons of real-time marketing (myself included) to a mass of naysayers eager to bash everything they saw. To be sure, there were a lot of hamfisted attempts at being “relevant.” But the negative reaction will no doubt send many brands and their agencies back to square one when it comes to using real-time marketing. Some will probably not return, and deem the concept a flash in the pan. This couldn’t be further from the truth; there is so much to  be learned about what it means to be responsive, reactive and relevant, for brands. As I tweeted yesterday during the aftermath of the Oscars,

How Did CBS’s ‘Hawaii 5-0’ Twitter Experiment Fare?

I meant to write a post about this a couple days ago but a report deadline got in the way.

On Monday, CBS heavily touted what it said was the first-ever use of Twitter to allow viewers to select the ending of a show in real time. 

Variety reports that people in the West Coast and East time zones picked two different endings: West Coasters chose #theStudent and East Coasters chose #theBoss.

“We were very excited about the results,” said Marc DeBevoise, exec veep and g.m. of entertainment, news and sports at CBS Interactive. “Social activity was up 186% according to our social guide numbers, and our site traffic to the show was up 200% from the average.”

DeBevoise told Variety that he estimated over 100,000 votes were cast.

CBS will try a different take on real-time voting next week, Variety reports. It will ask fans of “Let’s Make a Deal,” the daytime game show, to use Twitter to vote for certain aspects of the show while it is being taped on Jan. 25. The episode won’t air until Jan. 30, however.

‘Hawaii 5-0’ Lets Twitter Users Pick the Ending

Tonight’s episode of “Hawaii 5-0” will have a real-time twist: viewers will be encouraged to use Twitter to choose how the episode will end.

According to Deadline.com, the producers have filmed three endings of the episode, about a university professor who was murdered. Viewers in the East Coast/Central and West Coast time zones will be able to go to CBS.com or Twitter to cast their votes for who they think was the culprit: #theBoss, #the TA or #theStudent. CBS will tally the votes “immediately” and then show the ending that the viewers chose.

I’m not a fan of the show but I’m curious to see how it all works. I’ll watch and report back tomorrow. One question I have is how quickly CBS will try to tally votes.

REI Mashes Up Rapid Response AND Personalization

Ekaterina Walter, Intel’s global social innovation strategist and author of the new book “Think Like Zuck,” writes in Fast Company about a great example of how a marketer can not only respond rapidly in social media but also deliver a personalized experience.

Walter sent a tweet to REI, the outdoor chain, asking for the best gift suggestion the company had for Christmas. She got a response in less than an hour.

Here’s where it gets interesting. The tweet included a video that REI custom made for Walter, featuring an REI employee addressing her by name and showing off the features of the gift the outdoor chain thought she’d like: a GoPro helmet camera.

After receiving the tweet, Walter interviewed REI’s social team and learned that the chain made about 90 custom videos during the campaign. (You can check out other videos on REI’s blog.) During that time, “referral traffic to REI’s site doubled,” Walter writes.

Could this rapid response and personalization have happened because some savvy REI social media staffer noticed Walter’s huge Twitter presence and realized that she’d talk about it? Possibly, maybe even probably. But that doesn’t diminish REI’s strategy. This company put time and effort into not just replying to a customer (or potential customer) on Twitter, but to put a personalized spin on it that made the response memorable, shareable and most important of all, it led to a sale.

Though Walter tells me she didn’t purchase the gift that REI suggested, she did make a different purchase and will consider REI above other brands next time she’s shopping.

Kafka, Spouts and Tuples: Twitter Explains The Role of Humans In Its Real-Time Search

In a lengthy blog post, Twitter’s engineering group describes the way it handles search queries in real time. It’s fascinating stuff, even if I can’t say I fully understand sentences like this:

The Storm topology attaches a spout to this Kafka queue, and the spout emits a tuple containing the query and other metadata (e.g., the time the query was issued and its location) to a bolt for processing.

What I found most interesting is the essential role of humans in the process:

We’ve built a real-time human computation engine to help us identify search queries as soon as they’re trending, send these queries to real humans to be judged, and then incorporate the human annotations into our back-end models.

Twitter uses workers supplied by Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to perform the evaluations, and it goes into great depth to explain how they vet the queries and work together to deliver responses. This aspect of real-time is compelling because while machines are certainly involved, the human brain plays a vital role. Basically, what Twitter is saying is that real time is not solely the domain of computing, and that humans, if given the right tools and working environment, can do fast, high-quality work that makes real-time even better than if machines did it alone.