OneRiot Identifies Challenges to Monetizing Real Time Info

April 13, 2010

OneRiot’s Kimbal Musk has identified the three challenges to monetizing real time information. The reasons appear in “Monetizing the Realtime Web” in the company’s blog. I agree that there is interest in real time information. Even SAS, the analytics giant, wants to hop on this fast moving content train. Law enforcement has long had an interest in knowing what’s going on, particularly in certain fast moving situations when mobile devices are used to pass messages. The challenges are, however, formidable. Mr. Musk identifies these hurdles:

  1. “Real time targeting”; that is, knowing what message goes to whom at a particular point in time. Advertisers want to fire info rifle shots, not shotgun blasts in my experience. However, real time targeting can be computationally expensive.
  2. “Data is everything”; that is, individual messages must be processed and converted into meaningful information. Google has had this challenge gripped in its teeth for more than a decade. Many organizations are struggling with this issue. There are costs and precision issues in addition to technical challenges to resolve. Better metadata are needed to make some real time information useful to an advertiser.
  3. Advertisers have some learning to do. Missionary marketing is important and some old expectations and habits can be difficult to change.

Mr. Musk provides some color about OneRiot’s successful approach provides a useful case.

The challenge is not just OneRiot’s. Google continues to tweak its presentation of real time results. I noted that our research suggests that users skip over the real time results. Some topics don’t have real time results; others do. Traditional searchers, therefore, don’t see information consistently in result sets. Consistency is important.

The larger issue, in my opinion, is that some real time results lack context. Additional information may be needed to make sense of some real time results. These injected content wrappers provide the user with the information needed to make sense of an otherwise cryptic or out of context item of information. If you run a query on a current event such as updates to the PGA tournament, the user presumably has context. But even these messages may need framing.

At this time, injection and wrapper technology is available, based on our research, just not deployed. Real time information is likely to benefit when more than the terse message is presented. Smart software may be able to shoulder the burden, converting isolated items into mini news stories.

Whoever cracks this problem will have an edge in monetization because the machine generated wrappers can have ads attached which may offer more advertising hooks.

Stephen E Arnold, April 13, 2010

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