Someone on the real-time web has a business model. And it’s not Twitter.
Real-time search engine OneRiot is launching RiotWise on Monday, a service that will pair its results with sponsored links to relevant content. The layout of the ads resemble the text links that appear in Google’s search results. However, there are a few key differences. These are content ads, i.e. ones that link to related stories and media, not e-commerce ads that hawk goods or services.
OneRiot chief executive Kimbal Musk said the company has to take a different approach in building an ad system for the real-time web than Google’s AdSense because users searching for the latest news aren’t necessarily looking to buy goods. OneRiot is a search engine that uses Twitter and Digg to find the most relevant content that’s been published in the last few hours to a day on any given topic.
Plus bidding on keywords might be logistically difficult for advertisers who can’t predict whether there will be an immediate surge of interest in a topic like ‘tsunami.’
Instead, publishers will pay to have their content featured alongside search results in categories like ‘technology’ or ‘health’. OneRiot will take its search technology, pore through the publisher’s stream of content and highlight stories that relate to a user’s searches. Content providers are likely to pay per clickthrough, Musk said.
“We believe this is going to be the business model for the real-time web,” Musk said. “We view ourselves as the company that’s building the foundation and infrastructure for real-time search and monetization through real-time ads.”
The Boulder, Colorado-based company is turning on revenue at a time when Twitter, a hub for real-time content sharing, has hesitated to use advertising. Twitter co-founder Biz Stone said the company won’t put advertising on the site this year at the 140:Twitter Conference in Los Angeles last week.
Musk said commerce-oriented ads may come in time, as businesses become more sophisticated in offering deals to users that are timed with spikes in interest (like 20 percent off golf clubs if a user searches for Tiger Woods after he wins a tournament).
OneRiot will also share revenue from RiotWise with the 40 partners that bake its search results into their products. After launching an application programming interface earlier this year that lets developers pull in OneRiot’s search results into other destinations, the company has gone from handling 4 million searches per month in June to 30 million this month.
OneRiot raised $7 million last month from Appian Ventures, Commonwealth Capital Ventures, and Spark Capital.