By Alpa Agarwal
Since releasing its real-time ad network, RiotWise, in January this year, OneRiot, a Microsoft BizSpark real-time search technology startup, has seen “explosive growth,” claims Tobias Peggs, General Manager for OneRiot. “We will serve more ads than searches in March this year …. We are the first company to monetize the real-time web.”
Founded in 2006, in Boulder, CO, and funded by Commonwealth Capital Ventures, Spark Capital and Appian Ventures, OneRiot has already had enormous success with its real-time search engine, which scours the social web - Twitter, Digg, YouTube, Delicious, MySpace, Facebook, URL shorteners, and other services - to find the freshest, most popular and socially relevant news, videos and images. OneRiot crawls not just tweets and diggs, but crawls the pages behind the links themselves. This is all done in real-time.
According to Peggs, about 40% of all search queries, display intent that can be served by real-time search. For example, when searching for “Haiti,” it can be inferred that a user is not looking for a Wikipedia or CIA Factbook article about the country, but information about the earthquake. Most general-purpose search engines are partnering with real-time search technology companies to display these fresh results & OneRiot is positioned well for the future.
However, signals from the social web add value in more ways. For example, after the demise of Michael Jackson, a TMZ story was the number one link on OneRiot. But instead of serving the same information – that Michael Jackson had died – from 20 other news sources that picked up the same TMZ story, the second link was Jackson’s Thriller video, because fans were celebrating Jackson’s life. By harnessing crowdsourced curation of content & capturing the pulse of society on any issue, at any moment in time, OneRiot’s PulseRank algorithm – which like PageRank for the realtime web – uses numerous signals to find the freshest, most relevant content for users.
OneRiot’s ad network, RiotWise, streams contextually relevant advertisements, producing 3-4 times industry standard click-through rates. For example, if the user is trying to find out what's going on right now for “Chile,” RiotWise will serve up links to freshly published, quality content - news, stories, videos, etc - concerning the earthquake in Chile. RiotWise ads directly match the user’s intent - in other words, they add value to the users’ experience; they help users do what they are trying to do in the moment. Advertisers include a range of publishers such as entertainment sites, sports networks, and news organizations. In Peggs’ words, “Approximately 40% of search queries - across all search engines - display an intent that would best be served by results from a real-time search engine. That's a huge market, and it needs monetizing. That's what we do.”
What is really neat about OneRiot’s advertising platform is that they turn the top search results into advertisements on-the-fly, so they can be immediately re-purposed, to serve the unique timeliness of the real-time web. And this in turn makes for a painless process for advertisers. By simply signing up with RiotWise, they see their content show up both as search results and as sponsored advertisements.
OneRiot’s marketing strategy has focused on partnerships right from the start. Though OneRiot.com is a destination, 97% of their searches are driven by their partner network comprising over 100 web sites & numerous applications. For example, users of Internet Explorer 8 can download OneRiot’s search bundle, including OneRiot search, “what's hot” video webslice, powered by Microsoft Silverlight, and other services.