One of the best ads during the Super Bowl yesterday didn’t exist until well after the game started–and didn’t even run on television. It was Oreo’s ad, which was embedded in a tweet made during the half-hour blackout in the third quarter.
What made it among the best ads of the game wasn’t flashy video–it was a static photo, of all things–nor did it feature celebrities, cleavage, or wise-cracking babies. It was special mainly because it was created on the fly and ran immediately.
This was real-time advertising–not just that algorithmic stuff spewed out by innumerable ad networks that track you all over the Web, but a real real-time ad that was elegant, clever, brand-specific and most of all, of course, timely. Something happened while everyone was tuned in, a brand ginned up an ad that incorporated that something, and the ad ran–all in minutes.
This could be a very big deal. There’s so much noise in advertising today that it’s tough to break through with a brand message. Targeting, especially in online advertising, clearly works and, if privacy concerns don’t get in the way, will work better with each passing year. But ever-narrower targeting, no matter how precise, isn’t really what most brands, which need to reach people by the millions, are looking for. That’s why they still spend the bulk of their ad budgets on TV ads.
Real-time ads could help free up more of those dollars from TV. Too often, marketers and agencies ignore an advantage that active websites–particularly social services such as Twitter and Facebook–share with live television: the ability to reach a lot of people with a message that’s relevant to them right now. …