It’s safe to say that the flat, static web pages of Web 2.0 are dead and The Stream–the live feeds, the real-time content and the data flows we see on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn–is where it’s at.
The Stream is not, however, where ads are at. Social media marketing can be reactionary and on-the-fly, but to update a banner ad, or a video ad, or an interstitial, or almost any other other kind of digital display ad can take a day, or more likely, a week. For advertisers, paid media has infuriatingly sucked at realtime. (Not that we, the advertised-to, would notice; we’re only clicking on .09% of them.)
Flite, an ad platform that started out as an app store, solves that with its platform, now used by Oracle, FedEx, IBM, CBS, L’Oreal and Microsoft. Today the company released version three, featuring tools like its ad studio, which allows advertisers to edit ads on the fly, and its metrics tool, allowing advertisers to edit ads on the fly based on their immediate performance.
This is important because, as Flite CEO Will Price points out, a lot can happen in 60 seconds. Even though display ads make up 32% of online ad spend, almost 100% of display ads today are not realtime and not application-driven.
The new release also combines Flite’s metrics product and ad studio with Flite Hub, itsapp store for ads. So now Flite’s advertisers have access to an unlimited box full of ad nerd toys. LinkedIn, Paypal, Moat, ePrize and Expedia are among the 35 different app developers who’ve contributed to the store since its launch in September. The combination of ad studio, metrics tool, and app store resutls in 750 new features and 100 developer tools and APIs.
Advertisers can use the platform to determine within seconds the engagement on each ad published and edit accordingly. It’s going to be particularly useful in the election as politicians use display ads with video, twitter feeds and other real-time elements to drive donations, Price has indicated.
But don’t take my word for it. Even if I sit through a million demos, I’m not making the ad sausage day-to-day, so I’m not always best suited to make a ‘yea’ or ‘nay’ call on these types of products. I do my best to filter out the cool stuff, and from what I can tell, Flite is the cool stuff.
Flite also has the endorsement of a pretty trustworthy ad sausage maker: Rishad Tobaccowala, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer at Vivaki, touts Flite’s ability to bring the realtime-ness (yes, realtime-ness) of Facebook and social platforms to the corporate communications, legal and marketing infrastructures of his clients.
More importantly, Flite says its ads outperform regular display ads by a margin of 600%. This stuff matters, at least to me, because I want ad-supported online media to work. If advertisers are willing, for now, to throw money at crappy, ineffective display ads, I’m happy to see companies like Flite making them less crappy for the long term.
The company itself has made some on-the-fly tweaks to its own business model. Flite last year pivoted away from its first service, Widgetbox, which would have failed completely had one client, LinkedIn, not blatantly violated Widgetbox’s terms of servicein an interesting way. LinkedIn’s tooling around with Widgetbox as an ad company led Flite to discover its raison d’être. And boom, Flite is now an ad company.
Flite has $27 million in total venture backing from Catalyst Partners, Sequoia Capital, Hummer Winblad Venture Partners, and NCD Investors.