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Real-Time Advertising: A Perfect Match for Breaking News

March 27th, 2019   ||    by Callie Wheeler

Real-time advertising and breaking news are a match made in advertising heaven. We see no shortage of live coverage these days, from court cases to special hearings to in-progress crimes. These live events often bring together large groups of viewers, and those with a local element—like live local news coverage—provide an experience that those viewers trust more than other mediums.

It only makes sense that advertisers should take advantage of these unique, often once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to connect with audiences in their backyards and across the world.

A Different Kind of Reality TV

Live and special coverage of political and news events attracts a crowd interested in seeing the story play out in real time. The Kavanaugh-Ford hearing last fall drew over 20 million viewers; for comparison, the 2019 Oscars drew just over 29 million viewers.

Local coverage sees similar opportunities, such as Kevin Spacey’s Nantucket hearing earlier this year, where local outlets streamed the hearing online and aired it on television, as reported by

From live tweeting to keeping up with late night hosts’ jokes, audiences pay attention, watching these events with the understanding that they’re history in the making.

Is It Really Real Time?

While truly “real-time” advertising may not yet be a reality, as Videa’s vice president of sales and marketing, Archie Gianunzio and other executives, discussed on a panel at Beet.TV’s retreat, the options for advertisers are getting closer.

Many of these events are announced at least a week beforehand, giving advertisers opportunity to buy inventory where they might not usually, whether that be daypart, network, or both. Keeping abreast of current events will ensure you’re ready to buy inventory for a special event or developing story.

The Right Message

Of course, there are considerations to keep in mind while making purchase decisions based on special coverage and current events. The content of the events should be fully understood, to ensure any ads are not unintentionally insensitive or inappropriate. The content should also be evaluated in light of the advertiser’s brand to guarantee that the placement is not negative.

Ultimately, visibility is often a good thing, even when unintentional. From OJ’s Bronco to Christine Blasey Ford’s Coke bottle, Vox detailed how these events often lead to brand and product exposure one way or another.

The 24-hour news cycle has created a culture where live coverage is built up, celebrated, and can’t-miss TV. For advertisers, this is an opportunity to reach millions of Americans glued to their television sets via real-time advertising. It’s an opportunity that disappears as quickly as it appeared—but that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

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