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The Real-Time Content Time Frame

If I asked 10 CMOs what their definition of “Real Time” is when it comes to marketing, I’d probably get 10 different answers.

An article from Adweek on real-time marketing examples and ROI had a variety of time frames that fit into the “real time” moniker. For instance, the Wonderful Pistachios ad (an homage to the famous Honeybadger voiceover video) was released in September 2011. The original video was nearly a year old at that point; while popular, its peak popularity didn’t hit until January 2012, a couple of months after the pistachio-themed commercial first aired. In this instance, “real time” had at least a two- to three-month window when it would have been timely with the rise of the video going viral.


American Apparel’s (much maligned) real-time promotion of an online clothing sale as a way to pass the time while people were stuck indoors along the Eastern seaboard during Hurricane Sandy shows a different time frame. In this instance, the hurricane was being monitored days before landfall. As early as Thursday, Oct. 25, 2012, New Yorkers were preparing for the storm, a full four days before the storm hit the Jersey shoreline. While I’m not saying their ill-advised tweets should have ever gone out, the point is they had at least a 48-hour window where they would have been considered real time.

 A third example from the article was Oreo’s Royal Baby tweet, which, even though they had several months to prepare, had a window of only a few hours where the topic was (pretty much the only thing) being discussed online. Or consider their Super Bowl tweet, which had a timeline of about 20 minutes to strike.

Unle Si Batman

Over here at Raidious, we had a viral hit with a client during the Internet’s reaction to Ben Affleck being named the new Batman. Bass Pro Shops’ audience members are, by and large, big fans of Duck Dynasty, so we made a graphic saying that Uncle Si would make a better Batman than Mr. Affleck. We had a window of about 24 hours to get that out and still be timely, and in doing so, saw more than 50,000 likes and comments, 23,364 shares and 1,559,040 people reached.

The variety of time frames that fit into the real-time content definition is wide, which means there is no hard-and-fast answer behind the buzzwords.

The answer to what makes content “real time” is simple: As long as the topic is trending, generating discussion and in all other ways activating the audience you want to reach, you’re in that real-time window.

Sometimes you can plan ahead for real time, and sometimes you can’t. For instance, we all know for a fact that the Oscars will be on Sunday, March 2. But do you know who will wear the dress that everyone will be talking about, who will drop their statue or what will happen that will make people take to social media to discuss the event? Nope.

Real time isn’t a time period – it is a mixture of creativity, analytics, production and a process of review and approval that is built to act quickly. If you have that, you have the ability to move your audience.