Realtime social search site OneRiot has had a tumultuous couple of months. In August, the company succumbed to layoffs and restructured its executive board, with Tobias Peggs, formerly President in charge of Strategy, Sales, Distribution and Marketing, taking on the CEO role. CEO and Tesla board Director Kimbal Musk left his role as CEO and became Chairman of the company. After a hard look at the future of the search company’s business, OneRiot is shutting down its realtime social search portal and will be focusing its efforts completely on its ad network.
While OneRiot says that realtime search is growing rapidly, it seems that its search portal wasn’t bringing home the bacon. OneRiot recently revamped its search engine has been indexing and ranking Likes and links shared by users on Facebook, Twitter, Digg and MySpace. As of today, the company will discontinue this search portal.
Search ads, however, do generate money, says Peggs. And OneRiot will now leverage the realtime search technology it has developed to open up its ad platform to the public (it was previously open to select partners). OneRiot says its ad network currently reaches in excess of 100 million monthly unique users across search, display and mobile properties.
OneRiot will now be lumping all of its advertising formats into an established ad network. The startup first ventured into the advertising world in 2009 with RiotWise, an ad format which places content in an emphasized position in their realtime feed.
The search engine also launched RiotWise Trending Ads, a stream of ads that correspond to trending topics as they emerge across the social web. And earlier this year, OneRiot rolled out self-refreshing realtime trending ads and a self-service version of RiotWise.
OneRiot’s trending ads, which serve 400 million impressions per month, are being used on Twitter apps (ÜberTwitter), desktop clients (Digsby), media sharing sites (TinyPic and ImageShack) and on
Peggs says that the company’s ad formats are not only seeing traction amongst publishers and advertisers (which include Stella Artois, Sony Pictures, and other major brands) but are also seeing higher interaction that average ads. CTRs for One Riot’s mobile ads average from .7 percent to 1 percent. CTRs for the startup’s realtime search ads are 3.5 to 4 percent (which are 2 times the average click through rates for search ads).
A refocusing of a business model is never a bad thing for a startup. While OneRiot may have hit a rough patch over the summer, the company appears to be now hiring for a number of positions And if OneRiot’s ads are performing the way the company claims they are, then the platform could have a future serving realtime ads to mobile and web applications. Of course, the company faces competition from a number of other companies that are trying to help social apps monetize, including 140 Proof, Ad.ly and even Twitter.