Mark Cuban-backed 140Fire Lets You Create Real-time Overlay Ads For Your Video Content

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Launching today is 140Fire.com, a Y Combinator-backed platform that allows advertisers, publishers, and media buyers to create interactive ad content and polls to overlay on streaming or pre-recorded video.

What does this mean? As you can see in the image above, 140Fire’s real-time editor allows BMW (in this case) to create and serve questions based on what’s happening in the video. Here, in the depths of March Madness, Brian Zoubek has just stepped to the line to shoot a few free throws, so the ad asks viewers “how many free throws will he make?”

Like most video ads, the ads will appear as a small bar on the bottom of the screen, but unlike those of its ilk, they allow viewers to remain in the content, answering polls while continuing to watch the video. According to Founder Jason Wilk, this allows brands to collect data on what viewers are thinking in real-time and monetize those high-interest points in video content. 140Fire can then serve up post-roll ads based on viewers’ responses to the polls.

As another example, say you’re watching Mad Men, a show that features its fair share of office drinking (and thus a perfect platform for alcohol-related advertising). Because 140Fire’s advertising is content specific, they might feature an ad from GreyGoose that polls users on their different personality traits in order to come up with the type of GreyGoose cocktail they would most enjoy. You could then check out which of your friends like GreyGoose and were matched with the same drink.

Update: 140Fire plans to enable this by using Facebook Instant Personalization, which would make it one of the first sites of its kind to integrate with Facebook’s new feature, though it has not yet been officially approved. As Instant Personalization takes public data (what you’ve set to “Everyone”) from your account to “personalize” its partner sites (140Fire joins Pandora, Bing, Yelp, Rotten Tomatoes, among others), some have expressed concerns over Facebook’s new feature and how it will affect individual user privacy. I, for one, don’t find it particularly threatening, but Facebook could certainly do a better job of explaining how exactly third party sites will use your personal information.

140Fire was founded by serial entrepreneurs Jason Wilk and Paras Chitakar. Since its founding in January 2010, the startup has added Scott Shumaker and Ryan Evans to their roster, the core team behind Flektor. Flektor was acquired by Fox Interactive in 2007 for $20+ million after building a suite of user-friendly content generation tools, including a full-featured online video editor. According to Wilk, Flektor’s technology applies directly to the backend of 140Fire, as it allows for the scaling of simultaneous results and automatic ad creation.

The company is entering a space already occupied by big video advertisers like Tremor, ScanScout, and Kit. But by providing an editor that allows you to easily create interactive ads and publish straight through your ad server or network, 140Fire hopes to separate itself from its competitors.

Recruiting heavyweight investors into the fold helps the cause, too. Today, 140Fire announced that feisty serial entrepreneur and owner of the Dallas Mavericks Mark Cuban will be its lead investor. Robert and Jonathan Kraft, the father and son owners of the New England Patriots and Kraft macaroni fame, and Skip Paul, former SVP of Atari, were also added as investors.

Technology is bringing us closer and closer to a highly personalized, real-time advertising experience. Some may find this a bit creepy, maybe a bit intrusive, but I say bring it on. Though 140Fire’s technology may not be quite as applicable to static video like Hulu, it may very well make live events (like Dancing With the Stars) a more interactive (and interesting) experience.

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