Google is taking on Twitter at its own game, with a new real time ad format geared towards helping brands muscle in on current events.
The new ‘Real Time Ads’ format lets advertisers serve video ads across YouTube and 2 million partner websites during big moments.
The new service works with AdWords online tools, letting a pre-created ad to have a component (such as a photo or overlaid text) that can be updated immediately to reflect some event that is generating chatter.
The new ad format is now being made available to a select group of brands, available in time for Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7.
Though the creative for Real-Time Ads can be inserted on the fly, advertisers will have to reserve spots in advance. Brands can pre-plan ads on timing (such as halftime or the start of the game) and action (touchdown, interception or field goal, for example). The clip or graphic will then be inserted into YouTube, Google’s display ad network and various Google mobile apps.
Google tested the product with EA Sports during the NFL postseason, releasing animated gifs that referenced game play within moments of it happening on the field.
Google said it expected to roll out the new service “more broadly” later this year.
In a statement, the tech giant said: “With Real-Time Ads brands will be able to instantly run an ad across YouTube, hundreds of thousands of apps, and over two million sites in our Google Display Network with a message that ties directly to the big moment consumers just experienced.”
One brand that will employ Real-Time Ads on the Web during this year’s Super Bowl will be website building and hosting firm Wix.com. Comcast will employ the new format during the Oscars.
Google said it has been trying out the format with EA Sports, including a test in 2014 of the Madden GIFERATOR.
Accompanying the Real-Time Ads announcement, Google said it is beefing up its YouTube AdBlitz channel and site for Super Bowl ads, where viewers can watch, share and vote on the ads.
Google, has brands like Wix on board for the Super Bowl, and Comcast signed up to use it during the Academy Awards.
Google’s new ads are an outgrowth of a program it beta tested last year with EA Sports’ Madden NFL 15, where the brand used technology to build display ads on the fly and target them quickly.
Now, they are being used during the big game and awards, which are Twitter’s core strengths.
In the past, Twitter has often been the venue of choice to react to real-time events, such as the “left shark” in Katy Perry’s Super Bowl halftime show last year, or the power going out in the New Orleans Super Dome during the 2013 Super Bowl.
Brands like Jim Beam, Oreo and Tidetook advantage of the lights going out, sending tweets that resonated with otherwise unhappy viewers, garnering thousands of retweets and buzz.