Some real-time search engines have been throwing in the towel or trying to find a different business model that doesn't compete with Google, Bing, Yahoo and Twitter. Last week real-time search startup OneRiot revealed it would shutter its search portal. Thursday, the company reported transitioning search partners to real-time engine Topsy, which makes the feeds available to Web sites through an API.
OneRiot will focus on the company's advertising network for real-time social Web content. Eddie Smith, chief revenue officer at Topsy, says the company,which is plugged into Twitter's "firehose," ranks content from Twitter based on an influencer algorithm, meaning the company identifies those with social clout down to keywords in Twitter posts. The rank results consider links, but not just people who have been tweeted the most, also retweets of the retweets and number of Twitter followers.
Sound complicated? There are specific features making Topsy different than services like Klout, which identifies top influencers in social sites like Facebook and Twitter. Smith calls it a "recursive algorithm," so when clients get real-time results it's not just time ranked in a stream of consciousness, but rather who produces the key influencers for a specific domain or keyword. Some companies might focus on identifying key influencers by segment such as finance or sports.
Topsy's search engine identifies rank results in hours, days, weeks, month and more. Searchers can find influencers based on photos, tweets and experts that tweeted a specific topic.
While the deal consolidates the market, it will be interesting to see if Topsy can make it or will need to tweak its business model in the year to come, as search engines integrate more social capabilities and signals in search results. Not just real-time tweets, but content linked to the underpinnings of the Web.
Many marketers view real-time tweets as a stream of consciousness, but Smith says it's not that meaningful. The true value around real-time social results resides in influencers. Smith wants Topsy to educate the market around the value of relevant searches from mining content on the social Web. "The social Web has all this stuff coming across it, complete with profanity and bad words," he says. "This is stuff marketers don't want to be associated with. So, if you can cut through the noise and understand who's referencing the important content there's a lot of value for marketers."