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Starcom Buys Its Own Fast-Twitch Content Machine

Relevant24, which makes content you're supposed to share -- quickly.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Advertisers say they crave “native ads” that social media users will share on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram because they’re timely and cool. But making that stuff is harder than it looks.

So ad company Starcom MediaVest has bought a small agency that specializes in that stuff. Starcom, part of the giant Publicis holding group, has picked up Relevant24, a 23-person, Boston-based company that launched in 2013; Starcom didn’t disclose a price.

Relevant24’s pitch is that it’s a fast-twitch agency that can gin up ads/content in a day or less, based on what’s happening in the news. In a best-case scenario, it gets results like this: Rihanna shows up in a nearly-naked dress on June 2, and Relevant24 gets this tweet out the next day on behalf of Turner’s TBS network:

And then Rihanna (or her people) makes it explode a few hours later:

Relevant24 also does work where it plans to produce stuff in advance of newsy events. You can get a sense of its work via this Slideshare presentation about the stuff it has done for Budweiser here:

And here is a collection of Vines it created for Priceline for the last Super Bowl.

The big picture is that this is part of an overall push to create ads that don’t exactly look like ads — or to take things that aren’t ads and help integrate them into “real” ads. Starcom made another move in that direction earlier this year, when it struck deals with publishers like Forbes and Time Inc. to integrate their old stories into new ads.

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