Brad Flora, founder of the Windy Citizen Web site, was awarded $250,000 Wednesday by the Knight Foundation to help him create something new. Flora tells me he's going to "spin off Windy Citizens advertising technology into a new business that will offer smarter, more effective, self-service ads to local publishers who want to get beyond banner ads."
It's called NowSpots. "We'll be working with publishers large and small over the next months to get the 'real-time ads' out there making money for people," says Flora. "We're going to help journalists make money on the Web."
Real-time ads? Flora says, "Instead of a banner ad, we show the latest tweet or Facebook update from an advertiser. This would update in real time. It's like giving an advertiser a miniblog in a spot on your site."
Here's what Knight has to say:
WindyCitizen's Real Time Ads
Winner: Brad Flora, WindyCitizen.com
Web URL: http://windycitizen.com
Location: Chicago, Ill.
Summary: As a way to help online startups become sustainable, this project will develop an improved software interface to help sites create and sell what are known as "real-time ads." These ads are designed to be engaging as they constantly change - showing the latest message or post from the advertiser's Twitter account, Facebook page or blog. Challenge winner Brad Flora helped pioneer the idea on his Chicago news site, WindyCitizen.com.
Bio: Brad Flora is a journalist and entrepreneur in Chicago. He is the founder and president of WindyCitizen.com, which gives Chicagoans a place to share, rate and discuss their favorite local stories, events and deals. His work has appeared in Slate magazine and Chicago-area newspapers. He was a 2008 Carnegie-Knight News 21 Fellow and is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.
Knight announced ten grants in all, valued at $2.74 million. This was the fourth year of its five-year, $5 million Knight News Challenge competition.