An introduction and some freeqin' big questions

By Peter Meng on July 21, 2011 9 Comments Ideas
Peter Meng, Reynolds Fellow
Peter Meng

A first post demands an introduction. Here it is: My name is Peter Meng and I am not a journalist - in fact I have never worked for any kind of journalism based organization. I am, however, a two-faced geek - tech and marketing. I love both and I'm hoping to blend these two loves to test an idea I've been playing with for a while. My Fellowship with the Reynolds Journalism Institute provides the perfect platform for researching, building, testing, and validating this idea.

My project is based on a problem that's been annoying me for a long time. As an active buyer and seller of services and used stuff on the net, I'm not able to easily promote the things I have for sale or find the things I'm looking for. Instead I have to: wade through Craigslist and sea of smaller classified sites, set-up RSS feeds (a royal pain), use multiple search engines, post "for sale" tweets, scour "TweetDeck," post eBay ads, and sometimes pay ridiculous advertising or membership fees.

I'm thinking there might be a better way.

This leads to the questions my idea is based on: Can a system be created that uses both the traditional and social parts of the Internet to find or sell goods and services, and have the results be delivered to me in "real-time"? And can I do all of this from one simple location that's easy to find (my local newspaper's online classifieds?), that benefits my [physical!] community, and costs very little to use?

There's really only one way to determine the answer. Build it and test it. And that's what I plan on doing in the next ten months.

I call my project (and maybe the final product?) AdFreeq, because the name implies what I hope to do with this project - to provide a way to frequently post and distribute free and low cost classified ads. And we'll do this by using mobile and social tools in a unique and hopefully fun way. I also aim to make money with this project and prove that this type of service can be used by your media company to recover the revenues they've lost to other services using new technologies. If we're successful they can channel their new found revenues into higher quality news products for you.

In the coming weeks I'll be posting my progress and also asking for your help. I'm going to post a question that pertains to the part of the problem I'm working on that week. I'd appreciate your feedback in any form - from a detailed discussion to a yes or no. Anything will help. The following week I'll attempt to answer what I learned from you and from my research and activities. Should be informative, maybe educational, and I hope, interesting.

So let's start with the first question. How do YOU define "real-time"? Examples would be helpful!

I look forward to your freeqin' awesome insights.


No votes yet


Real-time = relevant

I guess I think of real-time as having to do with relevancy. Whether it's relevancy to my location, the season, my familial situation, my age, gender, hobbies, etc., anything that's more relevant is more likely to be paid attention to by me.

RE: Real-time = relevant

Anna, Thanks for your comment. Regarding relevant how do you see the correlation between relevance and time? Is the information you're looking for more relevant if it gets to you sooner or at a requested time? Is it more relevant if it comes to you the moment it's available (push), or only when you request it (pull). Thanks! Peter

Relevance is individual

These are great questions. I only wish every marketer and advertiser asked them! :) I think preference for push vs. pull would somewhat depend on the situation and on the product/service/etc. being advertised. And it would be great if I could control the experience. For instance, let's say everything starts out as push. It would be nice if I had the tools to refine it like selecting "show me less or more of this" or "don't show me any more of these until such and such date," or "never show me anything from this advertiser again," etc. And maybe at the outset I could set categories that are always only push or always only pull with the option of course of tweaking these settings as needed. For instance, maybe I want restaurant/food ads pushed but I only want to see ads for plumbers or contractors when I go looking for those services.

Real time on the internet equals instantaneous.

If I purchase downloadable software, I expect to be taken to a page immediately where I can download that software or an email containing a link. Compare that to real time in real life. I would have to drive to a store, maybe wait in line, and the best part, it's out of stock.
I just went to the post office to mail a book. It took about 20 minutes; I got very lucky. If I could have emailed a PDF of that book, it would have taken 20 seconds. It's almost as if real time on the internet is fake, but that's really a good thing.

Re: Real time on the internet equals instantaneous.

Branch, Thanks for your comment. I agree with you on the magic of "instant" on the Net. How important is t to you to know something as soon as it's available or the moment it happens? I know that depends on the information and the circumstance, but I'm trying to get a general impression of how important "instant" is to them. Thanks! Peter

BTW, are you the same Branch Whitney who just published a book on hiking the Lake Mead area? If so, I'm a big fan

I think real time is the

I think real time is the perfect blend of convenience and the most relevant current information related to the product.Your idea sounds interesting as you plan to involve local online media house in a scenario where actually creating your own platform is more profitable and convenient. Maybe that is something I need to wait and watch to understand. Good luck Peter.

Real Time = Convenience + Current and Reliable Info

I think real time is the perfect blend of convenience and the most relevant reliable current information related to the product.Your idea sounds interesting as you plan to involve local online media house in a scenario where actually creating your own platform is more profitable and convenient. Maybe that is something I need to wait and watch to understand. Good luck Peter.

RE: Real Time = Convenience + Current and Reliable Info

Thanks for your comment Robin! Keep an eye on this space. In future weeks I'll be sharing different features and ideas we'll be testing with AdFreeq. One of those is revenue. I think you'll find our approach interesting and hopefully profitable. - Peter


I'm interested in following your progress. I'm creating a new product that will include classified ad's nationwide but it will be targeted to specific communities. It will not integrate newspaper or other channels.

Craigslist revolutionized the classified ad market and put trade papers out of business. However, their technology is now infiltrated with Spammers, Hackers and Advertisers so the classified ad section is not pure. You have limited search capability so you are stuck sifting through pages of ad's based upon date entry and most of them are advertisers trying to lure you to their website or store.

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