August 31, 2005

Advertising Prediction Markets

Prediction Markets By: ams

HedgeStreet has been running ads on the radio locally. A couple of people (Marty was the first) have told me that they’ve heard the ad on KCBS. I couldn’t find anything on HedgeStreet.com or on KCBS about it. (Don’t people ask broadcasters and advertisers about ads they’re running often enough to make it standard practice to announce the campaign in a public place?) Anyway, after googling around for a while, I discovered that Michael Covel of Trend Spotting has a short note about the campaign with a pointer to a recording.

The ad starts out by asking “Are you a person with strong opinions?” The pitch seems to be focused on argumentative people. (“Do you find yourself getting into little debates with your buddies about things like whether Bay Area housing prices will continue to go up?”) The pitch includes a short list of areas in which they have claims (“gas prices, housing prices, oil, gold and more”), and touts the fact that the trades (they never say “bet”) are person-to-person. (“If you buy a Hedgelet that says that gas prices will rise, then someone else is buying one that says that gas prices will fall.”)

I think HedgeStreet could turn out to be very interesting and quite valuable, but at this point, their set of claims is still quite limited and all very short term. It might be fun for some people to bet on the short term direction of gas and crude oil prices (they have claims due September 1, September 30, and December 30), but in order for people to realistically hedge on housing prices, they need much longer time horizons.

They have been adding to their list of subjects. They now have metals, crops, currencies, economic indicators (sales, employment, CPI, interest and mortgage rates), as well as fuel and housing prices. This is much broader than when they started. And the markets are quite thinly traded. If they could add automated market makers to narrow the spreads, it might make it much more interesting for people to make trades which would be good for price makers, too.

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