The “around the web” ads that populate big news sites are not without their detractors, but these ads are growing in number, not waning. Not only that, many publishers are running multiple recommendation engines at the same time.
According to SimilarTech, a company that tracks the technology services that are running on websites, 3,715 of the 100,000 biggest sites used the two most popular content-recommendation engines, Taboola and Outbrain. That’s a 64 percent increase from a year ago.
Outbrain is the market leader, with 4.1 percent market share and Taboola, 3.8 percent, and others like Revcontent, ZergNet and Adblade making up the long tail of the market. Taboola has been growing more aggressively, though. There’s been a 65 percent increase in the number of publishers using Taboola in the past year, compared to 34 percent for Outbrain, according to SimilarTech.
These increases have come as the economics have become too big for publishers, already hurting from declining digital display ad rates and vacillating Facebook traffic, to ignore. Content recommendation networks started a decade or so ago as a way for publishers to swap links. Then, brands and arbitrage sites started using the widgets as a paid distribution tool. Increasingly, direct response advertisers have gotten into the mix, too, using salacious links to lure readers back to e-commerce pages.
The host publishers get paid every time a reader views or clicks one of the links in the box, so while they have control over the quality dials of the widgets, the more people click, the more money they make. Plus, some are paid guaranteed fees by the content recommendation companies to run their widgets. (Publishers still use the suggestion platforms to recirculate their own articles, too.)
“If you look at it right now, the revenue guarantee they’re giving are just too attractive to turn down,” said Edward Kim, the CEO of SimpleReach, which measures content performance and distribution. “When you’re talking about millions of dollars it’s hard to say no, especially when you’re bleeding money in other areas. And monetizing mobile is really hard. This is just waiting for them with a check in hand.”
But with the financial incentives that suggestion platforms offer publishers to get people to click off their own sites, it’s no surprise that some publishers can’t resist running article recommendation boxes. More than 150 large publishers are running more than one company’s at once, including TMZ (which carries Outbrain and Taboola), Reuters and Fox News, according to SimilarTech.
“We’ll run into certain agencies who’ll say, ‘I need to make certain it’s an in-feed rather than an end-of-article experience,’”said Patrick Keane, president of Sharethrough. “We’ve conditioned generations of users to think that’s where to expect terrible content farm articles at the end of an ad. It start to bleed in the experience of advertisers.”
Can Niche build the next decentralized social platform? Here’s why it matters
Niche is a decentralized online marketplace and social networking platform rolled into one. Unlike other social apps, it doesn't carry ads and it doesn't harvest user data.
Member ExclusiveDigiday+ Research deep dive: YouTube investments pay off for publishers’ brands, revenues
In this final installment of Digiday+ Research's deep dive into how publishers are using social media platforms, we're covering how publishers are investing time and money on YouTube -- and how that's translating to their revenues and brands.
ANA’s programmatic buying guide aims to shine a light on murky inefficiencies for CMOs
The Association of National Advertisers released a guide on programmatic media buying that aims to save marketers billions of dollars a year.
SponsoredWhat gaming habits reveal about media consumption
Jordan Shlachter, head of research, Activision Blizzard Media Entertainment choices have never been more abundant, and gaming has emerged as one of the biggest winners in the battle for audiences’ attention. While gaming’s exponential growth has been well documented — there are currently nearly 3 billion gamers worldwide spanning a diverse set of demographics, interests […]
How The Washington Post’s Joy Robins is using lessons from 2020 to handle the current economic slowdown
Joy Robins' role as CRO looks different than it did a year ago, but in a volatile economy, a media company's revenue sources are subject to change as well.
How media companies like The New York Times, BuzzFeed and Gannett are managing costs in an economic downturn
The New York Times, BuzzFeed, Gannett and IAC are identifying areas to cut costs, from marketing budgets to hiring slowdowns and layoffs.