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The Current State of Content Discovery

The way readers find information online is changing, as is the content itself. Rather than finding relevant information via search, users are “discovering” it via social media sites and other publications.

A survey of 1500 online adults between the ages of 18 and 55 found that social media is the preferred source for discovering news and information. Specifically, the study found that millennials follow an average of 121 publishers across social media networks, with 57% following their favorite publishers across platforms.
This shift opens up an entire new landscape for both advertisers and publishers as they search for the most effective way to engage consumers, and is one reason for the rise of content discovery platforms (CDPs).

Content Discovery Platforms Explained

Content discovery platforms function as third party traffic drivers in the paid content distribution space, working with marketers to promote content on highly trafficked pages. They are typically found on the sidebars or at the end of an article where a section of “recommended content” is featured.
It’s somewhat like a search engine in reverse, or as Taboola’s CEO and founder, Adam Singolda, said in an interview with Geektime: “…search changed humanity since it changed the way that anyone everywhere can find information…I think the future is exactly a reverse version of that. There’s too much information and not enough time. How can information find us? We call that discovery. That’s the whole notion of a personalized future.”
Content discovery platforms analyze hundreds of real-time signals, using unique algorithms to match the advertiser’s content with related posts to create a personalized experienced for readers. If done correctly, it’s a win-win situation. The publication opens space on their website for advertisers (which is how the publications get paid) and advertisers gain increased traffic to their site. It’s the old banner ad model, though now with a content marketing focus.

The CDP Players

Taboola is the world’s leading exclusive discovery platform. In 2016, the company has taken the #2 spot, second only to Facebook, in top content recommendation platforms on desktop and has acquired exclusive partnerships with NBCUniversal News Group and Microsoft MSN. The Israeli-American company has also seen impressive growth, leaping from 500 million monthly unique users to over 1 billion. Their most popular tools for users are:

  • Taboola Native, which provides a platform for publishers to directly sell and promote their own custom content. It also allows for “off-site” branded content from across the web, drawing from blogs, YouTube channels, social media pages, etc. Native can index and recommend thousands of branded content items to more effectively match the best content with individual users.
  • Taboola X is a real-time bidding environment that allows marketers to promote products and services on publisher’s sites. This tool can help marketers address the entire purchase funnel and monetize an entire publisher’s site with the option to recommend products and services, not just content.

Revcontent is relatively new to the scene, but claims the title of “world’s fastest growing native advertising network.” Their success is largely due to the unique approach championed by by CEO and founder John Lemp. The focus is on creating a “more intelligent system that understands what people want before they want it.” Using recommendation widgets that stream information to users, publishers can grow their audience and brands to generate leads through content marketing. Some of their top tools are:

  • Intuitive Performance Dashboard, which gives control to the publisher to assess the overall condition of their campaign with tools to monitor performance, identify/track trends, and analyze performance. The dashboard features a top performing widget snapshot, device breakdown of site traffic, and intuitive stat comparison.
  • Language Targeting is a unique targeting tool that allows advertisers to optimize content and target based on language. There are 11 different languages to choose from, adding a layer of “target granularity” for their users.

Outbrain has been around the longest, with 200 billion total recommendations monthly and 557 million users reached globally each month (though there’s speculation these numbers are dropping). Top tools include:

  • Outbrain for Chat, which leverages the reach of content bots for chat platforms on popular apps like Facebook Messenger. Publishers combine true content personalization with editorial programming to create a conversational, natural flow of communication.
  • Automatic Yield is a tool for publishers to track trends in content and show in real time what content yields the highest traffic. This tool speaks to the main problem publishers experience when it comes to monetization of content: they don’t get paid if the page is never visited and the ad never loads.

Success with CDPs

Daily Mail uses Taboola Native to optimize and deliver native campaigns, but also develops their own ad products with a brand new format better optimized for various devices and content types. The focus is on driving readers to advertiser-produced content versus solely their own work. Daily Mail not only promotes their own direct native offerings, they also earn more revenue by having Taboola backfill the units with its own advertiser demands.
Rich Caccappolo, Chief Operating Officer at, explains their use of Taboola:’s Story Blaster unit allows advertisers to align with breaking news in real time while giving our readers instant access to the content they want, when and where they want it. Taboola’s predictive technology provides a powerful back-end platform for matching our advertising partners’ messaging goals with the thousands of articles that we publish each week, and promoting the right articles to the right users at the right time, through high-impact placements.”
Daily Mail SS 2
Forbes took another approach, engaging in an exclusive strategic partnership with Revcontent to maximize desktop revenue and enhance their user experience. Forbes uses Revcontent’s brand protection tools, including custom domain blocking and blacklisting, to take full control of the content their users see. The recommended content powered by Revcontent also adds an element of engagement with their readers, with high-quality content and ads.forbes revcontent 2
CNN uses Outbrain to reach its target audience in innovative ways using the new chat bot feature. They are the first publisher to use this new medium, which allows companies to recommend personalized content in a conversational, natural way.
Like other publications, CNN also uses the service to help promote their brand and drive traffic to their site. To do this, Outbrain slots paid content links next to CNNs own content. CNN makes money if their readers click on the paid content, but they also want readers hanging around and returning to their page as an authoritative source for news.
CNN outbrain 3

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