The Internet was abuzz with valuable content marketing advice on Friday, including two pieces that cite Outbrain as a valuable content distribution partner. On Mashable, Joe Lazauskas, co-founder and CCO of Faster Times Media, lists five reasons why content marketing efforts might be falling short of expectations, and on Business Insider, Ramon Ray & the Smallbiztechnology.com Team discuss what bloggers can do to catch up to rivals with larger traffic volume. Even if you’re not considering a partnership with Outbrain, these two pieces are worth a quick read, especially if you feel like you’re not driving the amount of traffic your work deserves. A positive mention is always nice, but it’s even better when it comes packaged within beneficial information and advice.
Big data can be a tremendous asset for driving traffic to publisher sites. However, one of the other cool things it can be used for is keeping audiences engaged beyond the first click after they enter through social media. Unlike search, publishers can leverage social data and followings to skyrocket engagement.
For more information on how brands and publishers can make effective use of technology to enhance the power of their content, check out Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai’s article critiquing recent Digiday coverage. In the piece he explains why he rejoices when he hears that banner ads are dying, he praises ESPN’s multimedia platform approach and he lauds P&G for its powerful storytelling.
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A few days ago I tweeted a quote by Dave McClure of 500Startups: “Startups should NOT be measured by how much FUNDING they raise, rather by how much AWESOME they create / REVENUE they get.” (via @hnshah - thanks!)
I couldn’t think of a better way to start the blog post announcing Outbrain’s new round of funding of $35M, led by Index Ventures. This more than doubles our funding to date, bringing it to a total of $64M since we started the company. While some will surely obsess over the amount of money raised, Dave McClure’s quote is a perfect reminder of what’s really important: How much more AWESOME can we create? For Outbrain, awesome means several things: How many more readers or video viewers can we delight with interesting content links? How much more engaging can we help make publisher websites? How many more uniques can we help drive to our buyers’ articles and videos? This new round of funding will enable us to extend our commitment to our mission of serving people the most interesting content links, be it paid links or organic ones, on the web or on the mobile site, and to an article page or to a video. We plan on using the funding in several ways to achieve this:
Continue expanding globally by providing our content discovery engine in more languages and more geographies. In 2011, we expanded to the UK, France and Germany, and in 2012 we plan to continue that expansion.
Delight people who are consuming content on more devices and screens. In 2011, we expanded our service to publishers’ mobile websites. There are other screens and devices where people consume their favorite content, and we’d love for Outbrain to be of service in those places.
Recommend the best content, regardless of its type. In 2011, we started powering content recommendations in video in addition to text articles. We’ll be looking to strengthen our commitment to all types of publisher content.
Continue investing heavily in the development of the best algorithms in the world for content recommendations, while supporting a robust and highly scalable serving infrastructure.
We chose to do this round with our new partner – Index Ventures – for several reasons. First and foremost, Dominique Vidal, who is joining our Board of Directors, is a perfect match both in his experience as founder of Kelkoo and x-CEO of Yahoo Europe, and in his vision for Outbrain’s future. Secondly, Index is a truly global VC firm with deep roots in the European markets where we are expanding. We couldn’t have imagined a better fitting partner for the company at this stage.
We’re excited to have our previous investors join this round as well. They have been instrumental in helping us build everything we’ve built to date, and helping us stay heads-down focused on delivering AWESOME to our customers.
See the official press release and coverage on Ad Age, All Things D, Betabeat, Fast Company, GigaOm, Paid Content, TechCrunch and VentureBeat for more information.
The unstoppable rise of Facebook and the social culture of sharing in which consumers now live means marketers are having to re-assess how they build a community or audience around their brand. One of the results is a blurring of the lines between content and commerce. More brands and e-commerce sites are moving into the realms of publishing, creating high-quality editorial content online (ASOS or NET-A-PORTER are great examples) to engage consumers, develop the brand and ultimately lead to sales.
The result is that consumers can experience content overload, and it becomes increasingly difficult for them to find interesting content online. In turn, for content creators, getting this highly relevant and interesting content discovered by the right audience is becoming an increasingly urgent priority.
Whereas SEO might once have been the answer, the rise of social sharing means that relying on SEO is no longer enough. We’ve moved away from the notion that searching is the only way to find content online, and brands need to adopt their strategies to move away from content that has previously been created for SEO. The key change is that content then, must now be created with people in mind and not search engine crawlers.
Creating good, interesting content will not only appeal to readers when they reach it — it will also help SEO. When editors, bloggers and users like content they will link to it and share it with their friends — building links and increasing traffic — both of which help SEO. Once users are on the site, keeping them there and engaged with good content will help as lower bounce rates are also good for SEO.
It’s tough being an online content publisher these days.
While the flow of advertising dollars into digital continues to increase—online advertising spending is expected to grow 20% to $31.3 billion in 2011 in the U.S. alone, according to eMarketer—it has not resulted in higher CPMs for publishers.
Rather, the increase in spending is spread thin across a crowded field of technology middlemen (i.e. ad networks, exchanges, data providers, DSPs, etc.).
And it is largely following increased audience usage of digital media as opposed to resulting in larger payouts per page view for content creators.
Meanwhile, the cost of producing content remains stubbornly high. Recent developments like Google’s Panda update, which rewards original and high quality content in search results, as well as the increasing amount of traffic directed by the social Web via “word-of-mouth” will likely sustain the expensive cost of developing quality content.
When the balance sheet reflects a disparity between the price of producing content and the revenue it can realize, a shift is necessary. In order to increase monetization, online publishers must recognize the two halves of the problem and tackle them in different ways:
1. Drive higher audience engagement to increase valuable supply
2. Add new revenue streams, without subverting goal No. 1, to increase demand