Let’s face it: not all content is created equal. An even harsher truth is that some content is merely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, masquerading as interesting or valuable information in a ploy for credit card numbers and email addresses.
You’ve seen and probably recognized these links and thumbnails before, sitting at the bottom of an article, assuring you “You May Also Like” them and warning of tell-tale signs of cancer and economic apocalypse. The fact that they often appear on well-known, trusted publisher sites can be more puzzling.
We know: we used to be partly responsible for these links at Outbrain, until we decided to move in the opposite direction and shed any marketers who tried to foist spam onto our publisher partners’ audiences. The truth is, the line between creating content to engage consumers and creating it to drive business is sometimes blurred. What we’ve learned at Outbrain is to err on the side of the users. If they stop trusting content recommendations, that trust won’t come back, and a viable business for publishers will go the way of the banner ad. Trying to extract value when promising to provide it is a sure-fire way to lose that trust.