A content discovery platform is best described as a “recommendation engine”. It provides a mechanism by which the publisher of a website can provide their readers with a series of links to other pages that they might be interested in. The biggest content discovery platforms are Outbrain.com and Taboola.com and they use a series of algorithms to select the links to show to the reader. These companies provide a way allowing the creator of a video, article or blog post to reach a much wider audience by putting a link to it on a more popular website. Outbrain, for example, puts links on news organisations like The Guardian, The Telegraph and Sky News. These are usually at the bottom of the page under the headings “Promoted stories” and “Recommended by Outbrain”.
The main benefit for the publisher of a website or blog is that they receive a share of the money that the advertiser pays the content discovery platform to post its links on their sites. When a reader clicks on a link the advertiser is charged. The links are designed to look like “native” content – it looks like a link that is a natural part of the page promoting related content that is discovered by the reader. Another advantage for the publisher is that the links can point to other articles or videos within their own network, thus keeping the reader engaged with their own site for longer.
In order to promote content on Outbrain or Taboola an advertiser needs to open an account with them and set up a campaign. This is similar to setting up a Google display network campaign but it doesn’t offer anything like the degree of control that Google Adwords does. It is up to the discovery platform’s algorithms to determine when and where the link will be displayed. For the advertiser it’s still about driving more traffic to a website but for piece of content rather than an advertisement. The content discovery platforms do not allow an advertiser to link to a page full of adverts or a direct response landing page. The additional traffic can still be useful if the advertiser can get the visitor to interact with their site by commenting on a blog or liking it on social media.
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There has been significant growth in advertiser’s use of Content Discovery platforms in the last few years which reflects changes in the way people are using the web. People use search engines when they are looking for specific information and social media sites when there’re communicating with others and they both offer advertisers ways to get more traffic. The links provided by Content Discovery platforms are useful to them when they are looking for something else to read or watch. The increased use of mobile phones as web browsers has meant that people are consuming more content all the time and like it presented to them in a personalised way. Anyone wishing to get more traffic to a website or blog should consider testing campaigns on these platforms because at the moment they are cheaper to run than campaigns on Google or Facebook.