Actually, I’m going to rephrase that. Using the label ‘product update’ actually does it a great disservice. What we have done is rebuilt our entire platform from scratch.
Everything from the code, to user interfaces, to product functionality has been redesigned.
Does this mean we have pivoted? No, not really. We’ve evolved.
For most of last year, we conducted a big research project. We collected responses from thousands of consumers and met with hundreds of publishers, marketers and industry stakeholders.
Out of this, something became perfectly clear.
No one company is going to solve the cause of ad blocking or publisher monetization challenges on their own. This is not a ‘winner takes all’ problem to solve.
But, collectively, companies will. And, all of them will contribute their own distinctive technology, thought leadership, or policies into the marketplace to do so.
This made us realise we needed to contribute a more holistic solution to the wider problems the industry was facing within our domain of expertise – sponsored content.
But, our first effort was not up to this task.
Last August, we officially launched our first product into the marketplace after a long beta testing period.
Our patent-pending technology circumvented ad blockers and served sponsored content recommendations instead of traditional ads. It worked, and still does to this day.
However, the only real innovation with this product was the ability to consistently circumvent ad blockers.
Do not get me wrong, this was an unprecedented achievement, but it was also a pretty one-dimensional solution when placed within the wider context of the digital ad industry’s core problems.
Simply put, we were rolling out a direct response content recommendation ad network for ad blocked page views. Frankly, there are enough of these in existence already for unblocked page views, and many of them now pay to be whitelisted by the ad blockers.
This model is not particularly sophisticated and comes with serious limitations for publishers in terms of yield management, for marketers in terms of ad effectiveness, and for consumers in terms of ad experience.
What’s important, though, is that sponsored content recommendations work well despite these limitations. Consumers engage with them on a meaningful level unlike anything else – both visually and through physical interactions.
The format is appealing, but all-too-often the content distributed within it is not.
With the right technology and marketplace infrastructure in place, the value and experience of this advertising medium could improve exponentially.
In terms of the ratio of advertising dollars spent on sponsored content recommendation inventory versus the amount of consumer attention they receive, we consider it to be one of the most undervalued ad mediums on the web.
Unlike other ad formats, such as video and display, which have evolved significantly in recent years and are now supported by a comprehensive ecosystem of technologies on both the buy and sell side, sponsored content recommendations have not.
In short, sponsored content recommendation inventory is being massively undervalued through lack of innovation.
What’s more, a focus on click-driven business models has spurred a race to the bottom in user experience. Obscene clickbait widgets now plague the web at the bottom of seemingly every article – and beyond.
So, an advertising medium that is intrinsically appealing and user friendly is being degraded to the point where it is encouraging ad blocking adoption.
There are few ad formats in existence that consumers are naturally drawn too and seek out. Sponsored content recommendations are one, but this may not be for much longer unless things change quickly.
The format is crying out for innovation. So, we’re going to be powering this.
We’re going to provide technology that unlocks the true dollar value of this medium. We’re going to provide infrastructure that enables marketers to connect with consumers in a more three-dimensional way. And, we’re going to provide functionality that fosters a better consumer experience.
This will be for all traffic, not just ad blocking audiences.
The name of our new platform? Content Recommendation Server.
If you’re interested in becoming a beta partner, get in touch.