AOL in strategic partnership in Taboola, takes equity stake
The websites owned by AOL may soon feature headlines like “9 People You Won’t Believe Actually Exist” with a link to a story with crudely Photoshopped pictures.
These features come in from the service Taboola and you find them underneath feature stories on otherwise decent websites. That they help destroy the credibility of the sites involved is a secondary concern to the publishers who use the service as readers tend to click on the stories, driving incremental revenue for the publisher.
The new partnership announced today between AOL and Taboola appears to involve a two-way street: AOL websites get the Taboola junk stories, while Taboola gets AOL analytics. On top of this, AOL takes an equity stake in Taboola.
Looking at AOL websites I see that they have been using their own AOL platform service called Gravity. The release below doesn’t say that if they will now use Taboola, but it would be a logical next step as this may all lead to the two services being merged.
Here is AOL’s announcement:
NEW YORK, NY – January 20, 2016 — AOL today announced a strategic partnership with Taboola with the goal of delivering better content and advertising experiences for AOL’s more than 500 million and Taboola’s more than 750 million global users*.
Taboola’s leading discovery platform will be integrated across all premium brands under the AOL umbrella including AOL.com, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, AutoBlog, AOL Mail and MapQuest in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada. This will enable major brands and content marketers to reach consumers across AOL properties through high-impact sponsored content recommendations. The partnership includes desktop, tablet, mobile web, and mobile apps.
AOL and Taboola plan to advance the partnership through new data initiatives, which will offer greater insight into user-intent, as well as collaborate on mobile-first content experiences that leverage the publisher network of AOL and Taboola. Additionally, AOL expects to take an equity stake in Taboola, evidencing the desire of the parties for close collaboration on this long-term strategy.
“Beyond the traditional native advertising business, this is a strategic partnership with a big and long term vision to solve together some of the publisher issues around off-network consumption of content,” said Jimmy Maymann, EVP and President, AOL Content and Consumer Brands at AOL. “To fully be able to collaborate on that for the long term, we have the opportunity to take a stake in Taboola, which we’re excited about.”
“We’re entering a new era where social platforms are growing to become very powerful, asking users to consume content within their closed ecosystems and never leave. This is a long-term risk to journalism as we know it and publishers’ underlying business,” said Adam Singolda, Founder and CEO at Taboola. “In 2016 and the years ahead, building audience and gathering better data will become key to enabling publishers to defend their future, and we’re excited to embark on new initiatives in this area, leveraging the combined global scale of AOL, Verizon, and Taboola.”
* Source: comScore Multi-Platform Worldwide Audience Custom Entity Report, Nov’15
** Source: Taboola