As any marketing professional will tell you, these days content is king. In order to rank highly on Google and other search engines, and to ensure that your brand gets maximum exposure, high quality, interesting, and useful content is key to ensuring your pages get viewed and shared. But once you’ve created your content, be it in the form of an article, blog, or video, how do you ensure that you’re reaching people, and more importantly, the right people? That’s where content distribution platforms come in.
These platforms work in two ways – offering host sites the opportunity to monetize on page views via content recommendations, while allowing brands to acquire traffic to their content through these links. There are plenty of these content distribution platforms out there, with more and more start-ups jumping on the bandwagon, so it can be difficult to know who to choose. Here’s our run down of three of the best, to help you pick the right platform for you:
Marketing themselves as a content ‘discovery’ platform, Outbrain say their number one priority is the audience. This means their emphasis is on high quality content, ensuring that everyone wins – the reader gets the information they’re looking for, the host site maintains their reputation, and the brand receives more traffic. In fact, Outbrain optimises on engagement, which means that the more interesting people find your content and the more traffic it drives, the more you will be recommended.
Outbrain also differentiates itself in how it recommends content. Rather than basing recommendations purely on context (that is, related to the page you’re on), it takes into account several other factors, including popularity (what other people are reading/sharing), behaviour (people who read this also read that), and personal (based on what content you’ve already looked at). In this way, readers get a more personalised experience and are more likely to click through to the recommended content, while also having a compelling reason to go back to the host site and spend more time there.
The model works on a flexible pay-per-click basis, so if you’re looking to promote your content you control what you want to pay. You assign a daily budget, with a minimum of $10, and cost per click, and then only pay for the traffic at this CPC until your budget is reached. For host sites the service is free, with Outbrain taking a percentage of your revenue.
The advantage of the service is its focus on high quality content, which is constantly vetted by the company. You will see results right away, and it’s a great opportunity to enhance your brand through its use of big name and respected publishers. This service is especially good if your focus is on news, professional, or business content, and it can really maximise the impact of campaigns. The service works well for both SMBS, who can utilise the self-service platform, and for those with bigger budgets, who can take advantage of an account manager who is dedicated to management of the campaign.
One downside is that the optimisation of popular content that gets more impressions does not always translate to a high click through rate, which could mean a waste of budget. However, ultimately Outbrain provides an excellent platform for content distribution, whether you are looking to promote your content or to monetize on page views.
Like Outbrain, Zemanta provides a service where hosts recommend content to a large network of readers. They are looking to help you reach the largest potential audience possible, while ensuring that audience is engaged with the quality content you provide. Rather than ‘tricking’ people into clicking though, they want to base attention to content on quality, relevancy and trust.
For hosts, they work to bring you fresh readers, along with quality advertisers that understand the importance of content that shares knowledge and provides valuable experiences. The great thing is, you can optimise your performance based either on revenue or traffic, whichever you prefer. For brands, you have the opportunity to expose your content to millions of viewers.
The difference with Zemanta is, this content is promoted specifically to bloggers. Ultimately, these bloggers have the final say in what content they publish, so having great content that appeals to them for recommendation is key. However, this system means the platform is great for branding amongst a blogging audience, and attracts direct traffic from bloggers.
Zemanta works especially well if you are promoting a blog yourself, as when you are added to the network of bloggers you get a whole host of advantages. Your content is automatically provided with links to your older posts and similar posts on other blogs (the flip side of this is your posts are shown as links on other blogs in the network). This means you’re improving the reliability and authority of your blog, at the same time as being promoted on others. You are also recommended content as you write, which you can use as research or to link to. Free images, tags, and in-text links are also provided, saving you time and effort.
While joining the blog network is free, promoting your content without doing so is charged by the impression. While you need to contact Zemanta to find out the cost of your specific campaign, the service is reported as being cheaper than comparable alternatives.
An excellent tool for bloggers in particular, Zemanta provides a convenient resource for finding related content and images to improve your blog. The service isn’t great for a blog’s SEO, as content is linked back to it’s originator and not you, however, this is good news for those who use the service to promote their content.
In many ways, Taboola is similar to Outbrain. Like Outbrain, they don’t rely on relevance for the recommendations they give, and instead of focusing on getting you to click links, they are interested in what happens once you do – they want readers to stay on the site, view more content, share it, and respond to any calls to action. Like Outbrain, they do this through basing their recommendations on various factors, like social, similarity, and personal, as well as contextual.
If you’re promoting your brand, they aim to build your audience, driving traffic to your pages by recommending your content on top sites. They claim to reach over 300 million targeted and engaged readers a month, and provide tangible analytics about your content performance.
If you’re looking to monetize content, Taboola promise a direct revenue and the opportunity to boost both site traffic and ad-inventory. Through personalised recommendations, your audience will have increased engagement and are likely to stay in your site longer, view more pages, and return more often.
As with Zemanta, you’ll need to contact Taboola directly to discuss pricing for campaigns. As a host site, there are no fees to pay, and you can either choose to give a percentage of revenue to the company, or allow adverts on your site.
While Taboola is comparable to Outbrain, the choice between the two will come down to the kind of content you are looking to promote. While the service covers all content and platforms, their speciality is videos, so they are great if you’re looking to promote visual media. While Outbrain is good for news and business content, Taboola really excels in the celebrity and entertainment sphere. However, whatever your content, if you use this platform you are likely to see a significant jump in website traffic.