Taboola made its name through its native-style content recommendation links that sit alongside news articles, but since acquiring ConvertMedia back in 2016, the company has incoporated in-feed video into its offering. Here Adam Singolda, Taboola’s founder and CEO, explains how Taboola tries to use video in a way which mirrors its use on social media, enabling premium publishers to offer fast-loading, personalised video content. Singolda also discusses what content works best for in-feed video ads, and how Taboola has prepared itself for the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation.
Taboola has been working with video since acquiring ConvertMedia back in 2016. What role is video playing in the Taboola offering today?
Since the acquisition of ConvertMedia in 2016, a lot has happened. We envisioned a new user experience for the Open Web – one that follows the user experience of platforms that consumers have come to know and love on social media, such as Instagram or WeChat. It is important to put the user at the centre, providing experiences that load fast, and are personalised. Publishers and brands want to diversify from the walled gardens and to funnel budgets to brand safe environments alongside quality journalism, using formats similar to those used in social networks.
Brands are jumping on to the surge in video, with the majority looking to increase their efforts in 2018. Previously, premium video placements were largely restricted to social channels (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or YouTube) and there is a real scarcity on the open web for brands to put meaningful budgets behind it. Our goal was to offer another choice. Taboola Feed’s video inventory allows buyers and marketers to distribute video across multiple platforms, all within a premium environment, “in feed”, opening up the potential of video to a far wider market and introducing brands to new audiences.
How do you prevent in-feed video from being intrusive, especially on mobile?
It’s long been our goal to make the open web a positive and engaging experience so that everyone can benefit – publishers, advertisers and consumers alike. Our video units at the bottom of the article are working well because the mindset of someone at the bottom of an article is different—they’re looking for what is next, unlike a person who is still actively consuming content. Taboola Feed offers an inherently non-interruptive environment, as they are always in view, loaded quickly; people love a similar experience on social – and that’s why we created one for the open web.
What sort of content works best for in-feed video ads?
I believe we are in a new – and exciting – era of video storytelling. I believe advertisers will adapt to in-feed video by ensuring the video tells a brand’s story in a visually compelling way that can invite in consumers, making people want to include brands as part of their day to day experiences. We should also expect new formats, from long-form to now six-second “snappy” moments, marketers and other content creators are building their brands and developing narratives through video – it just works. Especially with amazing cameras now in the hands of every consumer, and all the way to 3D, VR, Mixed Reality, AR, etc. I anticipate that we will be seeing an explosion of creativity that pushes the boundaries and finds new ways of message expression.
Which metrics are most popular with your advertisers? Is the industry measuring video correctly do you think?
Advertisers are still very comfortable with maximising viewability and completion rates at affordable prices. Performance-oriented cost-models like CPCV (cost-per-completed-view) are becoming popular; transacting on a viewable, completed view is a powerful guarantee for advertisers that customers are paying attention to their messages.
At Taboola, In addition to CPCV campaigns, we work with partners on full-funnel campaigns, deploying ad formats geared toward engagement and then optimise for conversions.
We think digital video will be a powerful part of nurturing interest and engagement levels of consumers we see around the open web. Telling sequential stories will allow marketers to be more precise and personalised in their messaging for each user.
How will GDPR affect Taboola? How are you preparing?
We are investing resources internally to raise awareness around the potential impact. We’ve appointed a Data Protection Officer and assembled a GDPR task force to work hand in hand with any of our partners who may be impacted and ensure the necessary consents are in place once GDPR takes place. We’re also working third party partners such as the European Interactive Digital Advertising Alliance, IAB Europe’s GDPR Implementation Group and our team is CIPP/E certified.
We are optimistic for the long-term because we think that while it might create initial challenges, ultimately giving open web access to user identity could be a good thing and force the open web to work together to speak about user consent and experience while building a better ad-supported internet outside the walled gardens.