Publishers Sitting on a Goldmine

by Richard Shea
February 6th, 2014

If I was asked for one slide that best captured the motivation behind the technology and business direction of Yieldbot it would still be this original one. It IS the elevator pitch. And the points it makes are clear.

This slide is actually from the presentation that @jonathanmendez first made to me over four years ago when he was pulling me in to build Yieldbot with him. All this time later, it still best sums up the motivation behind our technology and how we view our market. I was fairly new to ad tech in 2009 and the thing I remember coming away thinking the most after our first conversation was: “It’s not already done that way?”.

Everything captured in that slide is as true in 2014 as it was in 2009 before any lines of code for Yieldbot had been written. In an industry that embraces the pivot, it’s nice to have a slide that could still be used five years from now as much as it could five years ago.

Intent is Generated in the Publisher Domain

Search gets to take a peek at users’ intent as they do part of their navigation through content on the web. But when a user is searching, they’re searching *for something*. Search is a tool for getting the user to what they want. Publisher content is where users spend their time discovering new interests. Or digging deeper into existing interests. Their clickstream through the site and what they interact with is how they express what they are REALLY interested in.

Yieldbot’s analytics discovers the intent of the publisher’s users to use relevance as a tool for effectively monetizing the publisher’s users interests. When advertising is relevant to the user’s intent, it is not seen as intrusive. Done right it can augment the user’s experience by delivering to them something that they are interested in. Something that matches their intent.

Only Pubs Can Effectively Harvest Visitor Event & Contextual Data

Publishers have a direct relationship with their users. As users consume content they are signaling what they are interested in. Yieldbot’s technology lets publishers leverage this relationship, taking the value created by the content and making it monetizable when and where possible.

Yieldbot’s javascript is loaded directly on the publisher’s page. This arrangement is similar to first-generation web analytics. But while first-generation web analytics was useful for understating what happened in the past, Yieldbot is driven by real-time understanding of what is happening on the publisher’s site and in the users’ sessions, and can take action on it in real-time. Yieldbot’s decisioning algorithms take into account the full range of context such as the site referrer to the session and time of day.

Only Pubs Can Weave Ad Optimization Tech Into the Experience

The publisher owns the experience on their site. This is where the three dimensions of optimization come together – the visitor and their intent, the context of their clickstream, and the creative for the message. This is what Yieldbot’s technology does – our machine learning algorithms running in real-time with our ad decisioning pick the most relevant action presented in the way that’s most engaging.

Other approaches, by not optimizing based on relevance, are by definition optimizing on the wrong thing for the user and publisher (and advertiser for that matter). Retargeting for example optimizes to a cookie that was set some time in the past on some other domain, without regard for whether the message is relevant to the user at that moment. That’s why retargeting examples are so jarring. More often than not their message is no longer relevant, and the experience is a reminder to the user that they’re being followed around the web; in the process detracting from the experience on the current publisher site. Contextual, as another example, only looks at one of the factors for relevance and can only drive simple targeting rules that are broadly defined.

The key here is that optimizing for relevance wins. Both brand and performance advertisers want relevance and will pay a premium either for relevant placement or performance (a natural byproduct of relevance). Publishers have a double-win of relevant messaging alongside their content from an experience point of view, as well as collecting the premiums that relevance brings from the advertisers. And the user always benefits from relevance in their overall experience of getting at what they are interested in.

Only Pubs Can Accomplish the Above Without Privacy Issues

Yieldbot does not track users across the web. We support Do Not Track initiatives because we don’t think relevance for anyone involved (the user, the advertiser, and the publisher) depends on this type of tracking to be effective. Our results back this up.

With Yieldbot the value of the publisher’s media is not diluted by bringing the insights about a user’s intent and trying to monetize them somewhere else. Let retargeters dilute the value of the publisher’s media and dilute the relevance to the user. By contrast Yieldbot makes decisions based on the user’s intent on this particular site at this particular time.

Pubs Are Sitting on a Goldmine

For all of the reasons above, publishers are indeed sitting on a goldmine. Their domain is where users engage with content and express their interests. If this is the information age, then the value is where the information is. Publishers own the value of the web. Until we built Yieldbot, they were just lacking the technology that allows them to realize that value.

— @shearic

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