NYMag Publisher Looking For Data And Revenue

New-York-MagWhile content recommendation engines used to be a commodity business, that’s no longer the case, said Camilla Cho, executive director of business development and strategy at New York Media.

New York Media – owner of the NYMag.com, Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street sites – is looking for partners that share its focus on using insights and analytics to drive deep engagement with readers. It’s not purely about who can provide more revenue.

So when its contract with its content recommendation engine, Outbrain, came up for renewal, New York Media tested options not only for how much revenue they brought in, but how those companies could partner with the publication and drive toward its larger goals.

“In this day and age, where so much of the content distribution powers lie with the few, very big platforms and companies, it’s becoming more and more imperative for publishers to understand data to inform a content distribution and optimization strategy,” Cho said. “That has more of a long-term impact than a quick hit of revenue.”

The amount of data and insights Taboola, a competing content recommendation engine, provided was a big reason why New York Media chose Taboola as its partner for the next two years. It’s had the technology in place since January.

New York Media is in the early stages of running different tests with Taboola to figure out how to best match its readers with different content experiences.

“The main emphasis is better segmentation of our audience based on how you’re getting to the site,” Cho said.

The publisher is already discovering that users who come in from social, for example, are more likely to browse and click on an external link. Users coming in through search, however, leave once they’ve found out what they’re looking for. That informs how the module will look.

New York Media also wants to serve readers on different sites different content, since audiences for The Cut (fashion), Vulture (entertainment), Grub Street (food) and Daily Intelligencer (news) have different content preferences.

New York Media is testing how to entice those readers to explore its other sites. Instead of only running related links in Taboola from The Cut, for example, it wants to use data to figure out how to cross-pollinate with an article from Vulture where appropriate.

Taboola’s data includes stats on “visibility,” or who actually reads down to view that content. Cho watches those stats and uses them as a proxy for engagement. If readers aren’t finishing articles, that’s something to be aware of and address.

New York Media also chose Taboola because it hopes the vendor can help it wrangle data about video. The publisher has been ramping up its video content, and Taboola – which originally started in video – has capabilities that intrigued Cho.

“Getting to this point of smart personalization, and better distribution and optimization of video content, is important for us,” Cho said. “What you see on one of our article pages, even if you’re reading the same piece of content, should be different from what I see.”

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