Parse.ly Expands Its Remit To Track How Content Drives Conversions

Content is king. And great content gets readers to sign up.

The content analytics company Parse.ly has long captivated publishers with its intuitive dashboard to track how articles perform. In October, the 10-year-old company added functionality that tracks conversions.

Parse.ly clients can now analyze the type of content people read before they convert. Then they can write more articles that drive the business results they want, like subscriptions, event sign-ups or product purchases.

In adding conversions, CEO Sachin Kamdar identified an opportunity to appeal beyond Parse.ly’s traditional customer base of digital media brands.

While traditional pubs such as Bloomberg, Hearst, Condé Nast and NBC use Parse.ly, so do content-driven brands such as Ladders, WeddingWire, AngelList, Convene, Realtor.com and The Nature Conservancy.

Both groups want to track outcomes. As digital media companies shift focus from mass scale to engagement, they want customers that like their brand enough to pay for subscriptions, events and products. And marketers see an opportunity in content that establishes a dialogue with potential customers, especially as costs rise on platforms and the loss of cookies makes it harder to find them around the internet.

Kamdar spoke with AdExchanger.

AdExchanger: Parse.ly just added a conversions tracker. Are you shifting to serve marketers, or staying focused on publishers?

SACHIN KAMDAR: Publishers are good at building audiences, and not so good at transacting them. Marketers have a lot of expertise and tech to get people to convert at the bottom of the funnel, but they are missing out on growing topline audiences. Parse.ly helps them build the best first-party, loyal audiences and figure out how to get them to transact. Marketers and publishers are meeting in the middle.

Why are brands interested in using the conversions product?

Marketers want to get a customer to transact, but it’s just as important to get that customer to register, to self-identify. Prices are going up on Facebook, Twitter, Google, and there’s a sense of fear that we’re relying so heavily on these platforms. If a recession hits, we need a defensible strategy for the future. If budgets get slashed, how can we make sure we have our own audiences to transact against?

What are Parse.ly’s blind spots as browsers block trackers?

Safari is preventing our pixel from loading, which means we can’t see the user coming to your site. We are actively working on a couple of solutions that will help them not just get around cookie blocking, but also get around things like ad blockers as well. There are technical ways to protect the privacy of the user and understand what’s going on.

What impact will privacy legislation have on your business?

The implication is more on the advertising side. How do privacy laws and browser changes affect my belief in reaching the right person through display ads? Do display ads take a hit? Do I spend more on platforms? Or do I grow my own identified audiences? 

What’s your take on the consolidation happening in media today?

There is a natural inclination for that to happen – they’ve raised a lot of money and need to see an outcome.

The broader content market is much bigger. You have companies like Acquia, that runs Drupal, which just got acquired for $1 billion by Vista Equity Partners. Salesforce invested in WordPress Automattic. Why are these companies that have been focused on marketing software investing in content companies? It’s the next big thing. Content becomes the way you take control of your data, your experience and your messaging, in a way that ads just can’t do.

Publishers have smaller budgets than marketers, so it’s harder for tech companies to focus on media companies. Are you moving to serve marketers as well?

We’re still growing aggressively in the publisher market. We aren’t segmenting the two, and we don’t have a team that’s going after publishers or non-publishers. Our team is focused on providing the best content analytics platform, because [marketer and publisher] needs heavily overlap.

How many customers are publishers?

We work with 400 customers across the world. From a revenue perspective, it’s 60% digital media and entertainment. We have a SaaS-based model based on the number of visitors.

Parse.ly last raised a $6.8 million Series B round in 2017, and the company was profitable. Are you still profitable? 

We’re growing at the rate we want to maintain profitability. The recession will hit sometime, and we’re prepared to take that on, so we don’t have to scramble during a downturn.

We’re investing for the long term. We think about building products that are long-term sustainable, not short-term trends.

Can you give me an example?

There was a time where we were building reporting for sponsored content, and there was a push to get us to manage it. SimpleReach went down that path, and I’m not sure if they’re around anymore. Sponsored content is still a revenue source, but we didn’t centralize the company’s mission around sponsored content, because we didn’t think it would sustain the industry.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

 

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