Taboola Out At Huffington Post, AOL-Owned Gravity In

Huff Po GravityA year after AOL acquired Gravity, AOL-owned publication The Huffington Post has standardized the content personalization tool to power internal and external content recommendation links.

This means it’s history for Taboola, HuffPost’s previous recommendation module. Gravity has powered the publisher’s “Suggested For You” internal module for the past six months, and it replaced the Taboola-powered external module at the end of 2014.

For Gravity, the switch solidifies its network within the AOL family, where it’s already used on the home page and on sites like TechCrunch.

For HuffPost, personalization helps increase engagement amid changing consumption patterns. Publisher home pages no longer serve as content hubs for many users, who turn to Facebook instead. Personalized recommendations can get users to click further into the site, driving engagement.

“When people land on Huffington Post, we’re trying to show them that they don’t need to jump back, because there’s more content for them to consume,” said Spencer Sloe, VP and head of operations for the publisher. “They don’t have to read just one article via Facebook and hop out. They can have a meal and not just a snack.”

The results have borne this out: Engagement has risen on the site, and in the six months since the implementation of the right-hand rail “Recommended For You” module, “We’ve seen a big uptick in CTR, with 50% of better CTR performance compared to our original algorithm,” Sloe said.

Gravity claims its methodology yields a 240% increase in engagement, compared to a 78% increase seen from models that use behavioral targeting and collaborative filtering. Gravity’s technology creates microsegments, then serves content based on what pieces perform well within those microsegments, bolstering CTR far beyond broader segments like gender or age.

On sites like HuffPost, which posts thousands of articles a day and brings in a diverse user base, Gravity’s personalization technology makes the biggest impact.

Besides increasing recirculation, Gravity powers paid placements, much like its competitors Taboola and Outbrain. But now that HuffPost is using an internal solution, its content marketing placements will include AOL-sold “native anywhere,” which places branded content links across AOL sites.

In the year ahead, Gravity plans to “aggressively grow our network” outside and in AOL properties, said Karl Rinderknecht, COO of Gravity. “We exploded in size this year, and in 2015 we’re hoping to repeat that and continue to be a stronger and stronger player.”

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