It’s hard to find someone who likes Taboola.
The native advertising platform’s “chum box” of sponsored content appears at the bottom of many news stories — even on CNN — and it gets critiqued. A lot.
- From the publisher perspective: “[T]hey perpetuate fake news and [Americans’] distrust of real journalism,” Mother Jones editor-in-chief Clara Jeffery tweeted.
- From the advertiser perspective: “It’s eyeballs without conversions,” MarketerHire’s director of marketing Tracey Wallace said.
But Taboola went public earlier this year at a valuation of $2.6B.
What’s it doing right?
It’s got TikTok-level AI.
The Taboola chum box is customized on a “highly personalized basis,” Dolukhanov said.
Like the TikTok algorithm, Taboola’s content recommendation algorithm looks beyond views. It also factors in engagement metrics, like how long readers spend on the page and how far they scroll, Dolukhanov said.
(Taboola couldn’t be reached for comment.)
Contextual factors make an impact here, too — like the subject of the story the Taboola widget appears next to.
It’s ready for the privacy-first web.
Taboola content appears across a variety of publishers, which means the platform collects more first-party data than any one of its publishers could.
As third-party cookies disappear and the privacy-first web unfolds, that gives them a leg up, Dolukhanov said.
It converts. (At least at the top of the funnel.)
During Dolukhanov's tenure at The Independent, the publication had “a win-win relationship” with Taboola, he said.
They weren't alone. “People click it,” tweeted Jacob Donnelly, Morning Brew’s general manager of B2B.
Sometimes, people even buy cars from Taboola?
If you’ve invested in content marketing, Taboola could be an effective distribution channel for high-performing blogs.
Taboola can get you not just eyeballs, but the eyeballs most likely to care about your story based on past reading patterns, Dolukhanov said.
Though they might also see your content next to “How to Properly Empty Your Bowels Every Morning.” Hero image? A plate of half-peeled hard-boiled eggs.