Co-Founder & Managing Director
For those of us that aren’t familiar with Spoutable, please tell us a a little more about your company and offering.
Spoutable launched in late 2013 as an exit-discovery platform that makes recommendations as individuals leave websites. Through our “exit detection” algorithm, obsession for great design and user experience and mixing of content types (videos, articles, etc..), the platform has grown very quickly. Spoutable powers exit recommendations for leading national and international media companies as well as hundreds of independent and premium blogs and sites. We work with advertisers in two ways: 1) A La Carte: Advertisers are able to buy high impact video, article and quicklink placements in Spoutable’s exit units on an a la carte basis. This offering means our ad partners are sharing the Spoutable unit with other advertisers and/or organic recommendations; 2) Takeover: Spoutable’s takeover offering is unique in the market in that it is a 100% SOV unit from a single brand and has content (video, articles, product overviews, etc..) and custom elements to convert awareness/interest into conversions. Both options are priced on a performance basis (CPC for articles and quicklinks; CPCV for video, etc…)
The ad network landscape is extremely crowded, with 1000s of networks globally, many of them being undifferentiated. Spoutable chose to stay focused and specialize only in exit discovery ads, which is very unique. What was the original vision behind the company and specialization?
We consider ourselves a platform that drives great experiences for our three constituents – consumers, advertisers and publishers. We believe most “networks” don’t find the right balance between those three parties and we work hard to be sure those always stay in balance. Our original vision was entirely driven by a mission to help consumers discover “where to go next” as they were leaving websites. There is so much noise on the internet and it has become increasingly difficult to discover great new sites, articles, videos, etc…through search engines. So, Spoutable was born to help consumers discover great new things based on what we know about the site/content from where they are leaving. As we got quick traction with publisher partners, we started to see huge demand from ad partners and that has been a great business for us so we have remained very focused. We have found this approach to be successful because of the massive engagement we see from consumers who interact with the Spoutable experience – engagement rates within the unit and on the destination sites are off-the-charts. We will continue to focus the majority of our energies on exit discovery and are also working on some other additions to the platform that will enable even greater discovery and more monetization opportunities for our publishers and more chances to build awareness for our ad partners.
There are a few companies that offer exit intent technology to bloggers, typically for pop-ups to capture a users’ email. How does this technology work, and is it always 100% accurate?
Yes, there are definitely a number of companies that try to capture email addresses on exit – both for blogs and e-commerce sites. We are very different in that our approach is not to try to keep users on the site, but rather to give them recommendations of other content to engage with as they leave. The technology behind “exit intent” algorithms is based on a series of user behaviors that add up to very high level of accuracy in detecting when a visitor leaves. These behaviors include things such as the speed to which a website visitor is scrolling up or down a page, where the mouse and the path it is taking, etc…We have spent a lot of energy making this technology as close to 100% accurate as possible and our tests show that it is accurate about 98% of the time.
Are there certain content verticals that Spoutable specializes in?
We definitely believe in an endemic/vertical approach. We launched in the travel vertical and still have a lot of traction there. But, we have expanded very rapidly and have a lot of traction in a bunch of verticals including (but not limited to) Health & Fitness, Money & Finance, Fashion, News, Politics, and Auto. We also recently launched our “Passion Profiles” which is a unique way for us to match content to audiences based on a combo of psychographics, interests and demographics.
Starting a new network, or two-sided marketplace is hard. There needs to be enough supply to have demand interest, and enough demand for the supply-side to want to integrate. How did you jumpstart your network to ensure both sides were catered to in the beginning?
It certainly is and it takes the building of a lot of strong relationships to bring the pieces together. Our vertical approach has helped us to do well in scaling up both sides of the marketplace. When we launched, we targeted launch dates for each vertical and then worked diligently to be sure that by that date, we had premium and well-matched partners on both sides.
What are some of your biggest challenges?
Like any early stage company, our biggest challenges are about all of the opportunities that are in front of us and how to prioritize them. We constantly have companies asking us to add certain things to our product and/or to launch whole new products. We are an experienced team and know how important it is to stay really focused but it’s hard to find the balance between being both opportunistic AND focused. I would say our other big challenge is to really highlight how unique our platform is to those folks that want to buy programmatically (particularly in video). For example, our video is large player, has very high viewability, has massive CTR’s, etc…These huge advantages are easy to communicate when we have direct/strong relationships with brands and agencies. We are in the process for building our own programmatic direct solution/marketplace that will better communicate those advantages while supporting those brands and agencies that want to buy that way.
All people have become much more demanding of what ads should do and be and we think that is driving great innovation in the industry. Ultimately, advertising should really be about matching products and services to audiences that will love those products and services. We, obviously, are huge fans of native advertising and are bullish that the content that drives the brand experiences will continue to get better and better. Programmatic is such a loaded word and encompasses so many different approaches to the buying and selling of advertising. And, each player in the programmatic ecosystem does play a role. However, we think truly auction-based programmatic for bulk buying will see a backlash as few win in that world – consumers are barraged with poorly targeted messaging, publishers aren’t rewarded for their great content, and advertisers see poor engagement because targeting suffers. We really believe the rise of premium programmatic will continue and be fueled by significant tech (Machine Learning, better algorithms, etc…) – this will give greater and greater efficiencies in buying while being better and delivering better results for all. We are also fascinated by the mobile ad world and think that we are, largely, still trying to just take ad approaches that sort of work on desktop and translate that into a mobile world. The reality is that mobile still needs ad solutions (native and otherwise) that leverage the unique behaviors, constraints, challenges and opportunities of mobile.
What are some innovations happening in digital advertising now that you are excited about?
Better “open platform” matching of ads: Facebook and other “closed platforms” have been so smart and I think we are still fairly early in true matching that goes far beyond geo and typical demographical things.
Real Machine Learning solutions: Taking the power and promise of Machine Learning and applying it to some of the hard challenges of truly delivering better digital advertising experiences to the right folks at the right time.
How do you think the whole ad blocking issue will play out?
It certainly is a challenge that publishers and platforms will have to face to a greater and greater degree – viewing content without paying for it won’t be and shouldn’t be tolerated by the content creators and their partners. The truth is…in any industry…when there isn’t enough value being provided by players in that industry, they will be “un-invited to the party.” So, as ad blocking continues to rise, there will be great innovation in how attention and access to great media/content/experiences get monetized. I think we will see innovations in micro-subscriptions, a continued rise in native that is even more native/content-driven, etc…The reality is it takes a lot of time and energy to create great content and content creators should be rewarded and people putting on ad blockers is a sign that they aren’t willing to pay for content in a way that is annoying and disruptive. I’m bullish that our industry has a lot of smart people that are working on making the monetization of content as enjoyable and interesting as the content itself. It’ll be a tough road to get from here to there and requires that we all work together – advertisers, publishers and platforms.
Lastly, what is your take on the future of ad networks?
As I said in my last answer, those companies that don’t “add value” to and industry will find it harder and harder to survive. Just brokering banner ads isn’t a sustainable business model if you aren’t adding greater value to the equation. So, I think the future of ad networks is that those that act more like “open platforms” – with their own monetization products, strong technologies that increase more than just “fill”, a unique position and promise in the market, etc…will be incredibly successful. Those that don’t innovate and instead just are brokers of ad space, will see their margins and opportunities erode. We’re very bullish on ad tech and the innovations that are to come.
Spoutable is the world’s first ad exchange that empowers people to discover where to go next as they leave a website or app. Spoutable makes recommendations of “where to go next” to visitors as they are leaving your site. Premium publishers use Spoutable to drive new revenue while adding value for their existing users.
The Spoutable Splash Exchange (SSX) is a new and premium way to get discovered right when people are looking for you. Through unique technology and highly curated publishers, SSX helps drive more people to your articles, videos, sites, and apps. Whether you are a publisher or an advertiser, Spoutable makes your life easy. It only takes five minutes to get started and is simple to manage and track.
Founded in 2014, our company is headquartered in San Diego with a presence in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. Spoutable is being incubated at Cursive Labs.
For more information, visit us at spoutable.com or contact us at email@example.com.