AOL is getting more focused on discovery and recommendation, entering a strategic partnership with content recommendation firm Taboola; the deal includes AOL’s taking an equity stake in the company.
AOL will integrate Taboola's discovery platform across all of its premium brands in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom, including AOL.com, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, AutoBlog, AOL Mail and MapQuest.
The move is designed to improve the ability of brands and content marketers to reach consumers across AOL properties through sponsored content recommendations. The partnership includes desktop, tablet, mobile web, and mobile apps.
AOL says the deal will include new data initiatives that will offer greater insight into user-intent, as well as collaborate on mobile-first content experiences that leverage the publisher network of AOL and Taboola.
"Beyond the traditional native advertising business, this is a strategic partnership with a big and long term vision to solve together some of the publisher issues around off-network consumption of content," said Jimmy Maymann, EVP and President, AOL Content and Consumer Brands at AOL. "To fully be able to collaborate on that for the long term, we have the opportunity to take a stake in Taboola, which we're excited about."
Taboola was founded in 2007 in Israel.
It had raised some $34 million in venture funding through 2013, and also has received an undisclosed amount of cash from Baidu.
It acquired Perfect Market, a company that powers text-based advertising on publishers' websites in August of 2014.
"In 2016 and the years ahead, building audience and gathering better data will become key to enabling publishers to defend their future,” said founder and CEO Adam Singolda.
Taboola reportedly reaches 400 million monthly unique visitors and serves 1.5 billion recommendations daily. After acquiring Perfect Market, it reported a revenue run rate of $250 million.
But Taboola – like competitor Outbrain – has drawn criticism for the links it places as “related content,” which often seems to have no connection whatsoever to the content it appears with.
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