Content recommendation services like Outbrain and Taboola post linked thumbnail images leading to what is supposed to be related material, but the quality and relevance can sometimes be left wanting.
In a move intended to offer higher quality and more relevant content to readers, Outbrain has announced the launch of Sphere. Using new state-of-the-art algorithms, content suggestions lead only to relevant content on the websites of other publishers in the Sphere ecosystem.
As such it is a closed content recommendation platform, available on an invitation-only basis to selected premium publishers – at launch this consisted of Meredith Corporation, Time Magazine and The Washington Post among others.
The goal is to increase relevancy and quality, and in the process reduce clickbait and encourage long term user engagement. This aim will be complemented by a brand new revenue system where Sphere’s founding publishing partners get 100% of the revenue on the clicks leaving their sites. Outbrain will only get compensated for longer/deeper user engagement with additional articles or videos on the publisher receiving the users.
A Universal CPC of $0.015 has also been implemented for all partners in the Sphere network in the hope that by leveling the playing field, user engagement will become the defining criteria, not the number of clicks.
Outbrain intends to launch Sphere in Europe, although for now, it is US-only.
For many publishers, the key question, however, is what criteria Outbrain is using to define the label ‘premium publisher’ and more crucially, whether they fall within its parameters. On that score, Outbrain has remained quiet.