Evolving Advertising Technology Increases Personalization

Data is the future of online media. For years, media companies have struggled to generate profits and have relied on online advertising as a substantial revenue stream.

From rich media to video, content production powerhouses, and sophisticated behavioral targeting markets, advertising technology is evolving at lightning speed to help marketers achieve precise results.

“With the explosion of digital media, ad space inventory is increasing quickly, while at the same time advertisers are making more focused and efficient buys than ever before,” wrote Ben Elowitz for AllThingsD. “Great news for advertisers — but bad news for publishers with inventory to sell.”

Publishers are under immense pressure to make substantive and personalized connections with advertisers’ target markets. That’s where the following tech trends come into play.

Content Personalization

A Santa Monica-based startup called Gravity is aiming to power a new frontier of personalization in online media.

“It’s a pretty big mission,” says the company’s business development manager Nick Frazee. “We want to build a smarter Internet with technology that helps publishers fully understand their readers.”

Through a content personalization widget, Gravity aims to help publishers more effectively connect with their audiences.

“Think about the very beginnings of online media,” explains Frazee. “The content produced was at a reasonable scale that we could manage. Over time, that inventory has grown dramatically and will continue to exponentially increase.”

Content personalization helps connect the right information with the right people, based on their precise interests.

“Gravity relies on user interest graphs to determine what people like to read,” says Frazee. “The engine evaluates information on a human-to-human level. It’s not making assumptions based on an average or pool of what groups of readers like. We measure precise interests on an individual level.”

Native Advertising

A common problem for publishers and advertisers is banner blindness — the theory that users will instantly ignore what looks like an ad. Native advertising is online media’s response to the pressing needs for brands to reach audiences in a meaningful and engaging way.

Rather than running advertisements, brands are partnering with publishers to produce meaningful content that customers love. That means removing sales pitches from the equation and prioritizing branded thought leadership instead.

“If you look at print, television, and others, everything has had native advertising in some form,” explains Frazee. “My theory is that the web is a media iteration that has, up to this point, been widely untapped. We’re beginning to see a standard being set and companies producing amazing content. Brands are so good that these units barely feel like ads.”

Leading the charge are major publishers and mid-level consumer websites. The goal is to help advertisers build engaging, long-term relationships with their target consumer base. Within this native advertising landscape, content personalization will be key.

Cross-Platform Discovery Engines

Users are constantly looking for new material to read, and they want information delivered immediately, with minimal effort. Audiences are no longer confined to computers, either. They’re on phones and tablets, in between business meetings, during doctor’s office wait times, and on their train commutes to work.

Companies like LinkedIn’s Pulse, News360, and Flipboard are creating mobile tools to help cross-platform users discover new content that matches their exact interests.

Gravity is taking its own products, including a personalized newsfeed, and creating a cross-platform experience.

“All of our tools are responsively built so that they will scale to any experience,” says Frazee. “The whole idea of catering to the user at any given time should be a top priority. What are the exact five stories that will intrigue a reader at any given time?”

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