The strategies put in place now by digital publishers will determine the winners and losers over the next few years. That’s the view of Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, who is overall optimistic about publishers’ futures even as Facebook and Google hoover up most of the new digital ad dollars.

“I like the challenge and I’m very optimistic,” Singolda told Which-50 during a visit to Sydney last week.

But he maintains that publishers need to innovate and find new revenue streams because “more of the same” won’t cut it.

“I do think we’ll see winners and losers because we are going to have to change our ways in the next two or three years as publishers versus what we’ve done in the past three years to find growth.

“I think we’ll see some [publishers] will grow a lot faster and some will decrease a lot faster. I think a lot of it will be driven by the decisions made today.”

Taboola, a native content amplification platform, cites its publisher focus as a differentiator from other AdTech vendors, and sees its technology as a way for publishers to claw back ad revenue from the digital duopoly.

“We think of ourselves as the Robin Hood of the open web,” Singolda said.

“We need to borrow and learn from what Google and Facebook do well and invest in what we need to do as publishers so we can sustain the business independently. Otherwise, it’s hope — and hope, as a strategy, is not amazing,” Singolda said.

Taboola, which opened an office in Australia earlier this year, is working with local publishers including MSN Australia, Daily Mail Australia, Business Insider Australia (Allure Media) and HuffPost Australia.

It’s no surprise that Taboola considers native advertising a major opportunity for publishers — but he doesn’t just want display advertising revenue to be shifted to native. Publishers need to grow net revenue.

“For me, I mainly care about publishers growing, not about if they move their display money to us. Net-net they have to grow. Philosophically I really believe it’s important local publishers stay important and alive,” he said.

Singolda sees Facebook as Taboola’s biggest competitor from an advertiser perspective because they are competing for the same native advertising budgets and offer similar placement formats. For example, Taboola Feed, which is replacing the traditional widget found at the bottom of articles, allows the publisher to mimic Facebook’s news feed on their own site.

Taboola, which is privately held, will generate a little less than $US1 billion in top-line revenue this year (50 per cent of that from mobile) Singolda said. Facebook, on the other hand, made $US27.6 billion in revenue in 2016.

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