How to Attract Eyeballs to Branded Content

Millions more pageviews

Web publishers and big brands are starting to feel the pull of Gravity.

The four-year-old Web personalization tech firm, founded by former Myspace COO Amit Kapur, helps publishers surface more relevant content to their users based on a wealth of data. Since opening its platform to publishers via an API in February, Gravity has been adopted by 50-plus sites, including TechCrunch, Sporting News and Wetpaint. And more recently, Gravity has started helping brands like Gap, McDonald’s and Tide to attract more eyeballs to branded content.

What is Gravity exactly? Per Kapur, the company has built a better personalization mousetrap; its tools can identify content that Web users are more likely to respond to based on their behavior all over the Web. Per Kapur, Gravity’s algorithm focuses on implicit data, not explicit data (similar to the message Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has been preaching).

“Personalization has been around as concept for a long time,” said Kapur. “The main difference is that we don’t require the user to do work. When you move from explicit to implicit, [you get a] much richer, more dynamic view of the user.”

Sure, but doesn’t every data vendor and Web-lookalike-finding company make the same claim?

In this case, Kapur argues that Gravity’s proprietary algorithm blends a user’s browsing history and social activity using strictly semantic analysis from numerous sources. And it gets smarter over time. The more sites you visit employing Gravity’s tools, the better the results a user will encounter. “Because we can look at how interests trend over time,” Kapur said, “that enables us to do this at an exponentially bigger scale.” And Gravity’s tech also grades the strengths of a user’s interests at any given moment in time, Kapur claims.

Since the entertainment site started working with Gravity in December, it’s been able to generate 1 million extra pageviews a month while delivering its partners an extra 150,00 visits a week.

In the past, Wetpaint’s editors would hand-curate a group of recommended articles for users who check out a story on JWoww. Now, Gravity automates that process and does a better job with its picks, said Wetpaint’s Alex Weinstein, senior director of technology and product. “It’s been mind-blowing,” he said. “All that new traffic translates to revenue.”

Similarly, Gap has tested using Gravity over the past few months, seeding content from its style blog across a network of Gravity partner sites. “They’ve done a great job,” said Brent Hall, group media director at Gap’s agency, AKQA. “It’s a bit of a black box, but they seem to be able to find people who are not [only] interested in jeans but interested in jeans this week.”

The instructional video site Revolution Golf has also recently tried Gravity’s tool suite. “With our target, it would’ve seemed obvious: just give us business sites,” said Wayne Caparas, at Revolution Golf. “But they’re able to find specific business pages and types of stories, even time of day. Their algorithms are much more effective.”

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