Taboola, a content discovery platform that works with hundreds of publishers, is expanding its personalized recommendation offerings to include the mobile app download space—a move that its founder says could potentially help win money away from the growing market dominated by Google and Facebook.
For the launch, announced today, Taboola will begin working with advertisers such as Match.com and InnoGames to drive app downloads based on the type of content people are viewing instead of their demographic identity. By partnering with mobile attribution companies such as Tune, Adjust, AppsFlyer and Kochava, Taboola said it will be able to better measure downloads and other campaign-related data.
“We’ve always said we’re not a content recommendation company we’re a discovery company,” Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, said in an interview. “With search you can search for everything, our goal over time is to recommend everything people like.”
According to Singolda, the goal is to “democratize the budgets” as the mobile app market is continuing to grow around the world, especially in the Asia-Pacific region, where “mobile is everything” in places like China and India.
“Now that we have the attribution capabilities and all the data that Taboola sits on,” Singolda said. “My hope is that we can then democratize some of this market and unlock it from the walled gardens into the open web.”
For years, Facebook and Google have continually increased their offerings for driving mobile app downloads, with Google boasting about driving 2 billion downloads by the middle of 2016. Last year, Facebook introduced tools to identify valuable audiences based on activities users were doing within apps.
Singolda credited companies like Facebook and Twitter for driving interest in the mobile app download market, adding that he thinks Taboola’s expansion is not as much a way to compete with them, and more of a way to complement what they’re already doing.
Taboola has also been buying companies to help with the personalization process. In January it acquired Commerce Sciences—a company which built an “Amazon-style” platform for ecommerce recommendations—to help publishers segment audiences based on where they are, which device they’re using, what time it is, and where the site referral originated. In July, it bought ConvertMedia, to help drive video revenue for publishers while better competing with Snapchat, YouTube and Facebook.
Singolda said he thinks publishers will continually increase how they personalize not just content recommendations, but also website design. Taboola raised $6 million from Google co-founder Eric Schmidt’s venture capital fund to build out the tools, which he said could help publishers someday have not just one website, but 10 or more versions based on what users prefer. He said that while Taboola’s business model has been largely focused on recommendations at the bottom of the website, but that doesn’t help if 80 percent of people don’t finish a story.
“If someone is a zombie and statistically won’t read more than three paragraphs, why do you give that person the full article? Maybe you should collapse it and have them read more so they can decide,” Singolda said. “If this question were to be asked in a commerce retail audience, they would absolutely split the site into two versions—one for zombies and one for regular people.”