December 30, 2014 15:46 ET

Content Discovery Technologies Will Lead the Change in How We Interact With the Internet

SAN FRANCISCO, CA--(Marketwired - Dec 30, 2014) -  A new generation of companies is dramatically changing the Internet by harnessing discovery to give users a highly personalized web experience. 

Leading content discovery services offer a win-win for publishers and readers alike through content recommendations based on machine learning and predictive algorithms. If personalization and discovery are done right, readers benefit from tailored news feeds, highly accurate shopping and entertainment recommendations; at the same time, publishers profit from increased revenue streams through better engagement, conversion and ad targeting. However, connecting audiences with the content that is most interesting to them is much easier said than done. On the B2B side for instance, companies like Outbrain and Taboola are battling negative publicity as a result of poor content quality in their widgets.

Despite early challenges, tech businesses are poised to change the way people interact with the Internet. Well-known technology companies like StumbleUpon and Theneeds strive to provide seamless experiences by surfacing what is most relevant. In other words, if you're interested in a specific subject, you will be serendipitously connected to the best content, from leading publications to obscure blogs. The monetization potential of personalized discovery is still nascent but many believe these new technologies are going to lead the next wave of innovation online. Publishers now recognize the potential upside of personalized content recommendations, but most are not in a position to directly invest in building their own technologies. In fact, the cost for entry is significant and development talent is scarce for experts in machine learning and AI. Despite these challenges, discovery is an emerging trend among publishers. Amongst others, the Guardian and Time Inc. recently signed on partnerships that could potentially bring in hundreds of millions of dollars in advertising revenue for their online platforms.

Over the years, the online content consumption experience has changed significantly. Search engines like Google remain a primary means of finding content; at the same time, users are increasingly relying on social media and other services to provide them with news and entertainment. Social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, have revolutionized the way people find content online by providing their users with streams from friends and people they follow. These approaches take advantage of users' connections in an attempt to deliver more relevant content, but they are inherently flawed, since social feeds contain primarily what others want to share -- not necessarily items of unique interest to the user.

Content -- whether articles, videos, or pictures -- is a valuable commodity that is being produced at an astounding rate, to the point where it is nearly impossible for readers to independently discover what they want. Content marketing can help brands spread their stories online and companies like Hootsuite or NewsCred are approaching the space from different angles to provide businesses with enterprise solutions that help them better manage their social channels or execute their content marketing efforts.

"Powering meaningful personalized discovery is still very much a new technology," said Gabriele Pansa, founder of San Francisco-based Theneeds. "Every domain has unique challenges but at the core they all want to learn users' interests and preferences, have a detailed understanding of content, and an ability to leverage internal and external user signals. Bringing together these different sets of technologies requires the best know-how and great execution."

In short, these companies want users to be able to discover the best content before having to search for it, without all the effort and the noise on the Internet. That sounds like the Internet Holy Grail and we can't wait to see what the next few years will look like with these new technologies on the rise.

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