Forbes has tapped AOL’s Gravity -- the personalized content recommendation platform AOL acquired for $83 million one year ago -- as its exclusive native content ad platform for desktop.
The ads will appear on the bottom of each Forbes article in a list of “promoted stories” that fits the look of Forbes’ overall layout. It’s quintessential native advertising: it looks like the other content on the site, but it's marked as sponsored and it’s paid for by advertisers.
Gravity uses “interest graphs” to decide which promoted stories to show which consumers; it’s the company’s own form of targeting. Per Media Daily News, the interest graphs are “based on individuals’ interests, preferences and habits which in turn helps publishers offer a more tailored and relevant selection of editorial and ad content to readers.”
The ads are drawn from Gravity’s native ad network, which houses a pool of “advertorial” content created by publishers and brands.
According to a release, the partnership will be initially focused on increasing user engagement with the native ads.
“To provide you a basic sense, an end of post unit with an equal amount of onsite and promoted content recommendations averages 3-5% CTR, with onsite content usually, though not always, out-performing promoted content," Karl Rinderknecht, CEO of Gravity, told Real-Time Daily.
He stressed, however, that the “click-through rates (CTRs) vary by the screen real estate dedicated to the native ads and by the type of content being promoted.”
Rinderknecht said Gravity decides which content to promoted based on a combination of personalization, performance (CTR/engagement) and price (PPC). He acknowledged that Gravity “understands the nature of your interests the more you browse within the Gravity partner networks,” which includes Forbes, AOL, Huffington Post, TechCrunch and more.
He also recognized that price “can be a very important component,” adding that “some advertisers will increase their PPC bid in order to reach a broader audience.” This may cause some of the recommended content to not be quite as personalized as the consumer would expect.
“Ultimately, we put the publisher in charge of the ad experienced,” said Rinderknecht.