Hidden in the text of a press release announcing an extended partnership, AOL announced Wednesday that it plans to take an equity stake in Taboola to demonstrate "the desire of the parties for close collaboration on this long-term strategy."
When asked how much of a stake, an AOL spokesperson told SearchBlog that "while we’re not disclosing, we always look for opportunities to go beyond just a vendor-customer relationship and deliver on a more long-term strategic vision."
As one of the Web’s largest publishers, AOL is familiar with many issues publishers face when their content gets consumed off the network.
"Our deeper partnership with Taboola through an investment ensures we’ll be able to collaborate much more closely on new platform and data enhancements," an AOL spokesperson confirms.
Taboola's technology relies on multiple signals such as the type of content the person most frequently consumes, time of day, day of the week, social preferences, device type, location, and referral source.
AOL will integrate Taboola’s platform across its brands such as AOL.com, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, AutoBlog, AOL Mail and MapQuest in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.
The deal between AOL and Taboola aims to combine search and discovery on publisher sites, similar to the agreement Taboola made with Baidu last year. In May 2015, the Chinese search engine announced a multimillion-dollar investment partnership in Taboola, an investment that followed a $117 million Series E round of financing in February.
Taboola's content marketing platform links widgets to content, allowing marketers to connect related articles, videos, and slide shows from within the site and other publishers. The company estimates that it serves more than 300 billion recommendations to about 750 million unique visitors monthly on USA TODAY, Business Insider, Chicago Tribune and The Weather Channel, among others. The links in the related content widgets typically appear at the bottom of a blog post or news article, but in the past gained a reputation for linking to the worst the Web has to offer. Some have called it spam rather than content.
For publishers the content provides a direct link from one page to another, but also from search engines Bing, Google and Yahoo to pages on their site. Optimizing that content pushes Web pages closer to the top of search engine query results.