Yes, Google should be somewhat worried about this collaboration. This is why
Taboola, the world’s largest content discovery platform, has announced a massive deal with Microsoft to integrate Taboola’s software into major MSN websites. The deal will also see Taboola rolled out to 50 different countries, with content supported by MSN in 24 languages.
The integration of Taboola onto MSN websites will be seen in several ways. The two services that MSN users will interact with the most are page personalization, which will change MSN pages in real-time based on data about the user, and Audience exchange, which will recommend Microsoft services to users, such as Windows 10 upgrades for users still on 7 and 8 or apps for Windows phones.
Marketers and editors will see benefits from Taboola native, which places featured content in high traffic areas like the homepage, or sections such as news or sports. Taboola news room will provide data around items like headlines, thumbnails, or placement to further engagement.
This partnership allows leaders from two industries to further their reach, which is essential in this difficult time for adtech. Services such as Adblockers have caused a downturn in the market for traditional digital advertising. This threatens not only revenue but also content providers’ ability to produce quality content for free. Taboola personally experienced this downturn toward the end of 2015 when Fidelity briefly downgraded their valuation (in late December, Fidelity upgraded their valuation), despite being the leader in curated content and managing to pass 1.15 billion clicks a month.
But why MSN?
MSN has become a bit of a joke among internet users, particularly in comparison to tech platform news sites such as Google News or Yahoo! News. Most people view MSN as the internet version of a nursing home, dominated by the elderly, a place where anyone with a pulse would not dare to tread.
So it might surprise many to hear that MSN still has an active user base. Microsoft sites, under which MSN is classified, bring in large amounts of traffic, as demonstrated in the comScore rankings for November of 2015, which saw over 183 million unique views across mobile and desktop visitors. Microsoft-owned sites are the fifth most visited, trailing only Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and Amazon.
MSN choosing to use Taboola, rather than develop their own unique content recommendation system like Google and Yahoo! did, is a massive vote of confidence for the startup. This will also help make them more enticing for other companies looking to employ targeted content curation.
The benefits for Microsoft are obvious, as working with an already established software frees them up to focus on distributing their own solutions, such as Windows 10, while fixing problems MSN has with its ad system. In the same comScore rankings, it is revealed that MSN ad focus is seventh among internet users, while Taboola ranked at number two with 76% reach, only ranking behind Google. By partnering with an already successful software company, Microsoft saves itself time and money. And who knows? If the partnership works, it could give Alphabet a run for its advertising money: a.k.a. Google.
The death of the banner ad?
Both companies just got a huge boost in reaching new clientele, and furthering their reach in a competitive area. In a statement, Joe Cepollina, Universal Store Principal Program Manager Lead of Microsoft, said, “Through our relationship with Taboola, we have built a new pillar of scalable monetization while giving our audiences a more deeply immersive and personalized content experience.” This means that hopefully both the producers, in this case Microsoft, and the users will see the benefit in the form of more sales or in content that they are actually interested in, rather than random pieces or the top stories of the day.
Hopefully this is another nail in the coffin of random banner ads, one of the great annoyances of the internet. If so, it will surely be a joyous occasion to many MSN users.