Be it a news website, a technology portal, a gaming how-to, or some random company’s side blog, the bane of content publishing is trying to 1) get readers to check out the other things you or your team or your clients have written. At the same time, especially for news organizations, 2) giving background information on a certain story and 3) providing flowing visuals can drag out the amount of time it takes to publish a good article.
TLine has a simple and yet elegant solution to all three of those challenges. They have built an embedded timeline feature where websites can show the development of certain or related stories, offering readers the clean opportunity to click on more visible internal links on the website.
Founded in 2015 as Crayze Media, they had a more general focus on adtech and e-commerce before stumbling upon the timeline idea. They had been looking to develop an app for flash deals (or “ephemeral deals”) and then customized native ads before the pivot that came from a eureka moment during a strategy meeting.
“Three months ago we stopped, wrote everything on the board as a timeline, then saw it as a good way to present a timeline,” Founder and CEO Avishay Ovadia tells Geektime. “It began as a side project but now it’s a whole platform, like Playbuzz or Outbrain.”
Those names are not just random internet players. The timelines TLine creates have the potential to better direct traffic to other links — often within your own website — better than Outbrain or Taboola’s bottom-of-the-page “you might also like” section.
As you can see here, it serves as an interactive visual and highlight reel (more on that in a moment). For anyone who is bereft the opportunity or budget to create a nifty and useful infographic, the headache is alleviated with a very simple embedded feature that allows clicks on key points in the timeline (back to your own website or to another) and has some visual customization with its theme color, main logo and a main cover image.
The format paints a much clearer picture of background info for a given article. For news websites looking for ways to make internal links pop out at readers, this has the potential to go a long way. An image, a date, and a reiterated title make references to old events relevant to a current article on self-driving cars a little more obvious. It also does not force a readers to click a link about Lyft’s $1 billion funding round while in the midst of trying to complete reading a sentence.
Ovadia says publishers like Geektime will be able to use the service for free into perpetuity. The “big money” comes from getting sponsored timelines onto certain publishers’ websites.
“The advertiser creates a timeline, or we create one for them (custom pricing),” Ovadia explains. “Then the advertiser’s timeline will appear as a sponsored timeline inside various publishers’ articles. The pricing is based on user engagement with the timeline.”
Every campaign has to have a minimum budget of $100, with each user engagement (click) priced between $.50 and $1 and last at least 10 seconds. In Israel their timelines have appeared in articles by Haaretz, Channel 1 (Israel), and The Times of Israel. In the states, they are already running pilots with ESPN.
All in all, they reported having 500 timelines appearing on major publisher and branded sites worldwide when they came out of stealth about a month ago.
It is also no surprise to see Jerusalem startups come up with a new idea for content marketing. The city is a hotbed of digital marketing and SEO companies with hubs like the JVP Media Quarter helping to lift Jerusalem’s number of startups above 500.
They hope to release new features in the near future that include building timelines for ongoing events, breaking news, automatically aggregating content into your websites in real time for interactive timelines, and a version applicable for Wikipedia articles.
For now they are focused on their home market of Israel and media opportunities present in the United States. Future plans include a plugin feature for WordPress that will add new articles to timelines based on tags. Those fea
“It’s in our pipeline. For WordPress it will be a feature that when you post your content it will automatically create your timeline,” says Ovadia, adding that you can select multiple tags — like “autonomous vehicles” and “self-driving cars” — to add to the same timeline.
They have raised half a million dollars from the likes of Jumpspeed Ventures (Ben Wiener), Parnassa VC, and other angel investors. They have five employees based at their headquarters in Jerusalem.