For many publishers, social media has become a double edged sword: People can share content and bring in new readers and viewers but engagement and discussion also end up outside of the publisher’s page. However, publishers can still build thriving communities of people who watch, read, share and discuss their content if they take back ownership of their audiences. Spot.IM empowers publishers to do just that by providing the tools they need to curate their communities’ social interactions, encouraging organic site engagement. Spot.IM works with premium publishers including Meredith Corporation, Time Inc. and News Corp. We spoke with Dor Herskovich, Spot.IM’s Director of Monetization to learn more about the company.
For those who aren’t familiar, can you give you a brief overview of what Spot.IM does?
Spot.IM is an engagement platform designed to help publishers grow, retain, and leverage their users. We work with some of the most important publishers from around the world, providing a holistic suite of products that provides an answer to one of the most fundamental questions dominating the industry today: How can publishers compete for users’ attention in a digital world dominated by aggregators and social networks like Google and Facebook?
Spot.IM’s products, when taken together, offer publishers the ability to build online communities around their content. We have seen some pretty incredible results from our partners, especially with regards to our newest product – the Community Page. It is all about offering a place for a publisher’s audience to connect with the content and with one another.
What does Spot.IM offer to publishers that they can’t create themselves in-house?
Publishers are incredible at a lot of different things, producing compelling content that people want to click on and read being first and foremost among them. However, product design, specifically social product design, is generally not their core competency. That’s why they’ve struggled to win their users back from the so-called “tech giants” like Facebook, Google and Twitter. The tech giants are masters at creating products that people love to use.
That’s why Spot.IM has proven so valuable to these publishers. Like Facebook, Google, and Twitter, we are masters at product. The biggest difference between us and them is that we are, and always will be, a publisher-first company. It has been our mission from day one to not just help publishers survive, but to help them win. We do that by creating beautiful, engaging products they wouldn’t otherwise have the resources to develop in-house.
How does video factor into Spot.IM’s offering?
Video advertising plays a critical role in our offering to publishers. With our technology, publishers can expand their video supply by incorporating in-stream and out-stream video units in a high-engagement area of their page that was previously under-utilized.
Publishers have full control over the size of the units, if it’s pre-roll or mid-roll, and other important factors that impact the user experience. The way we approach video is also attractive to buyers because they are able to advertise to the most engaged users.
Spot.IM’s Live Blogging feature is really interesting – can you tell us a little more about that and what the response has been from publishers who use it?
Our Live Blogging feature is one of the most popular products we’ve ever released. On a basic level, it’s the most simple solution on the market for a publisher’s editorial team to cover events in real time on their own websites. Unlike the usual CMS-based solutions, editors don’t need to sit in the newsroom on their laptops to cover their events – they can easily do so on their phone while attending an event or on the road. Our Live Blogging feature publishes each update on the publisher’s site instantly, and includes an added social element where users can interact with the posts in real-time. In short, our Live Blogging feature allows publishers to host a mini Twitter-feed within their own site and with their own branding.
By bringing user engagement directly to publisher sites, there’s a risk that comes with user-generated content. How do you ensure UGC is brand-safe for both publishers and advertisers?
We take brand safety extremely seriously. When we first entered the market with our commenting platform, we found that publisher anxieties from years of troll-filled comment sections had soured a great deal of them on user-generated content. But as sites like Facebook and Twitter have shown, user-generated content (and user engagement in general) is one of the most valuable commodities on the web today. Publishers were missing out on an enormous opportunity by simply turning their backs on it.
It was immediately clear that in order to succeed we would need to offer an iron-clad, trustworthy solution to this obvious problem. In order to keep UGC brand-safe for both publishers and advertisers, we employ several layers of moderation APIs, as well as several of our own machine-learning algorithms. On top of that, we also employ a small but highly effective task-force of moderators to ensure content is appropriate and brand-safe. The result is an engagement platform that has allowed publishers like AOL and Fox News to drastically reduce or even eliminate resources devoted to moderation.