In March of 2017, I had the pleasure of writing a letter to Taboola that celebrated our ten year anniversary. Almost exactly five years later, I have the privilege of writing a similar letter to celebrate the many publisher partners that have been with us for a decade.
2007 marked our founding, but the year 2012 was when this Taboola-shaped rocketship really took off. Those years are also when we first established relationships, and friendships, with many of the publishers who have been working with us for a decade or more.
It’s now been 10 years, and so many of our publisher partners have been with us since then, or renewed with us for 5 more years.
Journalism is super important and has become more important than ever as people are looking for a trusted source, a guide they can go to when so much is changing around us.
The main reason publishers consider working with us for a decade and more is because of our win/win culture. We listen and invest in things they care about. While money matters, it’s no longer enough, people want less vendors and more partners. That’s the company we set out to build years ago, to be the open web company, that is exclusively focused on what can make publishers successful, and what can help advertisers succeed outside of walled gardens on our publishers.
I started Taboola with a vision to build a recommendation engine for the open web, helping people discover things they may like but never knew existed, on some of the most incredible, editorial driven publishers in the world.
We’re now 1,800 Taboolars strong, operating in 22 countries to support our publishers on the ground. Our strategy was to partner with the entire publisher organization — revenue, editorial teams, audience growth teams, commerce teams and more, so together we can work to drive growth around the three key performance indicators (KPIs) publishers care about — revenue, engagement, and audience. We invest $100M a year in R&D to execute on that.
That strategy is hard because we need to do something most companies in the advertising space don’t usually do — and that is to go beyond advertising. It means building software that our publishers would enjoy, and go beyond “making revenue.”At the end of the day, publishers’ competition is not other publishers — it’s the walled gardens who are fighting for their users’ attention.
I’m super bullish on the open web, and publishers’ future. I wrote on CNBC about privacy dynamics, and how it can create a back-wind for publishers. “Context is queen,” no more “user tracking.”.
We recently launched Homepage For You as part of Newsroom, our editorial suite for writers and editors. This enables our publishers to bring the power of AI to every single homepage on the internet, and we’re already seeing growth of over 30%. I imagine the entire internet’s future to be driven by editorial voices, super charged with AI and data. That will be a big way to win audience attention from social companies, who have AI and data, but they don’t have a strong editorial voice.
With Connexity, now every one of our publishers can launch a NYTimes-Wirecutter strategy, and know what to write, how to connect with retailers, and make e-Commerce a third of the business.
With High Impact Placements, we’re able to bring brands agencies premium dollars to our publishers, now representing about 15% of our business.
I also look at the success of Apple Services and Eddy Cue who has done an incredible job making Apple more than just the device, and it gives me hope that if Apple thinks news should be on every device, every non Apple device in the open web will do the same. Every Android phone, every connected car, every audio device, every watch, every fridge — and Taboola will bring all our publishers partners to any single device out there. We call that business Taboola News.
I’ve been doing it for 14 years, and together with many of our publisher partners for 10 years. I feel we’re all just getting started.
People do business with people. I’m writing this letter today because so many of you — Axel Springer and Insider, NDTV, Future PLC, NBCUniversal, Siamsport, Weather Channel, Bloomberg, Gannett, Fox Local Television, Tribune Digital, DailyKos, Meredith TV, CBSi, Disqus (now Zeta), Cox Media Group, and more. The list goes on, and so many of you took a chance on us in our early days when there were just 30 Taboolars, and I just moved to America.
Here’s to the next 10 years together where we innovate, create and imagine an even stronger open web together.