Content Discovery: a Simple, Powerful Definition

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One of the biggest questions we hear at Taboola is how our platform is different from PPC on search and display networks. I’ve found that there’s a very simple way to approach this topic:

It’s all about discovery.

On search, for instance, audiences are typically looking for something in particular. By advertising through Google AdWords, you’re generally positioning your company to provide a very specific answer to a question. By advertising through display, you’re likely delivering a healthy dose of product-related messaging.

When it comes to Taboola, however, none of these dynamics apply. Audiences are likely in-the-moment, looking to discover great content, new topics, and sources of entertainment.  As a result, there is a strong opportunity for brands that are looking to build long-term relationships with new and existing customers, regardless of whether you’re promoting top-of-the-funnel branded content that builds relationships, or performance campaigns that drive to conversions.

Here’s how to make the most of the opportunity.

Examine your own habits

If you want to get inside the mind your audience, start with your own web browsing habits. We can start in your living room. Or in your office. Or waiting in line at your neighborhood coffee shop.

  • It’s 8:45am and you’re waiting for your morning caffeine fix. The line is long, and you decide to check the closing stock market numbers from yesterday.
  • It’s 2pm on a Friday. You just came back from your lunch break, and you’re not quite up to tackling your inbox yet. You decide to quickly check your go-to news site.
  • It’s 9pm. You’ve had a long day. You’ve got your laptop, or tablet, or smartphone out, and you’re on the couch. Maybe the TV is on in the background. You open up a browser window, and type in your favorite website.

Wherever you are, let’s say that you’ve finished reading the article, or watching the video that you started with. Just as you’re deciding where to go next, you catch a link to another article that seems interesting to you. You click on it. You read it. You see another article promoted on that page that looks intriguing, you click on that.

Understand intent

What can we learn about our audiences, based on the behaviors described in step 1? Basically, 2 things:

  1. Your audiences aren’t goal-oriented: they don’t have a clear intent
  2. Your audiences are willing to engage

The latter is clear. Audiences are in a state of mind where they want to read what you have written. They’re consuming, they’re discovering, they’re interested. They’re in what we call “Content Consumption Mode”.

Let’s address the former: audience intent. Because that’s precisely where content discovery truly stands out from the crowd.

If you intend to, say, buy a lamp online, what is the first thing you do? You open up a search window and type in “best discount lamps” (assuming you’re looking for a bargain).

Say you’re an online lamp retailer. You can probably assume that audiences who reach you from this search query are clearly intending on buying a lamp, and very clearly know that they have reached a site that sells lamps.

But say you’re that same lamp retailer, and you’re promoting the content: “How to Find the Perfect Lamp for Your Home Office” on Taboola’s network.

Audiences click on this link because they find it interesting. They may be considering redecorating their office. They may be looking for a Mother’s Day gift. They may just happen to like looking at lamps.

In short: Your audience wants to read an article about finding the perfect lamp. Do they want to buy a lamp? Well, perhaps they will by the time they finish the article. But when they first encounter your page: all they want to do is learn as much as they can about finding that perfect lamp. Or in other words, they’re engaging with the content that they clicked.

Remember your goal, and take audiences along for the ride

Now you know: you have audiences who want to learn, and who are ready and willing to engage. You also have audiences who don’t have clear goals in mind.

This means that you have the rarest of opportunities – you create the goal for them.

Imagine you’re standing at a ticket counter at your local multiplex, utterly bewildered by the amount of movies to choose from. If the theater manager walks by and says to you: “Try the new one starring Denzel, it’s pretty great.” How likely are you to watch that movie?

There’s a voice of authority right in front of you. Someone who’s probably seen every movie in that multiplex, perhaps several times over. If they think the one with Denzel is the best, they’re probably right.

And aren’t you relieved you don’t have to stare at that long list of movies anymore?

With content discovery, you can become that voice of authority. You have the ability to give your user a goal where there wasn’t one before.

That is the power of content discovery. Rather than waiting for intent, you can create it.

You can use your newfound mind-reading powers to guide audiences through a predetermined path. And if your content is good, your audiences will gladly enjoy the ride.

Key takeaways

Wondering where to start? Here are simple yet high-impact three action items to prioritize:

  1. Figure out how to capture your audience’s attention when they’re casually browsing. Talk to your customers and audience to learn what messaging they find most compelling.
  2. Similar to #1, figure out the messaging that you need to keep your audiences engaged.
  3. They are not goal oriented, so if you’d like them to complete an action, ease them into it gradually.

If you keep these three points in mind when building a content strategy, you’ll be well on your way to connecting with an audience that may not have found you otherwise.

Interested in learning more about how your team can engage audiences around the web through content?  Contact one of Taboola’s strategists today.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock/Peshkova

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