Deals

Outbrain acquires Visual Revenue, combining content discovery with editorial analysis

In a surprisingly fitting union, New York City-based Outbrain, purveyor of most of those link recommendations you see underneath blog posts, has acquired Visual Revenue, a company that offers tools for editors to analyze the performance of their content.

We’ve used both services here at VentureBeat, and while we’ve had issues with the quality of Outbrain’s recommendations, Visual Revenue’s technology has proven extremely useful. (To be fair, the Taboola recommendations below this post aren’t much better.) Editors use Visual Revenue to test the performance of different headlines as well as how different stories perform based on their site placement.

Visual Revenue’s platform now has over 250 media properties, including The Atlantic, Le Monde, and NBC Universal, as customers, and around 2,000 editors use it regularly. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

“For now we’re definitely keeping the two services separate,” said Outbrain chief executive Yaron Galai in an interview with VentureBeat. “Each one of the services fits well into the different sides of the publishing business, for now we’re keeping it that way and making it crisp and clear.”

In a blog post this morning, Galai said the deal will “offer publishers an unparalleled end-to-end solution for optimizing all of their content pages across any channel, screen size, and device, with both automated and editorially controlled solutions.”

The deal has been in the works over the past two months, Galai said, though Outbrain has been aware of Visual Revenue’s technology for some time now.

When I prodded him about the potential issues some publishers have around Outbrain’s recommendations, Galai was quick to note, “Publishers generally love us. There are issues — there are always issues — but I think we have a fantastic reputation with publishers.

“Since the day we started Outbrain, we said that we’re not about related links; we’re interested in interesting and trustworthy links. The focus makes the algorithm seem a bit random. Editors aren’t familiar with that and are disappointed by the relevancy.”

While having relevant content is extremely important for something like web search, when it comes to recommending content, Galai believes it doesn’t matter as much in the world of discovery. Instead, Outbrain’s algorithm is more focused on finding stories that you didn’t even know you wanted to read, without an editorial hand leading the way.

Outbrain has raised $64 million so far from Index Ventures, Lightspeed Ventures, Carmel Ventures, and others. Visual Revenue, which is also based in NYC, has raised more than $2 million from IA Ventures, Softbank, Lerer Ventures, and others.

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