Bring photographs to life with parallax

by Andy Howard on November 16, 2013

parallax The parallax effect, or 2.5D effect, turns a static shot into a multidimensional image. See how UK-based motion graphics artist and director Joe Fellows applies layering and movement to a static shot using Photoshop and After Effects. The technique was made popular in the film ‘The Kid Stays In The Picture’ [trailer].

Content recommendations from Outbrain

by Andy Howard on May 25, 2013


Outbrain is the leading content discovery platform on the web. It’s a trusted, high quality, spam-free platform for:

  • Advertisers to promote relevant content to interested audiences of high-quality publications, and
  • Publishers to monetise their publications by offering recommendations to high-quality third-party content on other sites.

For example, GE and Allstate both use Outbrain to promote their content across publications like Wall Street Journal, Reuters and CNN. Over 300 premium publishers are members of Outbrain’s network.

If you’ve seen a ‘From around the web’ list of links next to ‘Recommended’ links before, chance are you’re looking at an Outbrain publisher’s site and seeing links to promoted content from advertisers. Outbrain serves over 50 billion content recommendations every month and is installed on over 90,000 blogs and websites. While these metrics are great, it’s the quality of Outbrain’s advertiser and publisher network that impresses me. Content guidelines are strictly enforced, and earlier this year Outbrain banned some of its biggest customers to improve overall quality. In doing so, Outbrain expected to lose between 15% to 25% of revenue. Outbrain CEO Yaron Galai explained the ban to AdAge:

“At the end of the day we compete with anyone else that’s monetizing a publisher page,” Mr. Galai said. “Everyone else is based on squeezing as many cents out of the lemon. Our business is squeezing more trust out of the audience.”

In a board meeting, two out of four Outbrain investor board members “were absolutely against” the decision initially, he said, but in the end they agreed to back the move because he and his co-founder pushed hard.

“Our board meetings are usually a Kumbaya of everyone being cool with everything,” he said. “This was pretty rare; there was a big, big, big debate. It’s material. It means there’s a good likelihood we miss our numbers, and revenue share going to publishers gets hit as well.”

Fighting this hard for quality has earned my trust and respect. Outbrain is one of the few purportedly “native” advertising channels I feel is genuinely native. It’s relevant, in-stream and contextual, non-interruptive, maintains brand integrity and adds value. There’s nothing new about native advertising, but with the concept being discussed heavily at the moment it’s worth a mention – Outbrain is more native than most of the supposedly “native” channels being talked about. Facebook Sponsored Stories or Twitter Promoted Tweets aren’t native; they’re no less interruptive than others forms of advertising. Sure, they can work and have their place in the marketing mix, but in their current form they’re not “native”. IMHO anyway.

Many of the players in digital publishing claiming to be native wouldn’t pass the most basic sniff test. What they consider “native” is a new badge for the same old stuff. Outbrain, on the other hand, is helping define the native advertising standard.

Gravity personalises the web

by Andy Howard on February 2, 2013


For the last year, LA-based interest graph company Gravity has worked with publishers including The Wall Street Journal, CNN Money and TechCrunch to deliver customised content in real-time to each of their readers. Content is based on each reader’s individual preferences and currently over 200 million readers are receiving more than 25 million personalised content recommendations per day from Gravity (source).

Gravity’s results are pretty awesome. Partners are seeing greater than 200 percent increases in click-through rates, reader loyalty is up 300 percent (as measured by monthly return rate), and pageviews have increased in some cases by as much as 40 percent. As of yesterday, the Gravity personalisation API is now open to publishers to implement their own ‘interest graph’ and serve personalised content to readers, and advertisers now have the opportunity to serve highly targeted and relevant sponsored stories across the web.

This isn’t just another related content tool; it’s a whole new personalisation layer backed by $20.6 million in venture financing. Gravity is a powerful add-on for publishers and brands to serve highly targeted content based on readers’ proven interests. Last week at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer stated the interest graph would eventually replace the social graph. Looks like it’s already here.

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