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A Better Way to Build Owned Audience

The problem with building an audience on a social network is that you don't really "own" that audience. And if you don't own the channel, it's hard to monetize.

Fortunately, there are solutions emerging which are rethinking how publishers attract new audiences and monetize their user base.

Content discovery platform Outbrain recently unveiled Sphere, for example, a rather innovative (or at least novel) new audience development/content reccomendation platform that hopes to bring a new source of revenue for digital publishers and reduce their reliance on social networks like Facebook. 

A key differentiator with Sphere is in the product economics and revenue model, as the system rewards engagement by financially incentivizing longer visits among the group (Outbrain will also charge a universal click fee as well). Via Sphere, Outbrain will be using an algorithm designed to help publishers achieve greater Lifetime Value (LTV) per user, encouraging deeper engagement with content reccomendations that by their nature are capable of driving higher-quality visits and increased page views.

Sphere is currently an "invitation-only" network of publishers but it includes some notable brands such as CNN, Meredith Corporation, Penske Media Corporation and Getty Images. Members of this "closed" group will be positioning editorial content from participating publishers and positioning it alongside their own editorial content. The idea here is really just that these publishers can find new audiences in a brand-safe environment (which, granted, can translate to more revenue and more long-term value when executed well) and avoid social networks like Facebook.

“We believe the future of publishing is a return to direct relationships between publishers and audience. Publishers need a better way to build owned audience growth, without relying on Facebook. With Sphere, we are paving a new path in the digital publisher business model to encourage high-quality content that delivers deeper engagement with users,” said Yaron Galai, Co-founder and CEO of Outbrain. “The Sphere experience takes into account the needs of both publishers and users, making it a necessary win-win for all parties.”

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