Back in April, Revcontent CEO John Lemp said his goal was to be the largest content-recommendation platform in the world within the next 24 months. It looks like he’s revising his timescale:
“We blew by 100 billion recommendations a month a couple of months ago and have a $200 million run rate that is increasing quickly. I think we might be looking at 12 months”.
Regardless of when Lemp’s Florida-based business actually reaches the number one spot, it is firmly in the top flight of native-advertising and content recommendation platforms, having grown by a stellar 900 percent over the last year.
“There are only three native ad networks that can generate these massive numbers,” Lemp says. “Considering that the other two platforms – Taboola and Outbrain – were founded several years before us, it’s pretty impressive.”
He puts the company’s growth down to a simple performance-based customer recruitment strategy, superior technology and a network of publishers and advertisers focused on quality.
Lemp says Revcontent’s ideal prospects are switched on publishing execs:
“Our target market is the CMOs and the Heads of Digital, the smart ones. We prefer customers that have been in the marketfor a couple of years; they’re data driven and we know if we can get them to run split tests they’ll see that we can deliver better performance.”
Lemp explains that split testing lies at the heart of his efforts to bring on new partners and believes much of the company’s recent revenue growth is being won away from the competition. “We’ve seen split testing by major publishers, they’re getting short changed. We’ve added about $100 million in revenue, mainly from competitors.”
Tech underpinning performance
Technology innovation underpins Revcontent’s performance:
“We understand how to maximise traffic to the page. Also, we can move quickly, faster than our competition. Taboola and Outbrain do some cool stuff, but they are slower to learn from the market.”
Revcontent recently released v2 of it’s platform featuring its Widget Optimiser, allowing partners to add or remove specific widgets with an unrivalled level of granular targeting and blacklisting. “This is an industry first,” says Lemp. “It allows publishers to create a more engaging user experience, get higher CTRs, longer sessions, and increased revenue.”
Lemp admits that not every innovation is a roaring success:
“We were probably first with a widget for infinite scroll pages, but that didn’t work so well. We’re always experimenting with technology though; you have to try different things.”
To keep the company’s technology at the leading edge, Revcontent recently brought Rick Landsman on board as Chief Technology Officer. Landsman is an advertising systems pioneer with more than a dozen patents to his name. “He’s a brilliant guy,” says Lemp. “He has patents for advertising delivery systems, but also for stuff like mobile device fingerprinting.”
Lemp places the quality of the Revcontent network at the heart of recent growth. His philosophy has been to work with the best publishers, but he’s also aware that the quality of content being delivered through the network matters too.
“We were one of the first networks to allow consumers to vote on the quality of ads,” he says. “We also allow publishers to adjust their restrictions in real time.”
Revcontent has network-wide content restrictions in place, reviewing about 90,000 ads a year across the network. But Lemp explains that every publisher determines quality differently, and needs to be able to be the guardian of quality for its own audience:
“A vegan website isn’t going to want meat products advertising. Someone else might not like auto insurance ads. It’s up to them to decide what might upset the audience.”
Revcontent’s rapid growth is reflected in its expanding office network. It opened a New York City office in May and plans for a Los Angeles office are well underway. Internationally, Lemp is eyeing offices in Tel Aviv and London. “We’re looking at key strategic acquisitions, to acquire two or three smaller regional competitors or to have strategic relationships.”
Lemp says, at the end of the day, Revcontent’s success is all about performance.
“I have a good friend who was happy with Taboola on RPMs of $1.25. He went live on our network with the same restrictions and got $8. If I was him, the first thing I would ask is how is that possible?
Well, we don’t make big margins, our technology is better and we are not diluting traffic with garbage clicks.”