RevContent might not be a name that’s familiar to you; not yet at least. But the Florida-based business is one of the fastest growing native-advertising and content recommendation platforms in the world and it has big plans.

The relative newcomer to the content marketing space currently delivers 100 billion content recommendations every month, but is targeting 200 billion a month over the next six months. “Our goal is to be the largest content recommendation platform in the world within the next 24 months,” says CEO John Lemp.

Lemp is no stranger to rapid corporate growth: His previous business, affiliate network Clickbooth, was one of the fastest growing businesses in America according to Inc.  Magazine. “Clickbooth was the fastest growing advertising and marketing business three years in a row according to Inc.  RevContent is growing faster,” he says.

Premium partnerships

Lemp believes one of the secrets behind Clickbooth’s growth was a focus on premium partnerships: “We always tried to work with the best,” he says. And this is an approach he’s continued with RevContent where the client list includes NBC News, Yahoo and Match.com and the firm’s engagement team looks for at least 45 million visits a month and good user experience from potential partners.

Working with premium partners requires discipline, “We have to turn down business,” Lemp explains. ”We’ll never work with 80,000 ‘Joe Schmoe’ blogs. We want to work with premium businesses.” It also brings a higher demand for performance, but he is happy with that. “We want to be challenged by our partners, we’ll challenge them to be better too.”

In the content recommendation arena, Lemp says there is a big focus on exclusive agreements with publishing partners. “This is unfair to publishers; I don’t agree with it. We have exclusive agreements, but we don’t push anyone into them. We want to work with people who want to work with us.”

Lemp asks, “If RevContent is not the best possible partner, with the largest RPMs (Revenue Per 1,000 Impressions), why would I strangle your business?” He explains that RevContent asks publishers to test the business against the competition, citing RPMs as high as $40 as evidence of stronger performance. “We’re easily doing two times better than the competition, double the revenues,” he says.

Putting tech at the heart

Serial entrepreneur Lemp puts success down to a number of factors. First, as a self-confessed IT lover, he sets technology at the heart of the enterprise. RevContent’s tech platform began life at Clickbooth, with development starting about four and a half years ago. “I love technology and our technology is one of a kind. We use machine learning, social learning, data analysis of all kinds, there are so many variables to factor into performance,” he explains.

But he is quick to add that understanding audience behaviours has a huge part to play in success, saying that a lot of people miss that focus on user experience. “We also factor in the human element, we do eye-tracking for example, we look at how people are interacting with sites. With content we allow the reader to respond. We like to give the consumer a voice,” he says.

In content recommendation, context is important, but Lemp thinks the real secret is to find what the user wants to do next, to give them the next step in their content journey, whether that is content recirculation within a site or an ad that they click on. “Nobody’s perfect”, he says “We’re just learning, but that’s what’s so exciting about this space. There’s so much opportunity to continue growing.”

Growth means competition, but Lemp isn’t worried. He says Google did a SWOT analysis of the market, and when a customer sent him a copy of the survey, RevContent was in the top four. “This is the one opportunity in the last 100 years in media that’s not controlled by the big players. They’ll come into the content recommendation space at some point, but that’s exciting,” he says.

Mutual growth is important to Lemp, based on strong partner relationships with publishers, and effective monetisation. “Partner growth fuels our growth and they judge us on performance, that’s RPMs of two to three times bigger than the closest guy out there,” he explains.

One of the earliest lessons he learned, while building websites in college ‘back in the day’, was that he could get traffic, but that there was no one to buy it. “I went off and learned about marketing and figured out it really comes down to monetisation,” he says.

These days, Lemp is evangelical about his efforts to support publishers in the development of alternative revenue streams around native advertising and content recommendation space. “This is the market that will save publishing,” he explains. “If we can squeeze higher RPMs, they can hire more writers and keep everything open and free.”

Image courtesy of Epsos via Flickr used under a Creative Commons license.