Q: Why was Kontera founded?
A: We saw a very clear market opportunity for relevant advertising in the text since that is where users spend 85% of their time. With the success that contextual advertising was having ‘outside of the text’ (if you will), we saw the opportunity to add value to publishers, advertisers and users, in the text as an additive revenue stream and an informational experience.
Q: How has reception to Kontera and the concept of In-Text Advertising changed since the company launched?
A: The reception has been strong for Kontera because we produce the most relevant results and products for publishers, advertisers and users. When we first launched we felt the natural hesitation of publishers that comes with any new online Ad unit, and there are still some publishers who are deciding upon the timing of utilizing “in-text”. Overall, though, our network is doing over 100 Million unique users now and growing at 100% per year, so the adoption is happening rapidly.
Q: Can you compare and contrast contextual and behavioral targeting?
A: Contextual in Kontera’s case is about having a deep, semantics-based understanding of the page and then picking the topics and keywords that best match what the user’s CURRENT intent is on the page using both historical and predictive techniques. Behavioral targeting is about trying to understand a user’s intent through PAST click stream behavior and serving relevant ads to users regardless of the type of content that they are on currently. Ultimately I think we will add behavioral as another variable into our decision making algorithms with the goal of providing additional targeting options, and to improve the overall effectiveness of our offerings.
Q: Would you describe Kontera as a technology company OR a marketing company?
A: We are a technology company at heart, with 50 engineers in Israel focused on solving the in-text conundrums algorithmically, but we are quickly being seen as Media company with great performance based technology, both from a brand and a direct marketing perspective. This is exactly how we want to be positioned at the end of the day. Our technology and our approach will always be the key to our success and it’s why we are able to perform for all constituents involved –publishers, advertisers and users.
Q: With more than 300 ad networks out there, how do you add value to advertisers? Publishers?
A: That’s a good question. Considering the economic situation we’re in now, more advertising dollars will be pushed towards performance-based vehicles. As it relates to advertisers, what differentiates us from other ad networks is that we are a Cost-Per-Click based platform which means that they only pay for performance. In addition, we convert well for advertisers once users do click on an ad. For publishers, we provide a very strong additive eCPM to the overall page, as well as a solid user experience because we choose the most relevant keywords and ads at the most relevant and opportune time.
Q: Is the balance of power shifting between ad networks, publishers and advertisers? If so, how?
A: It ebbs and flows, but for the most part, I think the power base and the relationship amongst the players is relatively the same. I don’t think we’re going to see dramatic shifts in these relationships. All constituents covet great content, which is why the balance can’t shift too much from my perspective.
Q: Kontera was founded at the end of the last online advertising downturn. How has that experience prepared you for the current downturn?
A: Well, we learned a lot of lessons, and our culture is too run a tight ship and be smart about how we focus our energies, both from a product and business perspective. We are well aware that cash and profitability are king, regardless of how strong the macro economy is, so we make sure to have cash in the coffers and to execute vigorously with profitable growth as our focus of course.
Q: How do you teach a computer to understand content and then serve ‘contextually relevant advertising’?
A: This truly requires a very detailed discussion of course. However, from a high level, true relevancy is accomplished through years of experience analyzing Billions of pages and having self-learning and yield optimization techniques on the back-end that take advantage of this historical data. There must also be a deep and dynamic page-level and keyword-level taxonomy, so that once the analysis of a page is complete, including sentiment and tonal understanding, the relevant keywords on a page can be extracted and matched to the most relevant ads and/or information and continually optimized by the self-learning and performance-based systems.
Q: How significant is your business with social media publishers?
A: Very significant and probably the fastest growing from a numbers perspective because we have made the tagging process incredibly easy. Publishers can implement Kontera in minutes by adding six lines of Java code to the footer of its pages. We also read content in real time, so as the topics change so does the ads and information that we match against the keywords and topics. This approach becomes particularly important with social media based content, which incessantly changes topic and direction. It’s important to note that many of our large publishers and prospects are adding elements of social media to their sites as well, including comments, blogs, user reviews and more. It is necessary to enable them to address their spectrum of needs, and the flexibility and scalability of our technology allows us to do this.
Q: What’s in the future for Kontera?
A: Becoming not only the largest and most productive in-text provider, but also to be known in the market as a “next generation contextual analysis platform” leader. This simply means semantically understanding a page better than anybody else, and serving the most relevant ads and information anywhere on a web page based on the publisher’s goals and objectives. Assuming we can deliver on this promise, it becomes an all-inclusive offering that will provide the greatest contextual relevancy, return and experience for publishers, advertisers and users alike.