Israeli Content Recommendation Giant Taboola Aims to Compete With Facebook Newsfeed

Taboola Feed to contain teasers similar to those on Facebook, and come in place of the rectangle of recommended articles that many websites offer through Taboola and its competitors

Content recommendation company Taboola is releasing a new product, Taboola Feed, designed to compete with Facebook’s newsfeed.

Taboola Feed will contain teasers similar to those on Facebook and Instagram, and come in place of the rectangle of recommended articles that many websites offer through Taboola and its competitors.

Adam Singolda, founder and CEO of Taboola, told TheMarker that the move was a direct challenge to Facebook. “Facebook scares content sites,” he said.

The new product will let users continue strolling after the end of an article, and find recommended content including articles, videos, ads, apps and more.

Taboola is a privately held company valued at an estimated $1 billion. It reaches more than 1 billion users a month, and supplies more than 15 billion recommendations a day. Over the past few years, it carried out several acquisitions. A year ago, it acquired ConvertMedia, which took part in developing Taboola Feed.

ConvertMedia developed a product named Out Stream, which enabled the playing of videos in news feeds. Taboola Feed will incorporate this technology, and videos in it will start playing automatically as users scroll past them.

“The most ingenious thing that Facebook did was releasing its newsfeed,” said Singolda.

His new product is aimed at offering a service that primarily exists on social network sites at the moment, he said.

“When Facebook was founded, all the content was divided up under menus. They were similar to any other content site. Over the years, Facebook kept adding options within the feed, and all users needed to do was scroll down – and the experience maintained its quality.”

Table will operate the content mechanism that appears in Taboola Feed, while the website customers will decide what content appears there – be it from their own site, external content or advertisements. It will also integrate content such as comments and the weather forecast. It will offer a service similar to Google Play or Apple’s App Store that will let websites choose the content delivery they want.

The business model remains the same – Taboola’s profits are based on users clicking sponsored content and ads.

In January, Taboola acquired Commerce Sciences, a company developing technology that learns website users’ behavior and adapts a website’s content accordingly, for instance by changing the interface – adding, removing or relocating elements such as banners and buttons.

Until now, Taboola’s main competitor was content recommendation company Outbrain, which offers a similar product. Taboola’s new product is an indication that the company is expanding into new fields. One of its goals is to enable content websites to bring users back from Facebook, as users become accustomed to finding news and content through Facebook as opposed to the websites where they were originally published.

“We have to rethink the mobile experience so that users will want to stay on a site for 30 minutes, instead of 30 seconds,” stated Singolda.

This is a long-term strategy for the next five to 10 years, enabling users to scroll indefinitely on any website, he stated.

In response to criticism that Taboola was suggesting problematic content, Singolda said that the company now employs more than 30 employees responsible for rejecting inappropriate content.

“I think we’re doing good work,” he said. “Someone has seen and approved every website that appears under Taboola’s recommendations.”