Publishers can no longer count on content-recommendation guaranteed revenue

In recent years, publishers have benefited from fat guarantees from content recommendation services like Outbrain and Taboola. But the good times are coming to an end, as both players, along with upstarts, move away from a land-grab phase in development.

Publishers have said either that the content recommendation companies themselves weren’t offering guaranteed payments anymore, or that the publishers themselves were opting for a revenue-share model where they’d be paid a share of the revenue when visitors click on a paid ad in the widget. One exec at a digital lifestyle publisher used to get a $1 million-plus guarantee a year and gave it up for a rev share with Taboola.

“When we looked at the stipulations, we decided we wanted flexibility on placement, and a guarantee doesn’t let you do that,” said the exec.

A senior executive at a different, midsize publishing company said that in recent negotiations, neither Outbrain nor Taboola offered a guarantee, instead offering to pay the publisher on a cost-per-click model.

“For publishers who are in it for the long haul, it’s the best to go with a revenue share,” another lifestyle publisher said. “It really puts us in the driver’s seat.”

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