February 16, 2018

New from Discovery’s Outbrain, it’s “Sphere”


As much as we’d like to believe technology can anticipate and cater to our needs, there’s still a long way to go — particularly when you’re sifting through worthless related content on a publisher’s website. Outbrain is trying to change that.

According to Jonathan Shieber at TechCrunch, the network discovery platform that provides most websites with the “related content” (a mess of bizarre and totally un-related content, tbh), familiar from the bottom of many a computer screen, is hoping to perfect their game with a new, publisher-to-publisher product called “Sphere.”

Sphere is still in its early stages and its recommendation algorithms are only offered to publishers at the premium level — i.e. those who pay for it. The idea is that readers of some of those publishers—Shieber names a few, like CNN, Getty, and Time—would offer their readers links to related content from these other websites that pay for the shout-out.

It seems odd that publishers would be keen to work together, especially in an age where technology makes it so easy (and free) to consume as much content as possible… but nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! Facebook, I mean Facebook.

Shieber writes it more clearly: “All this is to drive more engagement with users and steer them away from the advertising vacuums known as Facebook and Google.”



Alex Primiani is the associate director of publicity at Melville House.