Echobox, the online publishing industry’s artificial intelligence service has acquired $3.4 million dollars after closing its most recent round of funding, according to TechCrunch. The purpose of the start up service is developing technology that allows online publishers to share their content in a way that optimizes audience reach and page views.
“We will use our capital to innovate further and build an even better AI technology,” said Echobox founder and CEO Antoine Amann. “We’re also expanding our sales and marketing efforts to ensure more online publishers can benefit from our technology.”
There is a lot of room for innovation and profit in the service world of online publishing, esepcially for companies like Echobox. The shift from traditional advertising to digital marketing, particularly with an emphasis on organic content creation and influencers, has changed the way companies engage with social media. That transition was once considered a game-changing threat to the traditional publishing industry, with online publishing companies like Buzzfeed and Mashable enjoying tremendous success. But now, even those supposed vanguards of the online publishing world are facing new challenges.
Recently, popular sites have experienced a decrease in traffic as well as difficulty leveraging their online ads due to the widespread use of ad blockers. The New York Times has described a more recent change: the internet is moving away from being a place of websites and toward a place of social platforms and mobile apps. People are no longer accessing their news by navigating to a specific site. They are sharing content on social media and viewing content through mobile apps like Snapchat.
Addressing this problem presents ample opportunity for a start up service that can help online publishing companies capitalize on this shift. Echobox is advertising a potential solution for online publishing companies trying to figure out how to best use the social media and sharing platforms that are rapidly becoming the new normal.
The key concern for online publishing companies is figuring out how to get the most eyes on their content. With so much material available online, this is largely an issue of timing. Certainly good material plays a role, but if a killer article lands on the internet and there’s no one there to read it, was it published?
Liaising with social platforms has become so vital that online publishing companies are even obtaining the service of “publishing platform specialists” to help them connect with tools like Facebook Instant Articles and Snapchat Discover, according to the Wall Street Journal. Publishing companies like Condé Nast International are posting job openings for “platform relationship managers” who can coordinate with social media platforms and cultivate productive relationships. Clearly, the leading players are becoming increasingly aware that such platforms are vital to their longevity.
“It’s very much a people and relationships role. It’s the person who builds, maintains, and nurtures relationships with their counterparts at platforms,” Condé Nast International’s chief digital officer Wolfgang Blau told the Wall Street Journal. “The product changes of platforms happen on a daily basis. Just to track those changes and newly emerging platforms is a full-time job in itself.”
What was once a job that was handled by different players within an organization based on their individual connections, is now being streamlined into a more official position. Online publishing companies can now post their content straight to social sites like Facebook or LinkedIn, which allows them to find a more direct way to get their material in front of audiences.
But, understanding this shift is not as simple as cutting and pasting an article from the home site to a social media site. Publishing giants will need to understand what content works best for which platforms and keep an eye on what the next big app or platform will be.
Evidently, investors are aware of this emerging trend as well. The $3.4 million that Echobox received in this latest round of funding makes it clear that those who hold the money see the value in the artificial intelligence service that Echobox has to offer. Echobox has strategically capitalized on Facebook’s recent announcement of changes to its newsfeed. The social media giant’s newsfeed will now prioritize posts from friends and families as opposed to companies and media.
“Facebook puts a lot of effort in ensuring the best possible experience for its users, but it’s clear that changes to its newsfeed can be disruptive for media companies,” Echobox CEO Antoine Amann tells TechCrunch. “It’s one of the reasons why publishers are not well equipped to optimize content distribution online. It’s a massive and constantly evolving data science problem. This is where Echobox comes in.”
Echobox claims that its service helps publishing companies predict how viral their articles can be. If the service works as well as Echobox claims it does, it could mean big money for the promising start up.