Patrick Keane is CEO of Associated Content, an online publishing platform.
AdExchanger.com: Given AOL's recent positioning in the content creation space, where does Associated Content fit? And, is it odd having Tim Armstrong as an advisor and competitor?
PK: Tim remains an investor and friend of the company. I cannot comment about Tim or AOL's strategy but he has made a number of very public statements about the increasing importance of scalable and cost efficient content models. In my opinion we at Associated Content have the largest and most open content platform on the web. The web content ecosystem is large and diverse and will support multiple companies.
There has been a lot of talk about pay walls as a savior for newspapers and other online publications. Will Associated Content use a pay wall? Why not? And when do pay walls make sense?
First and foremost we are not a news site. We are an open content platform and news happens to be a genre that some portion of contributors choose to write. It is our feeling that 'open' is the model that wins on the Internet. Associated Content will continue to be an open, advertising supported content destination for the foreseeable future. Looking at my own personal patterns of interest and content consumption I can say there will likely continue to be a model for subscription supported content in finance, sports and very proprietary data driven verticals.
Can Associated Content replace newspapers? How might the two models work together?
It is not our mission to replace anyone. Our goal is publish the most useful content on the web. We, like newspapers, have a model for producing quality hyper local content, but our cost structure and content development ecosystem is very different. We are a great potential and existing partner to many news organizations and hope to continue to partner with these companies in the future.
Do you use ad networks? When do they make sense for the publisher? Are you ever concerned about channel conflict?
We do use ad networks and we are a large Google AdSense partner. We use networks in certain challenging areas of monetization like news and a few others. Networks can be helpful instantaneous revenue partners but as a former Googler and one who worked on AdSense, it has been interesting to sit on the other side of the table. We want to make certain we maintain ownership and control of our premium inventory maintain the appropriate controls to avoid channel conflicts. I want to ensure our premium inventory is sold by our sales organization.
In that 90% of your traffic comes from search, are you ever concerned about having a single point of failure, say, if Google turned off the traffic?
For content and commerce companies Google is the oxygen of the internet. We like others are very mindful of never doing anything to subvert the Google algorithm. We take a very user centric approach to everything we do at Associated Content and we make sure to follow all Google index guidelines.
How do you see yield optimization companies evolving on behalf of the
The feedback we consistently receive from our advertising partners is that advertising on Associated Content yields superior results. And to date, we have not seen appropriate value being placed against that superior performance opportunity by either ad networks or the various network optimization platforms. Also, from a strategic perspective I do not see yield optimization companies optimally serving publishers until publishers are willing to share their click data, RPM's, traffic sources, etc.
How do you manage "quality" in your content?
We have a multi step process incorporating human and algorithmic means to define content value and quality. We have an editorial staff that manually reviews content. We conduct a machine driven plagiarism check. And before we conduct these tests we do our best to make certain content is unique and useful. Quality is a subjective term and means different things to different people. Does quality equal only content created by Columbia trained journalists? We think quality can be defined by many parameters including writing expertise and well crafted linear narratives. But I can also say, I often times would rather read the authentic expertise of a mom who has unique first hand expertise on potty training toddlers versus a similar opinion from a scholarly professionally trained psychologist from Yale.