Microsoft has plenty of internal resources devoted to personalization, but it’s also experimenting with Taboola’s full-page personalization features. Different sections, like news, entertainment or sports, will move higher or lower on the page depending on how a user engages with that content. And someone that likes specific types of content – like video – will see more of it.
Microsoft runs 50 A/B tests concurrently to test performance on MSN.com. That will help it improve how it deploys Taboola’s technology. Its ultimate metric for success with this deal, though, isn’t monetization.
“We believe the real test for us is audience,” Cepollina said. “Can we grow audience more organically? Can we make sure the audience is engaged, measuring that not just in pageview counts but in how much time they’re spending with us?” Improving metrics in those areas will validate Microsoft’s steps to breathe life into an aging portal.