This article was first published on The Times of Israel and was re-posted with permission.
For its third direct investment in Israeli technology – and its second in a month – Chinese internet giant Baidu has chosen Taboola, one of Israel’s biggest Internet exports and one of the best-known Israeli brands in the web world.
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Baidu invested a sum it referred to as “millions” in the tech firm, saying that the new partnership “brings together two cutting-edge technology companies that are re-defining the ‘search’ and ‘discovery’ categories across the world’s biggest markets. Together, Taboola and Baidu plan to bring discovery to the Chinese market, where mobile is the number one way people go online.”
“Though our roots are in China, Baidu actively seeks out innovative technology companies abroad to partner and invest with,” said Peter Fang, senior director of Corporate Development at Baidu. “Taboola’s remarkable vision and growth over the past few years captured the admiration of our executive team, and we’re very excited about the potential of the discovery market worldwide.”
Taboola is best-known for its “you may also be interested in” meme, which is ever-present on innumerable web content pages. The system is used to drive traffic from one site to another, or to keep readers on a site by offering them more of what they came for. Using advanced intelligence techniques based on hundreds of metrics – how long a reader stays on a site, how many times they visit one, which ads they linger on when viewing a site (e.g., how quickly they close pop-up windows), where they are located, and more – Taboola determines what content will be most interesting to a reader, and presents links that, site owners hope, will garner more clicks for a site or a network.
Taboola and another Israeli firm called Outbrain dominate the industry (officially known as “content discovery”), and the algorithms they have developed, as well as their vast experience, make them very attractive to investors for their ability to keep content perusers’ attention longer. Long rumored to be considering an IPO, Outbrain recently appointed former AVG Chief Technology Officer Yuval Ben-Itzhak as its CTO, a move analysts said was part of Outbrain’s preparation of an official big-name management layer that would make an IPO more palatable to investors.
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