6 myths about content recommendation networks

April 5, 2016


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Content recommendation networks are nearly everywhere, from major news websites to the smallest, most personal of blogs. The reason for their ubiquity is clear ― network service providers pay well for their placement ― but the matter of their efficacy is less obvious.

Among content marketing experts, the service is controversial: some marketers rant and rave about the possibilities for spreading awareness far and wide, while others thumb their noses, listing well-known negatives of content recommendation.

However, plenty of these often-recited undesirable features are no more than myths. Here are six of the most common fables regarding content recommendation networks ― and why any content marketer should be clamoring to sign up for this abundantly useful service.

Myth #1: It Takes Away From Reader Experience

This myth seems to confuse old-fashioned banner ads with content recommendations. There is no dispute that traditional online advertisements were distracting at best and disruptive at worst; when advertisers use tactics like sound and flashing colors to attract attention, everyone suffers.

However, content recommendations are not the same as advertisements. Though they are sponsored links to content ― admittedly, usually content created to sell products ― most clients of content recommendation networks are not hoping to trick any and all readers into visiting their sites. Instead, content recommendation networks target only those readers who already have an interest in particular topics. When properly placed in the sidebar or at the base of an article, content recommendations blend seamlessly into a site’s established content and provide benefits to everyone.

Myth #2: The Content Quality Is Poor

Some content recommendation networks include clickbait that ultimately leads to spammy sites. However, other networks closely monitor the quality of their clients’ assets, providing links only to valuable, trustworthy content. Assuming that all content recommendation networks are inferior and deceitful is akin to assuming the Internet offers no reliable sources of news because BuzzFeed exists. Though it may take some research, it isn’t difficult to find a content recommendation network that adheres to high standards.

Myth #3: The Extra Income Isn’t Sufficient

Money is the reason content recommendation networks are good for clients and publishers: Clients see a boost in sales due to an increased (and diversified) audience, and publishers receive kickbacks for placing network links around their sites. If the money coming in is not enough to continue wasting time and space on the sponsored links, the client or the publisher needs to find a new network.

As mentioned before, content recommendation networks are incredibly varied; just because one does not provide the services a business or website needs doesn’t mean none of them do. It is worth the effort to research potential networks to find one that makes the best fit.

Myth #4: Outside Content Dilutes the Brand

Publishers in particular often fear that adding links to others’ content will confuse readers with conflicting messages regarding the site’s style. Ideally, every website boasts a unique Web experience that a certain audience of users clamors for, and using a second-party recommendation network might indicate to readers a disinterest in maintaining that exclusive feel.

Yet, it is SEO basics that links are perhaps the most important tools for increasing visibility. Websites that contain a number of inbound and outbound links have a better chance of seeing a bump in search engine results, and taking advantage of the numerous links within content recommendation networks is an easy and profitable way to establish an Internet presence that search engine spiders will notice.

Myth #5: Home-Grown Versions Are More Valuable

The same websites that believe in the negative influence of outside content may also mistakenly believe that it is possible to build one’s own personal content recommendation network. Indeed, websites like Mic and Daily Dot work tirelessly to cultivate relationships with like-minded Web brands, such as Rolling Stone or Cole Hann, and provide links only to those partners whom they can trust. While this may be effective for major sites like those mentioned, few publishers and clients have the time and resources to develop their own recommendation networks, making pre-generated networks a much more preferable way to gain visibility online.

Myth #6: The Widgets Weaken Site Security

Most content recommendation networks provide widgets that install easily into most website frameworks, making the process of joining the network incredibly simple. Yet, some publishers look sidelong at the widgets, considering them major security risks. Though it is wise to be safety-conscious in an age when security tech is barely a step ahead of malicious hackers, there is absolutely no evidence that content recommendation widgets compromise a site’s integrity. Clients, publishers, and readers have nothing to fear from the easy-to-use widgets, which provide all Web users with seemingly unlimited value.

Rachel Reese is a blogger and avid lover of all things technology. She specializes in writing about networking and data security.


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