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Will Kenton, of Taboola, on the future of content & content partnerships in the age of AI

Will Kenton is Editor-in-Chief at Taboola, a company best known as a native advertising pioneer. Will heads up Taboola’s turnkey division for publishers, which produces content for partner websites, leveraging SEO and technology expertise to drive traffic and affiliate revenue.

As Will observes, many traditional publishers are now opting to this new affiliate model, which has proven more lucrative than relying on banner ads, and whose revenue can be used to replace traditional revenue sources such as classified ads which formerly funded journalism. Publisher partners now include Time Inc., the AP, NBC News, McClatchy, and many more. Taboola’s stated goal is to become the “partner of choice, or rather “Advertising in a box” to many great companies.”

I wanted to catch up with Will to discuss Taboola’s turnkey division, how it works, why it’s helpful for many traditional publishers, and talk about issues related to content, publishing, and the possible impact of AI now and in the future. We also trade notes on how personalized URL technologies – such as the system I invented called Inceptor – could be used for the hyper-personalization of printed magazines.

Along the way we discuss:

  • The impact of AI on content creation.
  • The importance of using SEO tools and data to identify niche areas with search volume, such as snow tires or pet insurance, which can be lucrative despite being less competitive.
  • The wisdom of pruning and/or revising older content.
  • The importance of dating content to increase trust and credibility for consumers and AI algorithms.
  • The need for contextual information, such as authoritative sources and date of publication, to improve search engine rankings.
  • The serious problem that AI systems encounter when they begin to ingest their own output.
  • How authorship and bylining may become much more important as AI-generated content becomes more pervasive.
  • The differences between trust and authority in the context of social media platforms.
  • The new phenomenon of social media users  employing old digital cameras to achieve a “fake historical” aesthetic in social media.
  • The evolution of direct mail marketing, including the use of QR codes and variable digital printing.
  • The potential for personalized, hyper-localized content in direct mail pieces and magazines (using a tool I invented called Inceptor) making use of personalized QR codes linking readers to deals individually tailored to them.
  • The importance of direct relationships between publishers and readers, rather than relying on intermediaries like Facebook or Google.


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