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Online publishers have been looking hard lately for a way to give their ad revenue a shot of adrenaline without upsetting readers.
Native advertising, in which sponsored stories are given a similar look to editorial material, is one of the most debated initiatives by publishers.
Now, a new technology that has begun to capture the attention of publishers, especially outside the United States, could further fuel the debate about native advertising, by converting any visual element of a web page, including photographs, into ads. and writing videos.
How Kiosked works
The technology of a high-tech Finnish startup called Kiosked it works as follows:
1. Publishers who want to earn income from photos and videos posted on their sites embed a Kiosked code snippet on their pages.
2. When a reader visits the page, Kiosked scans, for a fraction of a second, the written material that accompanies a photo of the page; maybe a news item or a product review.
3. Next, present a selection of one or more related products or services that the reader can purchase online, overlaying the elements in a strip placed over the photo.
According to Kiosked, among the publishers that use its technology are the British newspaper The Telegraph, the publisher of technology magazines and websites IDG and various European publications on fashion, technology and sports.
In a telephone interview, Micke Paqvalén, the founder and CEO of Kiosked, said that the company's technology "engages consumers in content" rather than acting as aggressive and intrusive advertising.
Publishers using Kiosked can decide what kind of visual content will and will not have commercial links, thus avoiding, for example, photographs of suffering in Syria and other images in which the tone is especially incompatible with commerce.
Publishers have access to a suite of analytics tools that allows them to see which images are driving people the most to buy. And since they earn income from successful purchases, it's easy to see how tempting it will be for publishers to make editorial decisions about photos based on such considerations.
For Mr. Paqvalén, publishers should get a piece of the action, since his editorial material is already, in many cases, helping people buy from web stores.
"In the world we find ourselves in today, the publisher creates impulses and merchants using e-commerce take advantage of these impulses," he said. With Kiosked, he said, publishers themselves "become the web stores of the future."