Paul Berry, the ex-Huffington Post CTO who launched social content integrating service RebelMouse a year ago, is capitalizing on his startup’s success by turning to advertising for monetization. As informed social media managers and content managers will doubtless be aware, the service lets users gather together content that they’ve placed on diverse social networks. And it’s now claiming bragging rights over 5 million unique visitors per month who between them have built 300,000 new sites to display their integrated content.
A gateway, not a destination
For a one-year-old startup, RebelMouse has attracted the attention of some big names, all of whom have used it (these include AOL, The Wall Street Journal and Time). Financially canny social media managers may want to know how all this translates into dollars. According to Berry, the site is making money out of its subscription model: for $9.99 a month, users can host their very own RebelMouse site from their own domain.
Berry is clear that he never intended the site to be a destination; it’s all about helping to “open the web.” But he’s clearly got his business head on and plans to monetize, specifically with the use of native advertising. Although seasoned social media managers may groan at that term – it’s used by all and sundry in slightly different ways to mean a multitude of different things – Berry’s definition is probably one that most would endorse: native ads should match the content and look of the site they appear on.
He believes RebelMouse is ready to deliver sponsored content that’s tailored to users’ contexts – and it’ll be able to do so in real-time too. As Berry puts it, “We can give publishers native advertising at scale.”
But this is but one step in a longer strategy. New smartphone apps are the pipeline, reflecting the fact that a big slice of RebelMouse’s traffic comes from mobile. Over the last year, Berry notes, there has been an explosion of new social apps, a trend he believes will continue.
“It’s surprising, but social graphs, instead of gaining value over time, well, there’s an aspect that’s true, but there’s the opposite, where they lose value over time — people enjoy new networks. That’s why RebelMouse’s goal is to remain the Switzerland of all of this.”