Is “native advertising” the future of recipe website monetization and food brand advertising? Yummly thinks so. Today, the semantic recipe website launched what appears to be the first of its kind native advertising platform for food and beverage brands. Using their highly granular semantic search query data to understand a user’s taste preferences – the website employs technology that allows users to filter recipes by nutrition, diet, allergy, price, cuisine, time, taste and source – Yummly is able to offer its users relevant, “non-obstrusive” ads within recipe search results. Think Google sponsored ads but for food. The advertising platform also allows brands to share exclusive content, recipes, promotions and campaigns with Yummly’s fast growing community of over 7.5 million users.
The native advertising approach – roughly defined as “in-stream” advertising or anything that incorporates advertorials into the user experience of whatever platform a user is on, like Google search ads, Facebook Sponsored Stories and promoted Tweets – has been creating quite a bit of buzz over the last couple of months. Heralded as a more relevant approach to digital advertising than banner and pop-up ads, startups, brands and advertisers are embracing new ways to engage consumers and drive higher click-through rates. So, it’s quite timely for Yummly to be using contextual advertising, rather than display ads like its competitors, to serve up “sponsored suggestions” based on what a user is searching for.
Why did Yummly decide to go the advertising route? “At some point every company needs to make money, don’t they?” explained CEO Dave Feller in a telephone interview. “We’ve gotten to a significant enough level of scale that we’ve been able to evaluate advertising opportunities. And we feel that creating our own native advertising platform, based on what we are doing with understanding the food genome and really understanding search and discovery, gives us a highly valuable platform for brands and consumers.”
Yummly launched the platform with a select group of Unilever (a recent investor in the startup) brands, including Hellman’s, Ragu and Breyer’s. Given that the company has not done a lot of advertising, they will be working with these brands to test out the model and determine the true market value of their service. In the future, they will be looking to work with any kind of brand associated with the kitchen from from large CPG and cooking ware manufacturers to small food artisans.
For now, Yummly will be focusing on developing their ad platform and improving the user experience of their re-designed website. As far as the design, the startup rewrote the website’s backend using Node.JS, and dramatically changed the branding and design of the front-end. It is also starting to offer seasonal recipes on the homepage, but in the future they will be able to offer location specific seasonal recipes via an algorithm.
How do you think Yummly’s advertising play will be embraced by consumer’s and brands?