This interview has been led by Compado’s editorial staff, remotely, with Emanuel residing, at the time of the interview, in Bavaria, Germany, on Thursday, January 26. Press-related enquiries can be submitted here.
Engineering Blog: Compado has been working on a contextual advertising widget for a while now. Can you explain to the readers of this blog what the “Compado Widget” is and how it will be named?
Emanuel Hoch: “Sure, over the last years we have developed a contextual advertising widget – an advertising technology that is able to display contextually fitting brands on content sites.
We call this new technology, our advertising widget, Rank AI. Rank AI helps content creators and publishers around the world to add contextual advertising to their sites. It’s primarily directed at owners of websites that are creating content and that, accordingly, want to monetize their content.
Rank AI, at the heart, does two things: It first looks at the context at hand and then finds a fitting brand that should be presented alongside.
Moreover, Rank AI is fully automated. Once added to the site, it finds matching brands that should be presented on that site instantly. It automatically fetches the best-monetized offers for those brands, too, and optimizes RPM by only presenting the best-matching and highest-converting brands.
Rank AI will officially go out of beta and launch in Q2-2023. From May  onwards, it’s possible to request access to Rank AI. Send me a message if you’d like to be among the first testers.”
Engineering Blog: Why did Compado decide to develop an advertising widget in the first place?
“We are a tech platform for contextual advertising and, for many years now, have built and maintained relationships with leading consumer brands. You can say that we’re pretty good at developing and nurturing brand relationships. Plus, at Compado we have a very good, industry-leading Account Management team.
What I want to get at is this: For me it always seemed like a waste to not make this skill set of ours available to the outside world. In online marketing, excellent partner management is key, but hardly anyone gets it right. And here is where we come in.
As a tech company, our thinking is: You’re good with something, you automate it, you turn it into a product, you market it. And that’s what we’re doing with Rank AI.
You know, a lot of webmasters and content site owners struggle with partner management: It’s tough for them to maintain deep relationships with brands, to negotiate leading deals with them, and to make sure that tracking infrastructure is flawless – to name just a few examples. Adding Rank AI to one’s site, content creators tap into Compado’s leading partner management. They get access to our brand relationships and the many exclusive deals we’re developing with partnering brands.
Also, and very importantly, with Rank AI, publishers get their hands on a leading contextual advertising widget that allows them to dip their toes into contextual marketing. Rank AI has been developed for the post-cookie era – for a time when advertising needs to be non-intrusive and privacy-first. It’s fully contextual and I want to stress that it does not need third-party cookies to work at all. Publishers that want to add a contextual privacy-friendly advertising widget to their site will be very pleased with Rank AI.”
Engineering Blog: Can you explain how Rank AI works?
“Rank AI, essentially, is a code snipped that webmasters add to the header of their content site. As soon as the snippet is added, the Rank AI crawler will pay the site a visit and crawl and categorize the site to better understand the context. Once Rank AI understands the context at hand – what a site is about – it looks for matching brands in Compado’s inventory.
It’s noteworthy that Compado manages hundreds and hundreds of brand relationships, plus we’re in the midst of founding our own meta network for bundling brand relationships and deals at scale, which will contain several thousands of partnerships and offers, covering a huge spectrum of industries.
What I want to say is this: In the long run, it will be very unlikely that there’s a consumer-facing industry out there that Rank AI can’t monetize with contextually fitting brand recommendations. It is my vision that, at some point, we’ll be able to find matching brands for almost all industries.”
Engineering Blog: Where does Rank AI show already, can you name a few examples?
“Sure, for instance, in Germany, RTL.de is making use of Rank AI to monetize their shopping guides. Another example is WMN.de, a content site of Funke Media for female-first content. Rank AI supports them, among others, with monetizing their matchmaking-related content pieces.
Actually, there were many different types of beta testers so far – including blogs, media sites, content sites and review sites.”
Engineering Blog: Can we have a look at one of your examples?
“Sure, here’s an article from WMN.de [see below]. It’s a piece about going on a first date.
Rank AI understands that the context here is ‘matchmaking and relationships’ and understands that, therefore, online dating brands are a suitable match.
By inserting highly contextual and relevant brand recommendations, like the one you can see on the example, Rank AI is able to improve RPMs drastically.”
Engineering Blog: We have heard that Rank AI helps brands to get ready for the post-cookie era, especially when it comes to finding new customers without cookies. We have also heard that Rank AI helps publishers to monetize their content without those cookies.
Can you elaborate, what challenges of the post-cookie era does Rank AI actually address?
“It’s true that many content monetization systems are cookie-based. Just think of how AdSense works, or think about programmatic advertising or retargeting. It’s not uncommon at all that brands are following you around the web.
The perception, here, is changing rather rapidly. What was okay a few years ago is now considered invasive. Developing more privacy-friendly modes of advertising has definitely been a consideration while developing Rank AI. It’s an open secret that many advertising technologies first and foremost look at where a user has been, which is obviously highly based on third-party cookies.
Not so with Rank AI. Our contextual advertising widget puts context first. Instead of looking at a user’s browsing history, Rank AI asks: What is that user viewing? What is that user reading? Rank AI then inserts a relevant brand recommendation based on that.
That’s what I call ‘privacy-first’: advertising technology that doesn’t need to dive into a user’s browsing history to see what’s relevant but that merely turns at what a user is looking at – to understand what is relevant to that user.
So, yes, it is a key challenge of the post-cookie era to still be able to display relevant advertising. And Rank AI helps with solving that by presenting a way for publishers to display relevant and contextually targeted brand recommendations on their sites, all without using any third-party cookies.”
Engineering Blog: When I am with a brand, and my brand is joining Compado’s Contextual Advertising Platform, will my brand automatically be advertised through Rank AI?
Also, if I want to advertise my brand through Rank AI, how do I go about it?
“There’s two ways how your brand becomes eligible for being advertised through Rank AI.
The first is, you sign up to Compado’s Contextual Advertising Platform. You can do this here.
The other is, your brand is signed up to an affiliate network that’s part of our meta network. Our meta network bundles offers available through regular affiliate networks. So, if the affiliate network you’re working with has partnered with Compado, that would also get your brand on Rank AI.
In a nutshell, if you want to make sure that your brand is advertised on Rank AI, basically, the only thing you need to do is get access to our platform for contextual advertising. You can sign up here.”
Engineering Blog: In turn, if I am with a publisher, or if I am the owner of content sites, and I want to monetize my content through contextual advertising, how do I get my hands on Rank AI?
“From May  onwards, we’ll be accepting applications from webmasters.
You can send me a message, too, if you want to discuss contextual advertising strategies!
I also want to highlight that we’ll launch a self-service platform soon, where webmasters can get access to Rank AI. Stay tuned!”
Engineering Blog: The year is still young – Can you tell us what your plans for Rank AI are for 2023?
“As I said before, we will soon launch a self-service platform for Rank AI – a place where webmasters can get access to our contextual advertising widget easily. From then on, everyone who wants to monetize their content through smart contextual advertising will be able to do that with ease.
On that self-service platform, publishers big and small will be able to sign up. The platform itself will also be able to display revenues, KPIs and stats – so that publishers can track their performance. It’s our goal to be as transparent as possible about how Rank AI gets our publishers higher RPMs.
It is also a personal goal of mine to visit content-site and SEO trade shows in the course of 2023, especially to talk with potential users – namely, content creators that are in need of excellent content monetization. I am a Product Manager at heart and there’s nothing dearer to me than talking to users directly.”