Swedish Startup Space

Meet Sprinkle, the content discovery network powering half a billion recommendations monthly

Written by on December 10, 2013

Some of you might have noticed our new recommendation widget during the last month. Earlier this year, we used Outbrain, however, we were contacted by Johan Unger from Sprinkle and he really believed in a product they were building, Sprinkle. Sprinkle is the Swedish version of Outbrain, a distribution and discovery eco-system for publishers, producers and brands. I had a chat with Johan Unger from Malmö to find out more.

Sprinkle is a distribution and discovery eco-system for publishers, producers and brands. In an easy to install widget Johan says that “we use algorithms to recommend content to users on a big number of editorial sites and blogs such as Svenska Dagbladet, Feber & Resumé”.

Johan Unger himself, is 24 years old from Malmö, Sweden and studied economics and information technologies at Malmö University but dropped out. Before starting Sprinkle, he founded a company called Qulart, a news aggregator that he worked on for four years. At Sprinkle, he serves as a co-founder and a major part in our product strategy and overall vision.

I love technology and online publishing, it’s an area with a lot of possibilities for innovation. Sprinkle is a huge part of my life and I am very grateful to get to be a part of what we do.

Qulart, the world’s best content discovery service?

With Qulart, they tried to create the world’s best discovery service for content.

Even though we didn’t “make it”, the knowledge we gained through various versions with different layouts and features has been invaluable to the creation of Sprinkle and it’s future development.

I actually think we nailed the navigation with the last version of Qulart, which the statistics also confirm. Even though the circa 10 000 users we had is no where near enough to make a business out of, each user visited us on average twice a day with a whopping 12(!) page views per visit.

Is Sprinkle just “another recommendation widget”?

Johan says that, if you look at the competition, Sprinkle differs in a couple of ways.

Sprinkle aggregates content, primarily video (at the moment), from a large number of top producers which they then distribute to people that want to engage with it. And by content, Johan mean TV-shows, News & Entertainment videos, Sports highlights and other trending content. For the publisher it means a better user experience and longer staying visitors. Each video also generates revenue with pre rolls.

A great UI and design is very important. Johan is very proud to say that this is something that reflects in the products they create. “They feature beautiful designs and the ability to infinitely scroll sideways to reveal additional recommendations”. Johan mentions that the footer widget on Feber.se is a favourite among users.

Even though, like our competitors, redirecting users to sponsored content is a part of the revenue stream, it’s far from our primary way to do it. Without giving away too much of what’s to come, we’ve created an interactive way of letting users engage with promoted content, without them leaving the site they’re on. The result is a win-win for the user, publisher and advertiser.

Powering half a billion recommendations each month

The latest numbers are that the market leaders Taboola and Outbrain engage around 300 million unique visitors each per month. Adding smaller players such as Nrelate, Disqus and Linkwithin and you soon see that there is a huge demand for these sorts of services.

I believe that all of todays internet users have encountered a tool like this at least once. To be honest the roll out has been amazing. In six months we are live on around 65 sites and expanding fast. We give close to half a billion recommendations each month to 3,8 million swedes.

The launch has been incredible and Sprinkle has surpassed all their stated goals when it comes to click through from day one, “Which the publishers naturally love. To this day there has not been a single publisher that has implemented Sprinkle and then chosen to remove us.” says Johan.

Johan gives us two examples, Göteborgsposten and Myshowroom, both which they managed to increase their total traffic.

With Göteborgsposten, we increased their total video traffic with 150% after the first month. On Myshowroom, the synergy effect of recommending relevant content from the entire network resulted in an overall increase in traffic with 20% last month. Not bad for a little widget!

The road ahead

Johan ponders back to Qulart, where they came up with a really good way of discovering content, but could not get the traffic they needed to get it off the ground. Now, by using this experience, they will bring the same discovery to where the traffic is – the publishers.

Their product definitely is solid, and it’s worth noting that Swedish Startup Space have increased our CTR since our switch from Outbrain to Sprinkle. The only thing we are missing currently is a statistics dashboard so we can monitor everything ourselves. Definitely worth keeping an eye on these guys.

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