Why Related Links Are Getting So Racy and What Publishers Can Do About It

An Option For Serving Mild Related Links, But Probably Earning Less Money Too

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The related links section of a news website can often be its most confounding. It's not unusual, for instance, to read through a well thought out, deeply reported article only to find a "Hot Hockey Wives" teaser listed underneath.

These racy "related links" appear there for a reason: they get clicked on more often and make publishers, and vendors, more money. But one such vendor, IAC owned nRelate, is releasing a product which enables publishers to control the salaciousness of related links appearing on their site, and show the projected revenue implications that come along with the decision.

"We think how it's being currently done, including us actually, needs improvement," said Neil Mody, CEO of nRelate, a related links company founded in 2009. Publishers, not ad tech companies, Mr. Mody said, should be the ones determining what type of content shows up on their site.

The new nRelate product, baked into its core offering, allows publishers to control the "maturity" level of the related links appearing on their sites using a sliding scale of 0 to 100. Choosing a maturity level of zero means a publisher will serve relatively meek related links. Turn it up to 75, and hockey wives start making an appearance. Publishers using the the tool can also set different maturity levels for different segments of their audience.

Salacious ads earn publishers using nRelate 50% to 100% more on average, according to Mr. Mody, though the revenue varies from site to site. "Our data suggests that obviously, the more smutty, or we call it salacious, you get, you can get a higher clickthrough rate," he said. "But at what expense is that for a publisher?"

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