Parse.ly, the content optimization platform for publishers which emerged from stealth in January has been flying under the radar when it comes to press, but has growing the size of its customer base over the past year. The company recently signed one of its largest deals to date, having now added Thomson Reuters to its list of publishing customers, and says that it’s now on track to profitability by early next year.
The company, for those unfamiliar, offers a flagship product known as Dash, a predictive analytics tool that allows publishers to follow trends, page views, and traffic patterns to keep tabs on which topics and trends are gaining or losing steam with readers as well as elsewhere on the web. In addition to providing data that can help publishers gain editorial insight into their audience as well as help the ad sales team know what trends they can sell against, the platform also offers an API platform for publishers to build on top of.
The API, launched in mid-2012, takes the analytics data Parse.ly provides, and makes that data actionable. “We know what users are clicking on, and we know what’s trending on their site to create recommendation technology,” explains Parse.ly CEO Sachin Kamdar. For example, Parse.ly customer Ars Technica began by using the analytics data, but then began to inject that data back into their website in the form of article suggestions. “If you go to Ars Technica, you can see on their homepage this ‘My Stories’ module which is powered by this API, or if you click on an article, you can see article recommendations,” Kamdar adds.
New customer Reuters will also be leveraging the API. “They see it as a way to build custom analytics for their needs,” he says. “They’re going to be leveraging the Parse.ly API to actually take pieces of what we’ve built on the backend and throw it into their CMS.”
By having a better understanding of what makes readers click, publishers also become less reliant on strategies where they’re purely optimizing for clicks – sensationalist headlines (linkbait), slideshows, SEO keyword-packed headlines, posts created based on Google Trends, etc.
Some companies just use Parse.ly’s analytics toolset, however, and not its API, which is fine by Kamdar. He believes the whole content discovery market – the “Outbrain model,” as he calls it – is being commoditized quite quickly. “You’ve having a lot of people entering that ranging from Gravity* to Vertical Acuity to PerectMarket, and I think there are a couple of other people that are starting to go that route,” Kamdar says. “So that’s not something we want to do. We’re going to stay true to analytics and data and the platform that we have.” *[Disclosure: TechCrunch uses Gravity]
On the analytics side, Parse.ly competes with the industry leaders like Google Analytics and Omniture, for example, as well as newcomers like Chartbeat. But while Chartbeat’s real-time analytics offering is increasingly popular with publishers, Kamdar believes that publishers need the combination of both real-time and historical data.
Many publishers seem to agree. Today, Parse.ly has 70 publishers as customers, with several hundred conducting trials. Prior to its public launch, Parse.ly was running in a private beta mode with a few publishers including The Atlantic, Apartment Therapy, The Press-Enterprise, U.S. News & World Report and The Next Web, to name a few, and all remain customers today. It’s also now used by The Dallas Morning News, Mashable, Meredith Publishing (Parents.com, Recipe.com), and Sugar, Inc., as well as Reuters and Ars Technica.
At the time of launch, Parse.ly was crawling traffic at around 700 million page views per month from over 4 million articles. Today, Parse.ly now sees around 3.5 billion page views per month, with 10 million articles crawled, and, at peak times, sees 2,500 requests per second. The company has also grown from a team of seven to a team of fifteen. More importantly, the company says that it will achieve profitability by late Q1/early Q2 2013. Parse.ly had previously raised $1.8 million in funding from Dreamit Ventures, ff Venture and Blumberg Capital, but isn’t in need of additional funding at this time.