Archive for the ‘Community’ Category



For centuries past, the idea that a state could be sovereign was always connected to its ability to guarantee the best interests of its own citizens. Thus, if a state could not act in the best interests of its own citizens, it could not be thought of as a “sovereign” state.[wikipedia]

Sovrn's officeOn Tuesday at 9:05am Eastern time (1.28.14) we announced the creation of a new company: sovrn Holdings, Inc., (“sovrn”).

sovrn isn’t new in the sense of a start-up, but new in the sense of a renewed and intense focus on what made Federated Media and Lijit Networks (acquired by Federated Media in October 2011) great – the unwavering commitment to independent and influential online publishers.

We spend a good deal of our lives online. Whether it’s for information, commerce, entertainment or knowledge, we’ve all come to depend on what we discover, consume and share online. Publishers – the ones that create and curate content – are the cornerstones to what we all cherish about the Internet. Yet these publishers practice their craft largely in silos, without reference points or a deep understanding about how they compare. They don’t have the data they need about their site(s) or their readership to truly grasp how their site is viewed and valued by other important stakeholders (e.g. advertisers).

Publishers are our peopleSome years ago when we were still a small and relatively fragile start-up company, someone wrote “Publishers are our People” way up on the wall near the rafters of our old conference room. It was too high for anyone to stand and reach, and the office had no ladders. It stayed there for years, in big block print (red, no less). When we moved to our new offices a group of employees painted the same words in a huge mural on a big bare wall. The words are simple: “Publishers are our People”, but what they represent gets to core of why we exist as a company.

We advocate for and help independent and influential publishers. Help them understand their readership and how marketers view that readership. Help them engage their audience of readers with tools, technologies, and resources. Help them make money and profit from their hard work. This work is our mission. It’s the reason we exist. To foster an ecosystem where these independent and influential publishers can thrive.

When Lijit joined forces with John Battelle and the team at Federated Media, things really took off. The network of publishers grew from thousands of sites generating 100M impressions per day to more than 2 million sites and nearly 1B impressions per day. The programmatic and RTB exchange business has grown along the same trajectory and today we pay publishers $2M per week! We own and operate one of the most sophisticated and largest online advertising and data platforms in the world, and we’re still growing like mad.

In the coming months you’ll see us transition to our new company name, sovrn, as we double down on building out more resources and more offerings for publishers. Many of those will be services, tools, and revenue opportunities from the thousands of companies that operate in this ecosystem. And we’ll continue our work to pursue advanced yield optimization, data management, and data insights for our publishers and our marketing buyers.

I couldn’t be more excited for the journey that lies ahead.

- Walter Knapp, CEO, sovrn

Publisher Spotlight: Global Good Group


We had a chance to sit down and talk with Rick Jeffries and Josh Bois, the founders of Global Good Group, to gather some tips and tricks for building a site that has more than one million readers a month in over 200 countries. Global Good Group’s main goal is to promote global good by connecting people, information, businesses, and governments. The Global Good Group leverages the Internet as well as social media outlets to help make positive change happen.

Where did the Global Good Group get their start?

Initially it began in 2008 when we formed our parent company, Chains For Change LLC, with the simple purpose of connecting artists together.  Since the beginning it has always been a joint partnership between the two of us. We promoted and utilized our artwork and talents to reach a bigger audience while keeping focus on the aspect of global good. Eventually, the Global Good Network was created. We have 150 writers and contributors that have joined us over time. As we have grown, we have remained very humble and make sure that we maintain focus on the writings that we put forth.

How do you make sure that your content remains relevant to your readers?

We did things a little backwards. From the beginning, we said that we would never limit the content that we would write about, and by doing this, our site began to segment itself into different categories so no matter what we wrote about, there would be a niche place for it. Content is curated from writers from all over the world, and everything has a category that it falls in to.

How do you utilize social media outlets to grow your business?

Did you know that there are 125 social media networks around the world? We set up an account with every social media network that existed. We realized that there is more than just Facebook and Twitter, and we wanted to make sure we were utilizing everything we could.  We didn’t want readers from other countries to have to sign up for social media sites not relevant to them in order to connect with us. We plugged ourselves in from the get go so we could work with people all over the world on their own sites in their own terms.  Even though some of the smaller social media outlets only provide us with 2% of traffic to our site, they are still important to us and we will not cut them loose.

What are some cool stories that have come from embarking on this endeavor?

Whether it has been celebrities, political figures, or people who have their own spears of influence, we have been able to build a huge reach. The more content we put out, the more people want to get involved. This process has created countless good stories.  We take pride in the people that we work with as well as the progress and credibility that they bring to the table. During the Casey Anthony trial, we partnered up with Clint House to bring awareness to Caylee. We started a blog called Caylee over Casey and helped contribute to the passing of Caylee’s Law. We wanted to put this legislation in place to stop something like what happened to Caylee from ever happening again.

What are some tips you have for young bloggers looking to make it big like yourselves?

This is an endeavor that definitely needs to be tended to a lot, in a positive way. Doing what we did became an addiction for all of us. We wanted to continue to put out more and more content and we needed to start increasing our writer base and contributor base organically to do so. Lijit has been very helpful in that we have been working with the company from the ground up. Sometimes tending to your website can be a burden, but over time you learn to create different systems and routines that allow you to continually put out solid content.

What keeps you going?

We believe that the world is actually coming to a point where there is value in helping your fellow brother and fellow sister because we can all excel at what we do without conflicting with one another. Working together is what gets things going. Maintaining the idea of doing global good will resonate with people.

Special Thanks To:

Sandi Bois, Bev Singh, Ana Pischl, Megan Klein, Albert Qian, Jo Turnbull, NuFit Studio, Tariq Houston,  Xango Henry, Chiddy Graphics, Ian Hafkenschiel, Derek DeLang, HK, Keisha Wilson, Gary and Sheri Wells Brooks.

Responsible SEO for Small Publishers


Perhaps you’ve already had this conversation before. Maybe you’ve had this conversation a million times. But the reason that revisiting SEO ethics is so interesting and so important is that what’s considered responsible and what’s considered shady are continuously evolving. Whether it’s blatant and unnatural keyword stuffing, producing fake 5 star reviews for products or services, or conducting a vicious negative SEO campaign against your competitors, there’s no dearth of unethical ways to get ahead online. And this is true even in the world of small online publishing. But where do we draw the line? Here are a few talking points to consider next time the conversation about SEO ethics comes up:

  • Is it worth it for small publishers to engage in unethical SEO strategies?

Google has obviously made huge strides in the past few years to make the Internet more user-friendly. Especially with the recent Panda and Penguin updates, Internet marketers of all stripes have a much greater incentive to actually produce and spread more quality content that actually serves the consumer well. But Google isn’t perfect. If Google doesn’t necessarily reward responsible SEO, then how far will you go to abide by squeaky clean SEO standards, even if it’s not necessarily in your company’s best interests regarding the bottom line?  For small publishers, whose focus often is on quality over quantity, you should be aware that the Panda and Penguin updates have reworked search engines such that consistent quality sites and user experiences will be rewarded. This is essentially the future trajectory of all algorithm updates. When you are going about your SEO strategy, always do so with the user’s ultimate needs in mind. This isn’t just about being ethical; it’s about forming a sound business strategy.

  • What are the risks of opting to embrace SEO tactics that fall into an ethical gray area?

Again, after Panda and Penguin, what was once considered “gray hat” is now considered closer to “black hat.” In an informative article posted by WebProNews, writer Chris Crum explains the Penguin update in greater detail. He notes how many sites were destroyed by Google after having practiced what’s not necessarily been considered traditional black hat tactics, like buying and selling links, or excessively exchanging links. Of course, these methods can be used for unethical purposes, but before Penguin, they were considered pretty standard in the industry. As such, it’s important to distance yourself as much as possible from any SEO tactic that can be associated with search rank manipulation, if only to stay ahead of the curve in the future.

For small publishers, who may not be completely privy to the latest in SEO, it’s important to stay informed, so you’ll know as soon as a particular marketing method is no longer considered kosher. Some great sites to read about such updates include SEO Moz and Search Engine Journal, which explain SEO developments in an easy-to-read, jargon-free format.

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Join the IAB and other online publishers for a special event in D.C. on June 4 and 5


In partnership with the IAB, Lijit would like to invite our publishers to represent independent publishers from across the country at the IAB Long Tail Alliance Washington Fly-In. This is the fourth year that independent publishers will meet in Washington D.C. to learn, network, and call on our legislators to tell them that adverse regulation will hurt our businesses and our industry. During this two-day event you will:

  • Meet with members of the U.S. Congress and their staffs to tell the story of your small business
  • Take deep dives into tactics and strategies necessary to grow your business in today’s digital environment
  • Network with small publishers from across the country, sharing tips and best practices
  • Be guests of honor at a special networking reception and dinner at the Google offices in Washington, D.C.

More information plus photos and highlights from last year’s Fly-In can be found here. Or click here to watch a short video from last year’s event.

There is no charge to attend but you must pay for your own travel and lodging. The IAB has secured a special, sponsored nightly rate of $150 at the Washington Marriott.

This is a great opportunity to network, learn, and advocate for your small business. If you would like to be part of this special event, visit to register and book your hotel. Or if you want more information, please reach out to Chris Glushko, Director of Marketing, IAB, at or 212-380-4722.

We hope to see some of you there!

Increase site traffic and monetization with FindTheBest’s interactive widgets


We want to let our publisher community know about a new Lijit partner, FindTheBest. They can help grow your audience and monetize your site with its product, service and reference widgets.

About FindTheBest

FindTheBest is an objective, data-driven comparison engine that helps users find and compare their options so that they can make the most informed decisions.  FindTheBest, which is organized into 9 broad categories, covers hundreds of comparisons from smartphones and investment advisors to colleges and dog breeds—it has been described as an online Consumer Reports for all the big decisions in life. Each comparison is made up of anywhere from dozens to thousands of detailed listings and paired with smart filters, to help users narrow down and compare their options based on the factors important to them.

Drive Traffic, Monetize Site with FindTheBest’s Widgets

FindTheBest’s newly launched customizable widgets (and WordPress plugin for WP bloggers) are easy to embed into blogs and other sites, and help drive web traffic, increase page views, extend the time users are engaged on a publisher site and also help users monetize their site. Many of FindTheBest’s product widgets include “Buy Now” buttons that allow publishers to easily monetize their site at no cost to them.

Getting Started With FindTheBest’s Widgets

FindTheBest’s widgets are free to download and simple to install. To get started, register on FindTheBest and then visit FindTheBest’s Widgets and WordPress plugin page to install and find out how to customize and embed widgets into your site.

Single-listing widget

Multiple-listing widget

New opportunities for Lijit publishers to leverage FMP’s DailyBuzz community


As some of you may know, Lijit’s parent company, Federated Media Publishing, owns a group of media properties called DailyBuzz. DailyBuzz surfaces and curates the best content from the Independent Web and promotes it in five main hubs covering the following topics: Parenting, Style/Design, Healthy Living, Tech and Women’s & Men’s Lifestyle. Lijit publishers who develop content in any of these categories should take a look at how DailyBuzz can help you grow your audience, increase pageviews and generate revenue.

There are five main DailyBuzz media properties, including DailyBuzz Healthy Living, DailyBuzz Luxe, DailyBuzz Moms, DailyBuzz Style and DailyBuzz Tech. Each hub features daily content in its respective category from across the Independent Web as well as a newsletter with article highlights that is distributed to the DailyBuzz community.

DailyBuzz features publisher’s content in a unique way, making itself a one-stop-shop for growing your audience and exposing your content to new readers. Because DailyBuzz gives brand advertisers a new way to reach influencers and their communities, it provides you with a source of high–quality advertisements at premium rates.

If your content aligns to the categories mentioned above, click here for additional information and sign-up today!

Publisher website monetization 101


You’ve done it! You’ve made a blog, your content is witty, your friends all like what you post, you’re engaging social media to increase your traffic, and someone asks you, why not make a buck or two while you’re at it? I am going to dig into some of the key things you should know about advertising on your site.

There are a variety of ways to show ads on your website or blog, even more companies vying for your hard earned internet real estate (ad inventory), and even more companies still trying to make a quick buck as the display advertising dollars shift from more traditional media to new media sources. One thing to understand, the method of advertising I am speaking to is not in the vein of traditional advertising like in a newspaper where you solicit your favorite local shop to pay you a flat rate to show an ad for a finite amount of time. New advertising is dynamic and will show different ads on your site every time a page loads, this works to your advantage. Direct advertising, media buying/selling, and spot buys are all terms associated with more traditional ad sales. These types of relationships require the most effort on your part to solicit and maintain but can also be the most lucrative if you can set them up.

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Event recap: ad:tech San Francisco


This past week Lijit kicked off ad:tech San Francisco by co-hosting a party at Roe with our partners AdSafe, DataXu, and m6d. Over 500 industry folks came out to network, watch the NCAA Finals on big-screen TVs, and rock-out with DJ Adam Bomb.  Thanks to all of the Lijit publishers and partners who were able to join us!

For those in the online advertising space who have been to ad:tech before, you know that it’s the networking events that make the conference such a success and this year was no exception. A special thanks to other Lijit partners – Turn, MediaMath, Criteo, RadiumOne and Rocket Fuel who also threw some great ad:tech events!

Check out the great write-up that AllVoices did on the Lijit co-sponsored event – as you can tell, there was tons of fun had by all!

Here are some of our favorite event photos below.

Are you a publisher affected by the AdSense Rampage?


Every day Lijit talks to hundreds of publishers on the phone about everything it takes to be a publisher in the engaged independent web.  A lot of the time we pick up the phone which is something you would expect from a business partner.  Other times we send personal emails because at the end of the day if you aren’t successful, we aren’t successful.  Publishers work hard to create content that attracts great audiences.  All you ask from a monetization partner is to care about that and help you.

In the last few weeks, there has been a deafening roar from publishers who are getting blind form emails from Google shutting them down from AdSense.  These emails simply state that their content “poses a risk of generating invalid activity.”  For this reason they won’t be paid for content placements Google bought from the publisher months ago.   In other words, while we bought that from you in December, we now aren’t going to pay for that. Wow.

This is super unfortunate.  Google, under their terms of service, certainly has the right to turn off the AdSense accounts of publishers.  In addition, they have the right to withhold that publisher’s revenue from months ago.  And, I suppose they can do that without actually calling or personally emailing you.  It’s amazing how little they care.

Personally, I have never been in an industry where the 800 lb Gorilla behaves in such a reprehensible way.  It certainly feels like Google is “doing some evil.”

Google runs a huge exchange and for many publishers it monetizes well.  But frankly, as a business Lijit requires its partners to really be partners.  And in turn, we extend that same respect to our publishers.  Sometimes we detect fraudulent behavior and we call the publisher, explain the problem, and help rectify it when the publisher doesn’t know.  Sometimes we need to remove a publisher from our network.  But we will always treat you like a partner.

Rethinking the online advertising ecosystem: from a publisher’s viewpoint


Walter Knapp, COO of Lijit Networks and SVP of Platform Revenue at Federated Media Publishing, recently wrote an article for ad industry publication Adotas on how changes in the online advertising ecosystem have affected independent publishers. A snippet of the article is included below. To read the rest of the article, please check it out online.

ADOTAS –  The online advertising market is booming. The display market in particular is likely to have hit $9 billion in the fourth quarter of 2011 – a growth spurt that even on a steep chart looks like a right angle. That’s the good news. The bad news, from a publisher perspective, is that much of that spend is consolidated by a relatively small number of companies (Facebook, Yahoo!, AOL, Google, and Microsoft). This condensing ad spend runs counter to what the internet is about and why we as consumers spend so much of our time immersed in it.

What does this mean for high-quality, independent, niche and professional publishers that make up the majority of the web? Why are those publishers, authors, creators and curators of some of the best authentic, informational and entertaining content struggling for their fair share of the economics? It’s one of those things that’s simple to understand conceptually, and yet difficult to solve both at the same time.

What do you think? Please feel free to post a comment below or send Walter an email directly.