- Larry Stevens
Coffee Talk with Barista Media - Issue #4
Barista Media Newsletter
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Hersh Patel, Founder and CEO of Hindsight Technology Solutions, a new framework and delivery solution for deep, unobtrusive, and highly relevant native content
"I love innovating in an industry that people do not expect to change. Amazon did that for shopping. Uber did that for ride-sharing. We're hoping Hindsight does that for search." -- Hersh Patel, Founder and CEO, Hindsight Technology Solutions
Q: Tell us about yourself and how you came up with the idea to launch Hindsight.
A: I started my career as an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs where I was researching funding opportunities for private companies across all industries. As the role was industry-agnostic, every deal presented a need to learn about a new market, operations, and climate… which was very research-intensive.
I got the idea to launch Hindsight when I found myself continually leveraging search engines like Google to look up people, places, organizations, and events mentioned in articles. This constant back and forth between the article and the search engine made it apparent to me how separate the action of searching is from the natural process of consuming content. That’s when I started brainstorming what a more integrated in-article search experience would look like, the benefits it would have for both the reader and the publisher, and the implications it would have for the search industry as a whole.
Q: Give us your elevator speech about Hindsight — what you do, who you serve, and what makes it great?
A: Hindsight is a predictive search company. We’ve created an in-article framework and delivery of search to improve reader experience and enhance engagement and contextual monetization for publishers. Our Smart-Tagging predictive technology pre-identifies search terms in an article and attaches internal related content from that publication, further context on the topic, and highly targeted advertising (native or video) -- all accessible to the reader with a single click on (or hover over) the term. Essentially, Hindsight converts the type-and-search action to a click-or-hover action.
Q: Other companies have attempted to pre-identify search terms in articles and serve up relevant content or ads in the past but it hasn’t been a solid win-win for all parties. How are you doing things differently in ways that appeal to both publishers and advertisers?
A: While several companies have launched in-text engagement platforms in the past, those attempts were not successful because they were advertising-driven products. Their main value proposition was to increase advertising revenue for publishing through in-text keyword placement, but there was no real value for readers.
Our product is a reader-first, search-first product. We are focused on improving a reader’s ability to learn more about different topics without having to leave the article. And it’s because readers view us as a search-first product, not an advertising-first product, the usage of our keywords are much higher. While presently we are only serving publisher search links in our search units, we’re currently working on adding contextual information for different topics – statistics/highlight reels for athletes, movie trailers/reviews for movies, streaming services/purchase options for songs, etc.
Q: What, if any, roadblocks do you hit when you’re approaching publishers with your technology?
A: Outside of the typical minor roadblocks (large product integration pipelines, changing CMS’s, etc.), the biggest roadblock is making publishers understand that we are a new product, different from our predecessors. The industry saw in-text advertising as a reader-intrusive monetization strategy and automatically revert to those memories when they see our implementation for the first time.
Once a publisher understands our reader-first, search-first approach and our long-term mission, the pitch is amenable to publishers. We’ve designed our implementation process to be easy, quick, and customizable.
Q: It seems like you’re having great initial success signing on publishers, which has enabled you to start targeting tons of keywords already. How do you use trend data to create future opportunities for publishers and advertisers?
A: Keyword usage data is a key byproduct of our system. We liken our data to Google Trends. And as we continue to scale, this data becomes more and more valuable. Internally, we use the data to continuously re-score our keywords so that we only tag words with high probabilities for engagement. Publishers have been using our data to more deeply understand what topics their readers engage with to drive SEO and future content curation. The trend data also allows advertisers to understand what words are trending in certain categories and directly place marketing behind those keywords – much like AdWords. Contextual targeting is becoming more and more important as privacy laws are becoming more prevalent, so we’re excited for advertising to leverage our contextual real estate to improve their targeting strategies.
Q: What are your top 2-3 content categories in terms of success? Why do you feel these categories are so successful?
A: We perform well on all types of content, but, we do perform better with “hobby-news” and “niche-news” versus “hard-news.” For example, “hobby-news” categories such as Sports, Music & Entertainment, and Travel perform well and so do categories such as Finance or B2B verticals.
Q: Final question, since this is Coffee Talk, we have to ask… How do you take your coffee (if at all) and what do you like to pair it with?
A: I don’t drink coffee! Green tea for me!
You can learn more about Hersh's work and connect with him on LinkedIn.