Yummly, an innovative recipe search engine (and a top 2,000 most trafficked US site), was looking to drive incremental revenue by displaying ads. While they already monetized from their Pro subscription, they knew that with over 5 million monthly website visitors, they were leaving money on the table by not monetizing their browsing traffic.
So Yummly built their own Sponsored Recipes ad server - leading to a new revenue stream that involved no changes to the user experience (thereby keeping users happy).
"Our user experience is our top priority - so we were looking to build a native ad product that would appeal to advertisers without annoying our users."Winnie Lee, Sr. Product Manager
Yummly is a search engine for recipes, with a clean layout, thousands of recipes, and many filtering options. The recipes are supplied either internally or by approved, independent third-parties, like Handle the Heat or Betty Crocker.
There was no room on the website or app to throw in programmatic banners without severely changing the user experience. So they internally came up with the goal of building a Sponsored Recipes ad product, similar to that already offered by their competitor, AllRecipes.
That AllRecipes ad product enabled advertisers to:
Such an innovative ad unit changes very little about the user's browsing experience, as well as very little about the page itself. But by just throwing in a relevant brand name here or there, Yummly had a huge opportunity to drive revenue that was nearly 100% margin.
Yummly fulfilled their vision by building an ad server where brands can pay to have their logos attached to specific recipes. To do this, advertisers get set up as third-party recipe providers, upload their own recipe, and then Yummly:
Additionally, with the platform Yummly could:
Now, any brand could sponsor a recipe and pay to be in the top spot for a relevant search. Types of campaigns could include:
These campaigns would predominantly be used for brand awareness campaigns (since there's no call-to-action or external link), and advertisers would get manual reports from Yummly about the performance.
"A good native ad product is profitable, appealing to brands, and doesn't impact the user experience - and our Sponsored Recipes ad unit accomplished all three."Winnie Lee, Sr. Product Manager
Yummly saw positive results immediately upon launching:
An additional benefit of this ad platform is it it 100% compliant with international privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA. In fact, it doesn't require any PII or cookies to still be valuable to advertisers. Instead, it relies on intent info - such as what type of food the person is searching to make (and the ingredients needed to make it). Given that, there's little risk to Yummly or their advertisers that they are running afoul of a privacy law.
Yummly saw the value of a Promoted Recipes ad platform - but didn't have the resources internally to spend a year plus building it. Additionally, every month the product wasn't ready was a month of lost revenue.
So Yummly integrated with Kevel's APIs to launch the product in just weeks. This included using Kevel's Decision API to request ad decisions server-side so they could get around ad blocking and natively integrate the ads into their product.
"We built sponsored recipes on top of Kevel. It took only a few weeks and has been a huge revenue driver for us."Winnie Lee, Sr. Product Manager
Native ad platforms - whether they're sponsored recipes or sponsored social posts or so on - can't be built in a day. But if your company commits to creating one, it's a great way to drive new revenue (at very high margins), without having to resort to obnoxious programmatic banner ads. Plus, having your own Walled Garden ad product means that you control your monetization destiny and aren't reliant on Google/other ad tech players for ad revenue.
Have you built your own native recipes ad product? We'd love to hear from you!
Chris has worked in ad tech for over fourteen years in a variety of roles - giving him customer support, PM, and marketing perspectives from both the advertiser and publisher sides. He's the VP of Marketing at Kevel.