Today Atomic Reach is launching version 2.0 of their content marketing tool for brands, publishers, and bloggers. Atomic Reach is a platform that connects brands and publishers with curated content from bloggers in their industry. It allows brands to create “tribes” of bloggers who contribute existing content from their own sites on a daily basis. The content from the tribe is then shared by brands using custom widgets, which the company calls “Orbs,” or via a custom branded microsite.
The company launched the first version of its platform in February 2011, and today’s debut of version 2.0 introduces the idea of public tribes – previously brands and publishers had to have paid accounts to create a tribe, now anyone can create a tribe for free, and request to contribute their content to an existing tribe. Bloggers have to opt-in to having their content added to a tribe, and can either upload their content manually or pull it in via plug-ins for popular blogging platforms like Tumblr and WordPress.
The company is founder Bradley Silver’s third startup, and he got the idea when sourcing content for a project, when he stumbled on communities of bloggers who linked to each other’s content. “There is this universe of high-quality user-generated content being produced on a daily basis by highly educated or well-informed bloggers who are very passionate about the topic they’re writing about,” he said in an interview. “That led me to thinking how does a brand get its voice heard in this huge sea of content?” The company has about 1,000 bloggers contributing content to tribes right now, though Silver is looking to grow that number to 10,000. The company is currently working with about 10 brands and publishers as clients, and is looking to add two per month going forward. Atomic Reach has raised an undisclosed amount of funding from GenWealth Ventures, and they are looking to raise a potential round in the fall.
Atomic Reach is free for bloggers who contribute their content, though they don’t get paid (Silver says increased traffic is their value proposition). Individuals and brands can implement Orbs with Atomic Reach on their sites/blogs for free, but to get unbranded Orbs or custom microsites for their brand (as well as access to other features like reporting) requires a paid account. Small business pricing used to be $279.95 per month, but now that’s increased to between $500-$750 per month, with a one-time setup fee of $1000-$1500. Enterprise pricing ranges from $1000-$2500 per month, with a one-time setup fee of $3000-$5000. Silver says the price per month decreases as a client adds more tribes.
One of the brands they work with is SavvyMom, which recently launched a “SavvyStories” section powered by Atomic Reach. Blogger Kelli Catana signed on to contribute to the “tribe” and uploads content daily, which she says has led to a 30 percent bump in traffic. Because she’s in the early stages of building her blog readership, Catana said she’s happy to trade increased traffic for content. “If it gets to the point where I feel I’m providing them with more than I’m benefitting then I revisit the arrangement,” she said in an interview. “But for the time being I like it because I’m not creating unique content for them – they’re just hosting what is on my site – and readers get redirected to me. Right now it’s a win/win situation.”
The content marketing space is crowded with competitors like content curation engine Percolate. That startup lets brands curate, comment on and share content on their own platforms based on recommendations from five million scraped sources (they scrape publicly accessible data so don’t need permission from content creators). Rather than create tribes of bloggers manually, Percolate curates content based on a brand’s “interest graph,” which co-founder Noah Brier said is based on “what they stand for and the areas they want to participate in.” It prompts editors to comment on suggested content, then gives them the ability to post and share on social platforms. Percolate also offers the ability to host content on a brand’s website, and currently has 13 clients including Amex OPEN Forum and Reuters. Percolate also uses proprietary algorithms to continually improve the suggested content.
Brier and co-founder James Gross have marketing backgrounds, and he said in an interview that the idea for Percolate came from watching brands collect fans and followers without a clear plan about what to say to them. “We saw an opportunity to build a tool that would help brands build up their content capabilities without scaling up the costs,” Brier said. “At the same time I had been working on some filtering technology to help me manage my own web consumption and we saw an opportunity to marry these things together to build out Percolate.” The Percolate solution is pricier than Atomic Reach, between $5000-$15000 per month depending on the project (though it doesn’t have a setup fee). Brier doesn’t know whether the original content publishers are seeing a bump in traffic because of the service. “We haven’t had anyone come back to us specifically because of it, but really the publisher would go to the client, not us,” he said. “To the outside world Percolate is an invisible service.”
While Percolate and Atomic Reach are both competing for the same clients (brands and publishers), Atomic Reach offers a customized content solution that loops bloggers into the mix, while Percolate acts as a content curation and aggregation tool. Atomic Reach’s Silver believes his platform produces a level of engagement that isn’t achievable through scraping and aggregation. “From our experience, publishing content alone does not deliver as much audience engagement, traffic and value when compared to a content marketing tribe that is engaged and involved in the content publishing and content marketing process,” he said. “We also believe that having bloggers self-select their very best content improves the quality, reliability and value of the content which is also difficult to achieve using algorithms.” As more custom content marketplaces like Contently and Scripted emerge, brands will increasingly be presented with options to curate and create content tailored to their audience, and the competition between startups who are looking to secure their business will heat up.