Visual Revenue Founder Dennis R. Mortensen Hijacks Your Homepage For Bigger Ad Dollars

Okay, maybe "hijack" is too strong a word—but Visual Revenue's "front page automation platform" gives media companies a scientific new tool to position their websites for the highest possible ad revenue.

It's not, well, news that print advertising revenue is in free fall. Newspaper advertising peaked in 2000, and in 2010 was down more than 50% from its highest point. Of course, online ad revenue is trending higher—but it's nowhere near enough to make up for print losses. Ask any editor laid off after decades of inky newsroom toil, or freelance writer churning out $125 blog posts to scrape by—any extra revenue you can squeeze out of existing online media sites properties would come in awfully handy.  

Visual Revenue CEO and founder Dennis R. Mortensen sees this current roiling landscape as an opportunity, since thinning margins require smarter strategy. Visual Revenue specializes in predictive analytics to help online media companies decide what to put on their homepages and section fronts. Using a tool he calls the "front page automation platform," editors can see what Visual Revenue's algorithm predicts will be popular with readers, and therefore generate more revenue with advertisers; the system can either automatically update web pages or allow editors to agree to suggested moves and changes.

"If you walk into the trading room of Deutsche Bank today, you'll see 200 traders looking at Bloomberg terminals, and they'll not decide to sell or buy a stock without informed decision support," says Mortensen. "If you walk into the newsroom of the Associated Press, The New York Times, or The Washington Post, you're not seeing 200 editors with terminals trying to decide what do we put on the front page today. You see people with good judgment trying to decide what is important. We don't think that is the way forward." 

Click "play" to learn more about how Visual Revenue works—and why Mortensen thinks it can help media companies capitalize on their best ideas.

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[Image via Visual Revenue]

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  • Dennis R. Mortensen

    Hey George :-)

    When developing our predictive models, we probably spent
    half the time figuring out, not just how to maximize, but more importantly how
    to apply a set of persistent editorial instructions on top – ensuring that the
    FT stay the FT and that the NY Daily News, stays the NY Daily News.

    Finally; what started out as a perceived tech handicap, not
    being able to fully automate, turned out to be a great cultural fit with what
    Editors want. They want a really smart friend, who can suggest, but NOT decide,
    what to promote on the homepage and for how long.

    Decision _support_ is the keyword.

  • George Bush

    It's always fun to see what innovations people come up with in the space of statistics and machine learning, but any truly automatic system can be gamed.  They'd better let the editors dictate what's best for their sites, or else I'm going to make a script that turns the NYT website into a conservative news source!  Or similarly, I could send a bunch of phony clicks to the Drudge Report and turn them into a fountain of liberalism.  Just send them enough clicks and pretty soon, you'll be reading what you want to...