We’ve been wondering where Todd Sawicki would land ever since he stepped down from the chief revenue officer post at Cheezburger last October. Now, we know.
He’s headed to one of Slovenia’s hottest startups: Zemanta.
Sawicki, who is joining the venture-backed startup as president, will be sticking around Seattle. But he tells us that he’ll travel to Slovenia about every two months, and also spend some time in New York City where Zemanta has an office.
What was the appeal of Zemanta?
In a blog post, Sawicki said that he’s excited about the company’s Content Discovery Network, and its ability to “help publishers and advertisers better promote and monetize online content.”
That’s especially the case on mobile where publishers are finding it harder to monetize their audiences since not as many ad units can be shown, and ad rates are far below the desktop equivalent.
With Zemanta’s mobile content recommendations in place, Sawicki said that publishers can get click through rates as high as five percent. When Sawicki saw those stats, something clicked. (pun intended).
Sawicki said he realized that links are “as native to the Internet as LOLcat photos.”
“They are such an expected part of the content experience that content without links looks and feels odd to readers,” he writes. “And in mobile where navigation requires a long scroll and swipe to the top of the web page, links even begin to represent navigation. Related content becomes something so much more than just something readers expect to find at the end of each article they read online.”
Sawicki, who previously led marketing at Lookery, Loudeye and Zango, was introduced to the Zemanta team at the 2008 London Seedcamp event. He met founders Bostjan Spetic and Andraz Tori at the event where both were serving as startup mentors.
Zemanta, which now has more than 300,000 publishers using its content discovery network, is backed by Fred Wilson of Union Square Ventures, Peter Jones of Eden Ventures and Robin Klein of TAG. It competes directly with Outbrain, though Sawicki said that Zemanta offer more publisher control and customization and has a bigger focus on mobile.