AddThis has released a new platform called Smart Layers, which it says can improve traffic and engagement by just adding a single line of code. President and CEO Ramsey McGrory told me that Smart Layers both improves on the publisher tools that AddThis was already offering and introduces some new ones. In terms of new features, Smart Layers introduces a "toaster" at the bottom of a page that recommends content based on a user's past activity. It also allows publishers to follow-up with users after they've engaged on the site. On the existing side, Smart Layers takes the AddThis sharing buttons that publishers could already include on their sites and it gives them an adaptive design, so that their appearance will be optimized for whatever device they're viewed on, whether it's a desktop, smartphone or tablet. The company says it can also optimize the social options that are presented to each visitor. And all of these tools are now offered together in a package that should be easier for smaller publishers to integrate. As the name implies, they're presented as a layer that doesn't change any of the content on the site itself. McGrory said the platform is built on top of the data that AddThis has already been collecting, so it can deliver a personalized experience even if someone is visiting an AddThis publisher for the first time. "The great example is, Zappos knows a tremendous amount about people that have been to the site, but the very first time, they have no idea who those users are," McGrory said. "It's called the cold start problem" — and AddThis is supposed to solve that problem. The Social Layers are already being used by dating site eHarmony. When you look at this post about "Five Ways to Deal with the ‘Why Are You Single’ Question" you not only see sharing buttons on the side, but also a section at the end called "Recommended For You." AddThis says that publishers who pilot tested the system saw more than a 60 percent increase in on-site content engagement, a doubling of follows across all devices, 70+ lift in mobile shares, and 50+ percent lift in desktop shares. Moving forward, McGrory said that Social Layers will probably become the main toolset for smaller AddThis publishers (as well as the vendors that sell to smaller publishers — GoDaddy will be including this as one of its Site Builder products). Some larger publishers, on the other hand, will probably continue using AddThis data to personalize their own custom tools. You can read more about how to set up Smart Layers in this company blog post.
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