Cobalt Box
Location: Athens, Greece Greece
Founded in: 2009
Stage: Alpha (prototype)
Number of employees: 1-5
Short URL:
Followers (1)

Cobalt Box

cobaltbox is a platform empowering anyone to embed targeted applications in any webpage.
Athens, Greece Greece
  • About
Company description

On every webpage our users visit somewhere on the web one or more frames (or 'widgets') are overlayed. Within these widgets new functionality and content which is external to the webpage is imported dynamically. The cobaltbox platform decides automatically which widgets are to appear on a given webpage so that they are relevant to the webpage and to the particular visitor's profile. The widgets' exact placement on the webpage is also determined by the cobaltbox platform based on the combined preference of their developers and those viewing them  The widgets are marked as cobaltbox-generated in such a way as to balance blending in and standing out.

The new functionality and content is drawn using the publicly available APIs commonly offered by most online services these days and by combining them with plain JavaScript, HTML and CSS code. The end result is a widget with dynamically generated content and an interface designed by the developer. For example, an online shop for clothes could create a widget which would display one or more products which are on sale accompanied by additional information from Wikipedia regarding these particular types of clothing (e.g. designer data, historical origins, etc) as well as a possible price comparison of these items in ebay or Amazon. Such a widget can enrich the visitors' experience, save them time and clicks while the online shop also benefits from drawing customers to their website. Finally, the webpage the widget appears at gains additional content with zero effort.

The webpages on which a given widget will be overlayed are determined by algorithmically matching the profile of the webpage being viewed, the profile associated with that visitor (based on their browsing and other information they have submitted) and the widget's profile (determined by its developer when they submit it). As such, it is ensured that only widgets which display content that is relevant to both the visitor and the current webpage will be displayed. Widget developers can tap these webpage and visitor profiles by including cobaltbox-specific code in their widget and they can use this information dynamically in their widget functionality. In the previous example, the widget developed by the online clothes' shop should appear only in webpages regarding clothes and only to visitors who have previously viewed pages about clothes.

The widget can be overlayed anywhere on the webpage starting with the developer's preference. Following that, each visitor is able to further define their preferred position per specific page and widget, if they wish to. For example, widgets can initially appear on the top of a webpage, at its bottom or in the sidebars (if they exist).  Visitors can then drag and drop the widget to a new position on the webpage which better suits their preference. In any case, the cobaltbox branding allows the additional content to stand out from the original website.

Currently, the cobaltbox platform is implemented only as a Mozilla Firefox addon - future releases will operate with other browsers as well as through a stand-alone website. In addition to this, currently only the webpage profiling is operational - visitor profiling is implemented at a very early stage and developer widgets cannot be accepted in the cobaltbox platform yet. Finally, the widget placement algorithm is also at a very early stage.

Given the current level of maturity of the project, as of now, the Firefox addon is shipped bundled together with the first cobaltbox widget: Parallel Links. Parallel Links has been developed by the cobaltbox team and is to serve as a proof of concept and an example of cobaltbox's potential. Its placement and functionality is identical regardless of the visitor viewing it: it appears on every webpage visited, it is placed at its top, it reads the webpage profile and automatically displays links drawn from popular websites (incl. Twitter, Wikipedia, Amazon, and others) that are directly relevant to the current webpage.

Business model
cobaltbox relies upon a number of revenue streams.
A) The primary monetisation model of cobaltbox is a combination between that of the iPhone and Android application marketplaces and that of the advertising network offered by Google and other companies. In other words, widgets submitted to the platform, following the appropriate review process, will be assigned a for-profit or non-profit status. The for-profit ones will be charged based on the number of webpages they appear in and the number of visitors that view them.
B) Certain for-profit widgets which use affiliate links to generate revenue will be splitting this revenue with the cobaltbox platform. Tracking of this particular type of revenue is to occur in an automated fashion by filtering such links within the cobaltbox platform.
C) Selective and discrete advertising packages within widgets may also supplement revenues.
D) In the longterm, the platform could conceivably be considered for licensing for use within particular sites or ecosystems of sites.
Competitive advantage

When the cobaltbox platform is adequately developed it will offer a unique opportunity to both content creators and content consumers to significantly enhance how targeted their content is. In particular, cobaltbox widgets will offer their developers the chance to target their content both according to the website it appears as well as to the person viewing it. In contrast, for example, Google AdWords and similar networks provide advertisements based only on the webpage content - and not on the visitor. Similarly, from the perspective of the visitor to a webpage, the additional content viewed in the form of a widget is targeted both to the actual visitor and to the current webpage content. Such a potential exists already, for example in Google Search results (where user preferences can affect results, optionally) - however, cobaltbox offers enriched content to almost any webpage someone visits.

The cobaltbox platform offers its enriching potential to developers who need only employ off-the-shelf technology and simple tools (JavaScript, HTML, CSS) to design their widgets. In addition to this, leveraging the fact that the vast majority of online services now provide an API, cobaltbox offers developers a platform to make the best of these APIs and combine them in new and innovative ways. Moreover, this happens without leaving the least common denominator for most online activity - the web - and instead cobaltbox integrates the additional content within webpages (instead of creating frames, for example). Furthermore, as mentioned cobaltbox has a strong element of targeting content based on both the current webpage and the current user. Finally, opening the platform to allow virtually anyone to offer their functionality openly translates into  leveraging the community of developers to achieve maximum results. It is the combination of these elements that make cobaltbox unique: simplicity of adoption by developers, capitalising on existing APIs, using the plain old web, customising based on user and the particular webpage they visit and creating a widget platform (in the likeness of the iPhone and Android application stores).