My Experience with Outbrain

In my quest to find another way to advertise beyond the shackles of Facebook, I came across Outbrain. At first, it sounded too good to be true. A platform that allows you to put your content up on popular news and blogs, as a “more on the web” or “promoted stories” note after an article (see below for an example).

Take a moment and visit a well known website and see for yourself. There it is, the unsuspecting list of articles that have nothing to do with the article you just read.

outbrain exampleEach of these companies (Saleforce, Styleblazer, etc.) pay for these coveted positions of course. Similar to other online advertising, you decide on your budget (minimum is $10 a day, at a recommended start of .45 CPC to stay competitive) which then puts you in the ranks of other companies bidding for space. The quality of your content is the key to success. But in my experience, Outbrain is not for every business.

For one thing, you need a boat load of high quality content and a healthy budget. Most start-ups and small companies don’t have this. For the small percentage that atleast have good content, you may want to give it a try for a minimum 7 days as recommended by Outbrain.

As you can see by the example above, headlines are very important! Outbrain recommends you come up with 3 to 5 different headlines to maximize your chances. The headlines should have the following characteristics:

  • 16 to 18 words
  • Use words like who, hot, surprise, questions, odd numbers
  • Don’t use the words: must or need

These tips also apply to headlines in your regular blog titles and subject lines.

Where I think it may be beneficial for a start-up is right after getting 3 to 5 pieces of press, or “earned media” as Outbrain calls it. When you have reputable people talking about you, it may be worth spending some cash on pushing it further to other reputable sites via Outbrain. This may drive sign-ups or whatever else you are trying to achieve.

Also, if the start-up is a content type business (magazine, blog etc.) then I see it working here more than a Facebook ad would.

Although I don’t want to throw down a gauntlet and say Outbrain doesn’t work for us small timers, its best to just look at the analtyics and compare them to your goals. Outbrain will definitely get you impressions, but without enough clicks that leads to a signup or a buy – it may not be worth it.

Another thing to note is, although I liked Outbrain’s onboarding process (easy to understand webinar), the helpdesk was not very timely or that helpful. But I don’t think google or facebook are any better in that respect.

Have you tried Outbrain? What has your experience been with it?



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