For anyone who doesn’t know, Outbrain is a content ratings & recommendations widget that sits on many sites across the web. We use it ourselves at the bottom of our posts.
“The most awesome stage”
Last year, Facebook's VP of Design thought the TNW Conference main stage was the best she'd ever been on.
Recently Outbrain launched its revenue program OutLoud. For just $10 a month, you can submit an interesting article to OutLoud. Outbrain will then take the articles you submitted and recommend them on relevant pages across the thousands of sites using their content recommendation engine, from USA Today, Slate, The Next Web, Fox and Tribune to Golf.com, and the SportingNews.
When I started questioning the high monthly fee, Eytan insisted that I give him any two links I desire which he will then put into the system and let me see the results for myself. Last Wednesday I sent Outbrain the links and they were put into the system on Friday. Once I activated my account online I was able to get into the section called “Advertising Report” – there I found and could follow analytics data such as # of impressions and clicks for each link submitted.
From the start of our activity until now, I must say that the number of impressions has been quite high but the number of clicks significantly lower than I expected it based on the fact that the links were supposed to be directed at a specific audience who enjoyed similar content. As my friend Eze Vidra from VCCafe put it:
“In essence, OutLoud provides a cost-effective way to target sponsored articles to organic content on leading publisher sites and thousands of blogs. In comparison with ‘normal’ PPC advertising, Outloud catches the users in a ‘reading mode’ rather than a ‘researching’ or ’shopping’ mode, which is often the case with SEM promotion.”
Please note that I was told by Outbrain on Sunday that one of my links was not indexed properly so I should be seeing better results pretty soon. Today – Monday I must say I do like the fact that there’s no limitations on how many impressions I can receive for each link submitted.
So who submits links to OutLoud? According to Outbrain:
- The excited marketer wanting to drive word-of-mouth by amplifying positive reviews and articles about their company
- The proud blogger who wants their most brilliant posts to reach a larger audience
- The innovative PR professional trying to find new ways to distribute press releases and earned media
- The social media director, trying to build community by exposing larger audiences to a company blog, or to conversations happening on other sites about their products
- The passionate blog reader who fell in love with an article which perfectly expresses her point-of-view and who wants to make sure others are exposed to it too
The Link/s that are put in the OutLoud system continuously receive more and more impressions. As Outbrain say on their blog:
“At $10, OutLoud is really a no-brainer. If you analyze the opportunity for more than a few minutes, you’ve already spent more than you would by just trying it. Imagine, thousands of people exposed to your chosen content for less than the cost of a beet salad.”
While this is all true, and I think the idea itself is excellent, $10 is still quite a substantial fee for which I still think I deserve a cool feature like knowing which specific blogs my link appeared on and how many clicks it got in each blog.
Despite the lower than expected click through rate I am experiencing at this point I am more than confident in Outbrain’s capability to deliver at the end due to its strong team. Outbrain is turning out to be an innovative thinker in finding ways to monetize itself and at the same time stick to its philosophy of giving more value to readers.
The question is: Will it be able to monetize and at the same time promise completely relevant content all the time? Time will tell. I have a lot of faith in these guys who I believe have gathered quite a substantial amount of information about blogs until now and will continue to grow the number of sites using their content recommendation engine. Such factors will obviously determine the success of OutLoud and its ability to keep even paid links of top quality and relevant to the content at hand.