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Comms Axis

Outbrain Review

These days you often hear the phrase “content is king” however this soundbite leaves out the rest of the equation. Content is king because good content increases your chances of generating high-volume traffic. We all need traffic because in the economic system of Internet, traffic can be monetized. Either directly by advertising or converting visitors into paying clients. The question is then how do you get traffic to your content. Basically you have two choices; you can pay for it or use “free” methods to drive it to your site, i.e. promoting your content using social media. Until six weeks ago I had only used “free” methods to drive traffic to the netmechanic.dyndns.org/c/commsaxis website. Through use of “free” traffic generating methods I had achieved traffic levels of over 250,000 page views per month. Although I describe them as “free” because there is no upfront payment; there is a cost involved as it takes time to promote your content.

When I was approached by Outbrain a traffic sourcing service I decided to give them a go to see how it compared with my usual “free methods” in terms of result and ease of use.

How does Outbrain work?

Outbrain provides two innovative tools to help engage your website visitors and amplify your reach. The article recommendations on the netmechanic.dyndns.org/c/commsaxis website which appear below each blog post are part of the Outbrain Engage service. Outbrain Engage works on the basis that people who are reading articles are already in “content consumption” mode and therefore are ripe for suggestions about other targeted articles to read that reflect their interests. Therefore, by presenting visitors with options that match their interests they become more willing to engage and will stay longer on your website.

Outbrain Engage uses a complex series of algorithms to understand your audiences browsing habits. Consequently, Outbrain is able to recommend personalized links based on each individual’s content preference. Outbrain Engage works via a simple to install widget that integrates seamlessly with the look and feel of your website and generates the thumbnail link for each recommended article that you can see below posts on netmechanic.dyndns.org/c/commsaxis.

The other service offered by Outbrain is called Amplify and this does what it says, i.e. it amplifies your reach by display your content on leading, high trafficked site across the web, such as CNN, Fox News and Mashable. Outbrain has over 4 billion page views and over 70,000 publisher sites. It is the only marketing tool designed to draw readers from one piece of content to another; aka yours. You decide which articles you wish to promote; there is also the option to use an RSS feed so that new articles are automatically included.

As a paid source of traffic to your website, Outbrain Amplify works best for people with both good quality articles and a large amount of content. Outbrain uses a Cost Per Click system to determine the prominence and reach of your content across their network of publishers. You have complete control over your budget because you decide how much you are willing to pay for people to view your content by setting a CPC and a daily budget. You can start as low as 10 cents per click; although Outbrain recommends starting at around 15 cents and then lowering it over time once your content becomes more popular. This ensures that you get more click for your daily budget whilst maintaining your reach so that you get the best ROI.

If you can’t quite get to grips with how this works – it took me a while to understand it; Outbrain provide a personal account manager to support you. Outbrain is an extremely friendly customer focussed company. I’ve found their support to be amazing. Natalie Chan who has been working with us; has been very hands on and proactive in terms of helping identify the sorts of content that would work well on major sites and lowering our CPC.


The Outbrain dashboard provides a number of different analytics to assess your campaign e.g. to gauge how users are interacting with the content on your site via the widget and if you’re using the Amplify option; where your content is being displayed and what are your most popular articles.

This is the screen capture of our dashboard for the month to date (August/Sept 2012). “Impressions” are the number of times your content is displayed on the Outbrain network and “clicks” are how many people have clicked the link to view the content.

Outbrain Stats for Socialable August/September 2012

Our verdict:

Outbrain is easy to use. Once it is set up there is very little management required. Using the RSS feeds means that your content is automatically updated and you can then check how well it is doing and which titles have the best responses so you can adapt. It is great to see your content on really major sites. For example we have regularly been featured on Mashable. Guest blogging on Mashable has long been an ambition of mine; the information provided by Outbrain is a way of demonstrating to publishers that your content will be of interest to their readers.

Our analytics show a marked increase in both the number of visitors to our site and the time spent on the site.   We’ve used the Engage widget to reference our content. Whilst it is possible to use a plugin to show readers other posts; the beauty of the Engage widget is that by basing the suggestions on the visitors interest (assessed using their browsing behaviour data rather than topic related suggestions) the reader is more likely to click on another article. This is been borne out by our analytics.

Overall Outbrain provides a cost effective method of generating traffic that complements our other strategies. Therefore, if you regularly produce fresh, good quality content, Outbrain is definitely worth considering as a method to generate additional traffic to your website.  You can visit their website by clicking here

Dan Purvis
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Dan Purvis

Founder & Director at Communications Axis
Dan Purvis is Director at Comms Axis, a digital marketing agency specialising in content, social media & website services for businesses of all sizes. He is also a Media Champion for the Alzheimer's Society, helping spread awareness and understanding of this cruel disease.

Dan Purvis writes for a number of leading business, social media and marketing sites, including Smart Insights, MarketingProfs, Marketo, MarTech Advisor, Marketing Tech News, MarTech Today, MarTech Exec, and Business2Community. Dan's also ranked by Brand Republic as one of the Top 50 UK Marketing & Social Media influencers.

Dan is passionate about the philosophy behind Comms Axis: we bring content, marketing and sales together to connect businesses with their audiences.

We pride ourselves on delivering tangible business value and ROI alongside excellent customer service. We work with a broad range of clients and industries, from B2B to B2C, from technology to cosmetics, from start-ups / SoHos to pan-European and global brands.
Dan Purvis
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  1. Yeremi Akpan Says:

    Hi Lilach,

    I guess I should be giving OutBrain a second look. I mean, two wuality reviews in two days – thats more than a coincidence. Your stats are awesome! $450 for 15k+ targeted visitors…


    • Lilach Says:

      Thanks Yeremi. I would highly recommend you check them out – they’re stats speak for themselves 🙂

  2. Yeremi Akpan Says:

    Hi Lilach,

    I guess I should be giving OutBrain a second look. I mean, two quality reviews in two days – that’s more than a coincidence. Your stats are awesome! $450 for 15k+ targeted visitors…


  3. firdosh joy Says:

    Wow what a great article you wrote about outbrain. i am on this site for the second time and i experienced that you wrote very motivating article. you wrote an awesome review . thanks for such a great article


    • Lilach Says:

      Thanks, appreciate your comment and great to see you visiting us again. Pleased you found the review useful and I hope you try out Outbrain 🙂

  4. Lee Says:

    Hi I had never heard of out rain. Your post has definatly got me interested I have just put a post it note on the top of my laptop to check it out when I finish work. Looks great.

    Great info thanks lee

    • Lilach Says:

      Thanks Lee, appreciate your comment. I definitely recommend you try it out, their widget has also proved very useful too 🙂

  5. Omane Fowler Says:

    This is a very good post. I have been trying to find a great detail info on out brain and you have made it extremely clear. I got some questions on how to set up a successful campaign though how can I reach you.

    Once again great post! Keep it up…


  6. Omane Fowler Says:

    Great info! I was introduced to Out Brain earlier today. I then start researching to find out more about the company. Visited the website,tried you tube but your article gives me the best info so far. So once again great information.

    Thank you so much! I have a few questions though I was wondering if you can help…nothing technical just basic but tricky.



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