Going Beyond Related Content With Outbrain

Outbrain LogoAttracting people to your website is only half of the problem. Getting them to stay is equally important. Sites that generate revenue from advertising are motivated to keep people clicking through content for as long as possible. The more content they read, the more advertising impressions they are exposed to and the greater the likelihood that they’ll click on one.

There are various techniques for keeping people on a site, but one of the most used is related content. A reader reaches an article that they find valuable, they read it, and when they’ve finished they’re presented with a list of related content. Many content management systems have plugins for generating related content lists — YARPP for WordPress is one of my favorites.

While related content exposure works, it is limited. Perhaps the user doesn’t want to see content related to what they just read — after all, if the article was good enough it probably satisfied their interest in the topic. They want something new, but equally of interest to them

Outbrain is a service that promises to provide just that. Using a combination of context, popularity, audience behavior, and personal targeting, Outbrain Engage aims to match people with content on your site that they are most likely to click on.

Outbrain offers more features than being an enhanced related content plugin. It also enables publishers to leverage their traffic to generate revenue from other sites. Lets say you are a publisher and you want to bring traffic to an article. With Outbrain Amplify, you can have links to your content inserted into recommended content widgets on sites within the Outbrain network. Amplify works on a pay per click model, much like AdWords.

The most valuable part of a web page is above the fold. That’s why most advertising appears at the top of a page. For publishers, that means below-the-fold space is difficult to monetize. Because Outbrain allows publishers to “sell” their traffic to other publishers via suggested pages, the below-the-fold area become valuable — it’s possible to generate revenue from parts of the page that were previously worthless.

It’s a clever system, helping publishers both increase engagement on their site and leverage their traffic to generate revenue. And it’s successful: by some measures, Outbrain drives more traffic to sites than either Facebook or Google, and has a presence on more than 100,000 online publications.

Outbrain is fairly easy to install on a site, requiring a JavaScript snippet to be added to the page.

There are other companies offering similar services: Taboola is Outbrain’s major competitor. There are also numerous other networks of the same type, but they tend to include low-quality content as part of their recommendations.

If you think your site can do better than the standard related content widget, give Outbrain or Taboola a spin.

Matthew Davis is a technical writer and Linux geek for Future Hosting.

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