Outbrain Review: Native Advertising on Desktop & Mobile

Outbrain Review: Native Advertising on Desktop & Mobile
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Outbrain Review: In-Depth

Outbrain is a web advertising platform that helps media companies with self-promotion. With this network, brands can produce and share quality content with their ideal audiences. It’s not only a great place to discover new creators and agencies. In fact, it is a win-win for everyone involved.

This native ad system is where advertisers share inventory, such as Web and mobile videos. Crucial data and market insights help teams figure out how best to reach their viewers. Check out this Outbrain review for a closer look at how businesses can take advantage of billions of worldwide views per month.

Outbrain Key Features

Outbrain is a global leader in native advertising. It brings together businesses and marketers to boost leads and audience engagement. Some of its primary benefits include the content promotion and brand awareness.

Outbrain Background Information

Outbrain Background Information

Yaron Galai and Ori Lahav founded Outbrain in 2006. It uses a cost-per-click pricing model and displays links to business pages. Brands can generate income through sponsored content on the platform. In general, the system uses native ads to promote channels, images, videos, blogs, and articles.

Service Features & Technical Details

Here is a quick review of the solutions that create the Outbrain platform. Check out these features to gain a better sense of how publishers can maximize their audience reach.

Lead Generation

The company offers advertising solutions to brands of all types. With a dashboard of tools and services, teams can create effective campaigns. The process includes analyzing an ideal audience and reaching new consumers. Individuals can target groups based on interest or similar profiles to active customers.

Ad Server

The network invites publishers to create a unique “Smartad” to make a bigger impact on audiences. Groups have the potential to reach over 1.5 billion people per month. It’s all about building an emotional connection and appealing to genuine interests. Outbrain helps companies achieve these goals on the proper timetables.


Outbrain Affiliate

Managing monetization efforts can be a challenge. Outbrain understands the struggle and has built the tools to assist users. These include offering full editorial control to better comprehend audience behavior. Affiliates can also control content through various security measures.

Content Marketing

Outbrain Content Marketing

Along with complete editorial control, clients can access other management permissions.

The performance and lead metrics are also useful. With these, they can better control their campaigns across different channels.

Marketing Analytics

Outbrain does a good job of organizing key data such as revenue, engagement, and ROAS. The only downside here is that there isn’t too much in the way of tracking social media insights and reviews.


The platform works with a pay-per-click pricing model. Marketers must spend a minimum of $20 per day on their campaigns. The smallest cost per click is $0.03, although most publishers bid between $0.40 and $1.00.

Political Campaign

Along with traffic analytics and mobile support, Outbrain works well for political campaigns. With this feature, users can create full video engagement ads to reach more consumers.


Restructuring an engagement strategy is just as important as putting out great content. That’s why the network offers comprehensive retargeting methods and tools. Clients can streamline their viewers based on location, behavior, and other key metrics.


Part of finding the right audience is knowing which keywords and phrases they’re looking for. This network is a huge help and provides all the tools teams need. For instance, they can organize split tests, do SEO audits, and sync up third-party apps.

Social Media Marketing

Along with blog posts and Web articles, the system assists with social media outreach. Through these features, teams can better refine their contact databases and pertinent content. In-depth reporting and scheduling add another layer of professionalism.

Features in Detail

Here are more in-depth reviews of the main features and tools in the Outbrain arsenal. Check out the benefits of these solutions as well as any potential drawbacks.

Getting Started

The system works with some of the top global publishers of today, such as CNN, The Guardian, and Mashable. To advertise with these organizations, clients must provide quality images and videos. There are also upload and formatting guidelines.

Registering an Account

Outbrain Registering an Account

It’s easy to get started since registration takes just a couple of minutes. Individuals must provide their contact info to sign up. Other providers ask for billing details upfront, but not Outbrain. Once they agree to the terms and conditions, clients are ready to start exploring the network.

Campaign Dashboards

Outbrain Campaign Dashboards

The first thing customers see when they sign up is the dashboard overview. This is the central hub where they can get a general view of their campaigns. They can enter their payment details now, so implementation is easier later. The workflows are very intuitive and offer helpful visual aids.

There is an analytics section that shows campaign performance. These reports are based on different metrics, such as carousel ads, location, time, and audience behavior. These charts also display convenient insights like impressions, views, and clicks.

Creating a Campaign

Getting started with a campaign is easy. There is a button in the top-right corner of the dashboard. Click this to begin, and then set up a project goal. Keep in mind that the bidding method will depend on the specific goal.

Some examples of a project objective include more brand awareness, higher revenue, or a boost in traffic. Whatever the purpose, the campaign sets a default setting to optimize towards clicks. The next step is to select an ad format, such as a carousel ad or a traditional photo.


The default may be optimizing towards clicks, but advertisers can also optimize towards conversions. To do this, they must set their campaign goal to drive app installations or increase conversions. When this happens, the system will enhance the project’s CPC, making bids more attractive to websites.

It is best to start with a higher bid because it’s always possible to reduce it. This strategy will make the content more appealing to publishers right off the bat.

Budget Options

The system offers three budget types: daily, monthly, and custom. That last one involves setting the campaign’s end date or a recurring budget. Along with the pricing, clients can determine the pacing. In other words, they control how fast they want to spend the ad money.

The standard setting involves evenly spending the money throughout the month – accelerated pacing grants the system permission to spend ad dollars as quickly as possible.

Customers can also set a daily target in which they determine the daily allocated amount throughout the month. Be aware that once they hit the budget cap, the client’s advertisements won’t display anymore.

During the Outbrain onboarding process, teams will learn more about budgeting and spending schedules.


Again, it can take some time for the Outbrain staff to review and approve campaigns. So, it is in everyone’s best interest to complete a project in advance. This strategy will make the launch day even more successful.

Targeting Strategies

Along with pacing options, the system offers different target methods. Customers can play around with each one to get a better feel for their favorite. Also, different objectives require distinct strategies. Check out a quick review of each tactic below.


This is one of the most straightforward techniques. With this method, teams can refine their target audience based on country or zip code. The network recommends this practice to first-timers, along with device targeting. Together, these help to narrow down the search to find the most engagement viewers.

Platform-Based Targeting

Another way to find an ideal consumer is through platform-based targeting. This structure involves zeroing in on an audience based on their chosen devices. For instance, campaigns may look at device type, operating system, or Internet browser. This information lets them know where their ads will go and how likely they are to reach people.

Keep in mind that the system prioritizes mobile traffic over desktop visits. Because of this, it’s best to separate projects based on app or PC focus. Plus, this could improve budgeting predictions.

Advanced Settings

With the advanced targeting feature, customers can hone in on a specific audience segment. Usually, they base the strategy on people’s interests. Teams can use Outbrain’s third-party data to find particular niches and topics of interest. It’s still a good idea to take geo-location into account, though.

Also, keep in mind that attribute targets require an additional fee, which will be reflected in the CPC. Companies can use the Reach Estimator on the dashboard to predict how many consumers they’ll reach. This tool is crucial and becomes even more important when customizing the settings. As a rule of thumb, don’t go below a reach of 500,000.


Businesses may want to zero in on a custom audience to better serve their needs. They may base this on website visitors, clicks, or something else. In some cases, they can create a lookalike audience and experiment with that. Any new segment they build will be available on the dashboard for later campaigns.

To create a custom category, they must copy the pixel code from the dashboard’s Conversions tab. From there, they paste the code into the page headers on their website. The Outbrain Pixel Tracker can test its functionality.

Creating Ad Content

With their goals set in place, businesses need to create their ad campaign content. First, they must ensure that their page headers and images correspond to the linked images or videos. If they don’t, it looks like clickbait and discourages repeat traffic. This type of disillusionment becomes evident in the lack of conversions.

The next step is to choose a specific ad format. There are more details about this below. Once they make a selection, they should click “Next: Content” and insert the landing page URL. They also need to add their site name, the headlines and images, and a preferred call to action. Outbrain suggests 6-8 headlines and images per domain.

Ad Types

The platform offers three options: image, video, and text ads. They’re all straightforward formats and will work well, depending on the audience. Image ads include a photo with a subtext. Video ads are similar; only the photo is a video thumbnail. Text ads are snippets that entice clicks.

Carousel Ads

Outbrain Carousel Ads

This format invites lots of engagement, but it has to go to the right audience. To create a carousel ad, choose the preferred card images, and fill in the empty fields. This subtext will entice viewers to click through.

How to Track Campaigns

Once they create their ideal campaign, teams must track them carefully. This is a crucial part of making any ad go live. If all goes well, the pixel code will automatically record every conversion. All that data will appear in the performance report on the dashboard.

To be fair, it can be difficult to get precise conversion metrics. The Outbrain onboarding process recommends that new users integrate their Google Analytics account. Together, the two should provide enough data for a more accurate report. As a result, managers can make more informed decisions.

In this code, the landing page domain should be the URL that the ad will be on. Clients will customize the ad title, publisher name, and section name.

The dashboard’s native advertising reporting tool offers more insights. Customers can opt for a Native Pro subscription to get even more analytics. The advantages include:

Integrated Apps

The platform works with lots of third-party apps to create a comprehensive reporting dashboard. These integrations also help out with campaign creation. It’s a great way for advertisers to promote their URLs and products through high-profile publishers. Some prime examples include Amazon, Quickbooks, and Etsy.

Outbrain Plans & Pricing

Outbrain requires a minimum campaign budget of $20 per day (or $300 per month). The minimum cost-per-click is $0.03. However, for true results, people should expect to pay a bit more. According to several reviews, an ideal range would be $500 – $2,000 per day. Also, the CPC price is typically between $0.10 and $0.80.


Basically, the way it works is Outbrain charges clients for the number of clicks their campaign receives. The price is based on the CPC that the individual sets at the beginning. While the minimum monthly spend is $20, let’s say that the customer sets the budget to $50. They set their cost-per-click to $0.85. So, they pay that 85 cents for every click until the amount reaches $50. This equals about 60 ad clicks or so.

When they hit that budget cap, the ad stops showing on the publisher sites.

Teams can switch up their CPC by going to the campaign settings.


  • Choice of pacing options
  • Clients can choose their monthly budget and CPC
  • Competitive pricing
  • Mobile ads tend to cost less
  • No free trials


  • Any clicks they get on previous content is subject to a 20% fee
  • It’s hard to find that budgeting sweet spot

Terms & Conditions

Outbrain Terms & Conditions

The company last updated its terms of use in December 2019. All images and logos are the property of Outbrain and are under intellectual copyright law. The enterprise disclaims any and all liability in connection with the site. This means that the network offers all the solutions and products on an “as-is” basis. There are no warranties. The enterprise may terminate or suspend the use of its site at any time and at its sole discretion. They are not responsible for any third-party apps or websites. Moreover, they do not endorse the privacy policies of these partners.

Privacy Policy

The privacy policy had its last update in May 2018. Outbrain Inc. is a Delaware, USA corporation with its headquarters in New York. The office address is 39 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011 United States. The company collects information from website visitors as well as paid subscribers. Under the security section of the terms, it states that the enterprise maintains tight control over its data collection. It retains firewall protections and secured databases with limited and controlled access.

Refund Policy

Outbrain does not offer a refund policy. There are no references to reimbursements in Terms of Use. Even a visit to the Help Center doesn’t bring up any related results. It seems that once people pay for their ad budget and get the clicks, they can’t take it back. So, they won’t be eligible for any refunds or returns.

Customer Support

Outbrain Customer Support

Review the support channels below to learn how to get in touch with Outbrain’s customer service.


It’s hard to find the contact info for the company on the homepage. The corresponding link in the menu takes visitors to an online submission form. According to Bloomberg, the headquarters phone number is 1-646-867-0149.


Again, it is difficult to find a suitable email address for customer support. The terms of use list the privacy email, but this won’t do for client inquiries about products. It seems that the best bet is to message [email protected]

Online Chat

When individuals visit the homepage, they will see a chat icon in the lower-right corner. This pop-up window will reveal a computerized chatbox. There, people can select one of the preset responses to get answers to common questions. They can also request to speak to a real human for more information.

Help Center

Outbrain has an online Knowledge Base where visitors can find answers to frequently asked questions. At the top of the page, there is a search bar. This tool is convenient for finding responses to common inquiries. Individuals can also find content related to advertisers and publishers. Each section reveals FAQs based on several topics. Examples include general, billing, first campaigns, advanced settings, and reporting, among others.

Quality of Service

This marketing company is listed on the Better Business Bureau website, but it is not accredited. Even so, it has a B- rating with the BBB. The enterprise has 3 out of 5 stars on Trustpilot, but this is only based on three reviews. The company has 6.8 out of 10 stars on TrustRadius. This ranking is based on 26 reviewers. Most of the commenters say that the technology is easy to use, and the rates are competitive. The CPC is lower than most other providers, although the customization isn’t the best.

Customer Types

This provider is a good choice for those who want to advertise through text, images, or videos. Check out this section to see who the software is best for.

Small Businesses

This provider would be fine for a smaller agency, as long as they have the budget. It’s good that it offers advertising with large and small websites. In this way, it creates more opportunities for just about anyone.

Mid-Sized Companies

A medium-sized business or SMB would do well with this service. Teams can find appropriate publishers and set their budgets accordingly. Since they’re able to adjust their CPC, this could be a great opportunity for them.

Large Enterprises

Lots of large corporations use this service for its in-depth reporting and competitive features. Also, the pricing model is quite good and has one of the lowest rates available. On the other hand, some established companies may already have their ad revenue figured out. So, they may not need Outbrain.


It is a hit or miss with independent influencers and contractors. Freelancers don’t typically have a set salary each month. This inconsistency can make it hard for them to determine an accurate monthly campaign budget.

Outbrain Pros & Cons

Overall, this provider works well for brand and channel awareness. It can hook agencies up with some high-profile publishers, too. Even if teams use it for a short period of time, they can greatly boost website traffic. Another perk is the ability to use desktop and mobile ads.



  • Ability to attract a more targeted audience
  • Access to high-profile sites like CNN and The Washington Post
  • It works for different kinds of campaigns
  • The software has a premium publisher network
  • Pacing and budgeting customization
  • Simple user interface
  • The rates are competitive and approachable
  • Lacks whitelisting settings
  • Some campaign content is subject to additional fees
  • The approval process is a bit slow

Service Alternatives

Those who check out Outbrain will probably look at some competitors, too. Save some time by reviewing these six alternatives.

1. Taboola: Reach Genuine Audiences

Taboola Alternatives

Taboola is a private advertising company that focuses on real content discovery. Its flexible designs help users create more appealing ads that drive viewer behavior. The network can place brands on Business Insider, USA Today, and other high-profile sites. Clients install the plugin and set up native placements.

2. AdRoll: Get Noticed Faster

AdRoll Alternatives

AdRoll is a marketing and e-commerce platform that uses AI technology. It helps build more brand awareness through email, social, and native ads. Clients can take advantage of lookalike targeting and full-funnel attribution. They may self-promote on the platform, as well as CNN, Taboola, and many others.

3. Criteo Dynamic Retargeting: Bring Former Website Visitors Back

Criteo Dynamic Retargeting Alternatives

CDR promises an average of 13 times the ROAS to those who switch. The service helps brands reconnect with shoppers and drive more sales from previous website visitors. Some of its specific features include Facebook dynamic ads, mobile advertising, and direct publisher bidding.

4. Nativo: There Every Step of the Way

Nativo Alternatives

Nativo focuses on native advertising on sites like IBM and Chase. The platform analyzes each stage of the consumer’s experience with an ad. For example, there are separate tools for brand awareness, engagement, consideration, and action.

5. Content.ad: Creative Outreach Strategies

Content.ad Alternatives

Content.ad provides advertising opportunities with over 66,000 approved publishers. Its members only pay for clicks and conversions and help brands build creative campaigns. The banner ads are more attractive, although the payment thresholds are high.

6. MGID: Better Promotions, Bigger Returns

MGID Alternatives

MGID offers native acquisition through meaningful content. Its suite of tools optimizes conversions and makes the most of ad dollars. Clients define their objective, be it higher ROI or more leads, and let MGID organize a campaign.

Service Alternatives Pricing & Features Comparison

Review this chart for a quick side-by-side comparison of the seven providers. Keep in mind that more research may be needed to truly identify the best match.

Outbrain Taboola AdRoll CDR Nativo Content.ad MGID
Minimum CPC $0.03 $0.01 N/A ($12/mo) $0.01 $0.01 $0.01 $0.05
# of Users 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
# of Accts 1 1 1 1 1 1 1
A/B Testing Yes Yes Yes No No No No
Ad Type Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video Image, Text, Video
Free Trial No No Yes No No No No
Integrations Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Optimization Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Reporting Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Support Email, live chat, phone Email, phone Online form Online form Email, phone Online form, phone Live chat, phone

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Who Uses Outbrain?

    Advertisers and publishers use this marketing software. The former are brands that want to increase awareness and reach more potential customers. They pay on a cost-per-click basis and place their third-party links on publisher sites. These may include online articles, blogs, and social media.

    Publishers are well-established businesses that are willing to promote ad content on their sites. They use Outbrain to earn extra money each month by highlighting some of the provider’s advertisers. Some big-name partners include MSN, CNN, and BBC.

  • How Do I Block Outbrain?

    To remove Outbrain from computers and devices, individuals can install removal software. This download will take the service off of Chrome, Firefox, and Safari Web browsers. Users may want to remove it because it can decrease their system’s security levels. The first step is to remove it from the Control Panel.

    • Go to the Control Panel -> Programs -> Programs & Features -> Uninstall.
    • To delete the program from browsers, go to the settings, and click on the extensions menu.

  • What Does Paid Outbrain Mean?

    It means that a brand is paying the company to advertise on publishers’ websites. The paid portion will depend on how many clicks their ads generate. Outbrain charges on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis.

    For example, a business sets the CPC to $0.15, and they have a monthly ad spending budget of $120. They will have to pay the provider 15 cents for every click until they reach $120.

  • How Does Outbrain Make Money?

    It generates money from the cost-per-click fees that it charges to advertising brands. If a company wants to raise more awareness online, they may turn to Outbrain.

    They will have to set a budget cap for each month, as well as how much they’re willing to pay per click. These figures are how the provider circulates earnings.

Push More Traffic on High-Performing Websites

Overall, this provider is a popular choice among companies that want to boost brand awareness and get in front of larger audiences. The publishing pool here is full of big-name players like Mashable and USA Today.

Businesses can generate a lot more leads through just a month on the platform. If you have experience with Outbrain, let us know about it in the comments below.

Matt Robinson

Matt Robinson

Matt is an experienced technical writer and translator skilled in writing targeted texts for a variety of audiences. He has a diversified background, including social media management of various products. He is a data-driven strategist and a passionate story-teller. He posts about all social innovations and delivers high-quality research and content to our readers.


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