One Small Step for Outbrain, One Giant Leap for Native Advertising
I’m sure for most of you reading this, AdWords and Facebook are the cornerstones of your online advertising campaigns. I think we can all agree that these two platforms are the de facto leaders in paid search and paid social advertising. Sure, the likes of Yahoo and Bing are big players too, but because of the degree of sophistication that AdWords and Facebook offer, they rule the roost.
Outbrain Custom Audiences
Now, with the rollout of Custom Audiences to its entire Amplify network, Outbrain are about to make the leap from a native ad platform, as we used to know them, to something entirely different. I should say that Outbrain custom audiences were originally announced in January last year, but they were only available to a select group of marketers.
And, as if that’s not enough, the rollout of custom audiences to all Amplify accounts has been coupled with an updated Outbrain pixel. You can now manage your pixels directly from your Amplify dashboard!
That’s right, no more reaching out to your account manager, or emailing Outbrain’s support team to get your conversion pixel.
The updated pixel is similar to the Facebook pixel base code; you implement the pixel to fire on all pages of your web properties and thereafter track conversions by site URL (e.g. /confirmation), or by adding extra event-based conversion snippets to your base code (e.g. a Lead snippet).
Once your base code pixel and event snippets are set up correctly, you can then go ahead and create two types of Custom Audiences:
- Audience Retargeting – Create a pool of users that have visited a certain page or a combination of pages on your website.
- Story Sequencing – Retarget those who have viewed your Outbrain campaign in the past.
AIM Tip: Make sure your pixel is firing correctly with the Outbrain Pixel Tracker Chrome extension.
Outbrain Retargeting: Remarketing on a Whole New Level
Out of the two types of remarketing now possible, I am particularly excited about story sequencing and how easy it makes remarketing on Outbrain. With story sequencing, you can reach audiences who have already engaged with your content and then show them different messages for whatever level of the funnel they are at. In essence, you can plot a reader’s customer journey. For example, I created four top-of-funnel campaigns on Outbrain where the goal was to get people to engage with articles that all relate to investing in ‘penny stocks.’ I can now select these articles under story sequencing and remarket to those people with a squeeze page that is further down funnel.
At this stage, the goal is to get the person to sign up to the free e-letter. I could then create a Retargeting audience of people who signed up to the e-letter and who previouslty engaged with my articles. I then create a campaign to send those people to an advertorial that links to a promotion for a paid product! In essence, what you are doing here is creating a paid automated series, or paid gauntlet campaign on Outbrain! Sure, this is technically possible with regular remarketing through Analytics and then AdWords, but before you would have had to take the person out of Outbrain.
Lookalike Audiences Are Coming Soon…
Another reason why I am so excited about this update is that we know with absolute certainty that lookalike audiences are just around the corner. In fact, some Amplify accounts may have access to this new feature already! As I’m sure is the case for most of you reading this, Lookalike Audiences on Facebook and Similar Audiences on AdWords are the best performing audience types to run to. Now imagine being able to reach a lookalike of your converters on a network that reaches over 557 million people and serves over 200 billion content recommendations per month!
Outbrain is All Grown Up
The biggest problem with native advertising in the past has been the lack of targeting options and measurability. Slowly but surely, as these platforms have added these elements of sophistication to their platforms, they have forced us to stand up and take notice. Whereas in the past, some native platforms couldn’t even track conversions, platforms like Revcontent now have interest-based targeting – which allows us marketers to segment our campaigns by vertical; and, at the time of writing this article, Taboola just released an update to their retargeting pixel that now allows you to retarget your website visitors. But, with Outbrain’s Custom Audiences update, and with Lookalikes and 3rd party data-uploads (more on this coming soon) just around the corner, I believe Outbrain has just set itself apart from everyone else in the market.
All the best,
Account Manager, AIM