How I Got Featured on The Wall Street Journal, and Entertainment Weekly, Reaching Over Four Million People For Just a Few Pennies

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Have you ever noticed when you scroll towards the bottom of your favorite news or entertainment website there is a section called, “From Around The Web” that showcases several curated stories? Well, those are advertisements typically placed by the content promotion advertising network Outbrain.com .

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This is a great example of Native Advertising. What that means is that the advertisements are actually the atomic unit of consumption on that site. In simpler terms, The ads are the same as the content, and you engage the ads the same way you engage the site. This is the latest evolution in advertising, and is creating an entire ecosystem of really unique ad formats. It creates great opportunities to make your ad dollars go much further. The main reason this works so well is that it doesn’t require “Disrupting” the user, but rather fits into their current frame of mind, making it more natural and much simpler to engage the ad. I hope to write many posts about all the different kinds of native ads on the internet and experiment with advertising on them.

Outbrain lets you optimize very few features. You can control the start and end date of the ad, you can control which content it promotes, all the content you submit must be approved manually though since this content appears on high profile websites like Wall Street Journal. The campaign lets you set your bids as low as 3 cents a click, although you wont get much exposure in the United States with bids under 20 cents a click or “Reader” as they call it. you can ofcourse control the budget and the real optimization happens around which countries you choose to target. I messed around with bids, ads, and locations, but since I don’t monetize my blog much, I couldn’t justify paying more than a few cents. So, I bid 3 cents and targeted the world. Here is what the campaign settings setup looks like.

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The way to win with Outbrain advertising is probably by setting up each piece of content or category of content into separate campaigns, setting the bids accordingly, and targeting the right country. Here are the results I got running outbrain content promotion over the last few days…  dashboard

As you can see I got some pretty great exposure, many clicks, and only spent $147. As you can see I averaged about 4 cents a visitor. Now, if you look at these numbers in my google analytics account, you will see if only shows 3400 visitors and over 132 countries that drove visitors, only 62 of those countries sent readers that stayed for more than a few seconds. So, I am inclined to think that about half that traffic was not an actual human being. Still 8 cents a legit visitor is not bad if you are monetizing, and building a list, etc… All in all, I think this ad network has some great exposure if you attack it properly. I hope to try writing an affiliate review post about something like Web Hosting that pays out big, and test driving outbrain traffic to it. Of course the content must be great content to get manually approved… But, it is clear they have the distribution to get you exposure… I am assuming if you are prepared to spend 25 cents or more a Reader you can do really well targeting just the United States. I came up with another angle as well that seems to work ok so far. Since social signals are becoming more and more important for SEO, and more importantly Social Sharing drives more traffic, last night I added a wordpress plugin that forces visitors to share my content to finish reading a post. While many people probably bounce, I have gotten some decent social sharing so far. So, I will track the site in Webmaster Tools and see if this can be a roundabout way to improve search rankings and spread your brand. I guess we’ll see.

Want to see more posts of me experimenting with innovative advertising platforms, let me know.

 

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About David Melamed

David Melamed is the Founder of Tenfold Traffic, a search and content marketing agency with over $50,000,000 of paid search experience and battle tested results in content development, premium content promotion and distribution, Link Profile Analysis, Multinational/Multilingual PPC and SEO, and Direct Response Copywriting.

Comments

  1. they are dofollow links, i saw this on huffpost. how long before google catches on and counts them as paid links

    • DavidMelamed says

      The links are actually pointed to paid.outbrain.com and redirected they might also be javascript. I am not sure whether these help with SEO directly… Their TOS say that they wont approve content meant to be used for linkbuilding… So that makes me think, at a minimum, there are others who believe these links are good for seo. My best guess is that if you have to ask when google will discount the links, they already did!!! Also, the links disappear on the next crawl, so considering they aren’t permanent links, that probably doesn’t help your cause much either… 

      My rule of thumb for quality linkbuilding is the link should have a reason to exist besides the SEO benefits. Since these links drive traffic, and the content is manually reviewed and curated, there is an argument to be made that they should count for SEO… 

      I see a spike in social sharing and traffic to my site from the “pay with a tweet” feature, so buying the traffic is definitely helping me indirectly. 

  2. I’m no where near the point where I would be producing ads like that, but it sounds like a very interesting way to target people, and even after you remove the views that were possibly bots, it was still good for the amount of money you spent. I often spend hours on the internet clicking from ad to ad when the content linked are articles and posts, so it wouldn’t surprise me if I’d been finding content through someones use of this program. Out of curiosity, are you still using Outbrain, and if you are, what would you say of your results with it now?

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