“Outbrain aims to challenge the duopoly status quo of Google and Facebook”

While the year 2020 has been a year of great disruptions for the entire industry, it has also been a year that has been full of opportunities. It was a year in which consumer behaviour underwent changes, in many countries and in many verticals.

The year gone by saw digital thriving during the challenging times. Outbrain is one such company that has seen growth during these times. At its Global Digital Unveil event held recently, Outbrain hosted two giants from Digiday (one of the largest digital marketing magazines in the world) who reviewed the changes the industry went through in 2020 and which will stay with us into 2021. In addition, the event provided an inside look at Outbrain as well as a future look at the new products.

Speaking at the ‘Unveil’ event, David Kostman, CEO, Outbrain, informed, “Outbrain saw 60% increase in trustworthy publishers’ paid views, and advertisers will always follow wherever the audience goes.”

Adding to this, Yaron Galai, CEO, Outbrain, said, “Outbrain has always been committed to helping publishers engage their audience to grow revenues to creating an advertising alternative to Google and Facebook. It has always been one that actually supports publishers in journalism. We are constantly coming up with new and innovative ways to conduct business. Great advertising is not just about counting impressions and range. It is also about how customers experience your brand.”

This is what native advertising comes in, and why it is the biggest growth category in digital advertising today and why more and more brands are shifting to native ads. Kostman further said, “Over the course of 14 years, Outbrain has created the world’s best open web advertising platform. The feedback, challenges and needs of our clients have always been our lighthouse, and we innovate with them in mind. ‘Unveil’ is all about finding different and new ways to connect with customers on the open web, it’s about challenging the duopoly status quo.”

He went on to recount how the way consumers shopped changed due to the pandemic, with shopping being done online – be it festive shopping or winemakers now selling directly to consumers online or fashion designers who have traditionally distributed to retail shops now selling online, even buying a car has become like buying a new mobile phone online.

According to Ayal Steiner, MD, Outbrain, “It is all about growing your business by finding customers online. Facebook and Google are two great platforms to do that, but not all of our time is spent searching, or following friends on Instagram. We spend a lot of time consuming content in the open web, reading news and browsing videos. So, how do I connect with customers in those moments? In 2020, we pushed the boundaries to create new ad experiences, new creative ways to showcase your product and reach customers, because the native ads, with a single image and a headline only go so far.”

Most consumers do not like their online experience to be interfered by ads, however it is not because they don’t like ads, but it is often because of how ads are actually delivered. “It’s the interruption of your online experience, when all you want to do is get back to the article that you are reading. So, as marketers this is our challenge,” Steiner said.

Lauren Pica, Head of Marketing, North America, Outbrain, emphasised, “We need to be present online and find customers online. But our ads aren’t going to work. All we do is drive the consumers away. How the ads appear matter and make all the difference.”

In 2020, Outbrain created a range of new experiences, balancing the best of both worlds – engaging for the consumer while being ROI friendly for the brand. Now, one can add ‘call to action’ buttons to any format or bring together multiple images across a carousel doing double duty of storytelling and interactivity. Some brands do this beautifully with realistic panoramic shots.

“We also have new video formats. My favourite is click to watch video. It’s a consumer first video experience that drives 100% viewability, because the viewer chooses to play the video. And it has worked extremely well for brands looking for a greater share voice,” Pica added.

Optimising campaigns to drive the right result at the right price is a time consuming process and has been done away with. Everyone has to work with fewer resources and deliver stronger results, so one has to get smarter and use tools that save time and allow the team to be more efficient.

How do we convert attention to actions to sales and leads to ensure that each dollar shows results?

Veronica Gonzalez, Chief of Staff & VP, Global Head of Business and Legal Affairs, explained, “Oftentimes, getting those results is incredibly tedious campaign optimisation. But you told us that you need to focus on your client, on your creative strategy, on growing your business, but not on tinkering with CPC bids targeting options to optimise your campaigns. So in 2020, we challenged ourselves to completely revolutionise the way we manage campaigns at Outbrain. At its core, Outbrain is a recommendation system, we predict what to show users based on their interests. This is done automatically through machine learning. So, we asked ourselves. Can we harness that same power to predict and automatically make campaign decisions based on the likelihood of an app download sale or registration.”

“Turns out, conversion strategy for CBS is one of the most exciting things that we did in 2020. We completely overhauled our brand optimisation engine. It’s a powerful set of tools that optimise the campaign for you. Think of it like putting your campaign on autopilot. Set the destination. New parameters and the machine does the rest of your customer acquisition goal, simply say your cost per action and outbreak automatically optimises the campaign for you constantly adjusting cost per click, ads websites to hit your campaign goal every time,” Gonzalez added.


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