What the Taboola-Outbrain Merger Means for Marketers

In late September of 2019, Taboola announced that it was acquiring outbrain for $250 million and 30 percent of their equity. Their exact valuation after the merger isn’t public, but it’s rumored that both companies are worth more than a billion dollars and are turning a profit, raising over $150 million in funding between them.

What are Taboola and Outbrain?

If you’re in the content marketing game, you’ve almost certainly heard of these two services. Both are digital advertising platforms that use targeted advertising to place related, sponsored content around and under online articles.

Often, these ads are designed to blend in with a blog’s native recommendations, directing readers to similar blogs, slideshows, and videos that they might be interested in. These platforms can be an excellent aspect of your marketing budget if used properly — it allows for extremely focused targeting based on which websites you place your ads on and the content they accompany.

What’s Changed for Advertisers?

There are pros and cons to this merger when it comes to the digital ad world. On the one hand, Google and Facebook have essentially a duopoly when it comes to online ad buys — with Amazon starting to make some inroads — and the new and improved Taboola’s size and scope will allow it to compete on a more level playing field with the giants.

The potential downside is that without competition in the “content recommendation” space, some publishers are worried that the quality of the ads will suffer. Without these two platforms vying for the same webpage space, quality control may take a backseat.

On the other hand, some publishers say, the two companies will be able to pool their resources. With twice the number of engineers, editors, and salespeople, they’ll be able to filter out lower-quality ads and ensure that only the most useful content makes it through.

What’s Your Strategy?

For content publishers, your strategy won’t have to change much. You’ll still create the same content and target it in the same way, but now there will only be one platform to use. Here’s how to get started:

  • Choose a timeframe — for timeless content, you can set your campaign to run indefinitely. For more news-specific items, you can limit the time scope of the campaign to fade out when it’s no longer relevant. Even better, you can set your ads to only display on certain days of the week or times of the day.
  • Choose a target — this is where the real power of Taboola comes in. You can target your campaigns by location, down to the country, region, state, or zip code. You can choose which devices you want your ads to appear on, including or excluding certain operating systems.
  • You can then narrow down audience criteria by extremely specific categories, including whether they’ve clicked on other campaigns, general interests, in-market propensities, and a wide variety of data from other third-party sources.
  • Set a budget — you can use a simple CPC approach in the $0.50 range, but you might have to experiment to find the right bid for your audience. You can also take a “smart bid” approach using the Taboola pixel on your site, adjusting your bid based on conversions or pageviews.

A New Channel for Advertisers

Taboola placements are all over major news sites and niche blogs alike, providing a perfect way to expand your reach in a highly specific, targeted way. It’s especially useful at reaching audiences at the beginning of your sales cycle, while retargeting people who have already made contact and are considering your product or service.

This merger between Taboola and Outbrain might be big news in the industry, but it shouldn’t affect your marketing strategy too much. In the end, Taboola is just another channel — extremely useful, as long as you know what to do with it.

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