10 Outbrain Tips For Ecommerce Advertisers To Scale Profitably

Want to make native ads work for your ecommerce brand? Discover 10 amazing Outbrain tips to help you scale profitably on premium publishers across the open web.
outbrain tips

Here are 10 amazing Outbrain tips straight from the native advertising pros.

All in an attempt to help get your ecommerce brand to scale faster and profitably on high-quality publishers across the open web.

Number 9 works like magic.

Curious to know more? Read along.

1. This Isn´t Facebook Ads

Ecommerce advertisers that have been using Facebook ads for a while, tend to struggle on native platforms like Outbrain.

The most common reason is the “copy-paste” approach. What´s wrong with this approach? Let me explain.

Facebook users go to the platform to get entertained and connect with friends.

Users on publishers´ sites want to discover content.

A direct-response cold traffic ad straight to a product page will almost always not convert on native platforms. On the other hand, we know it´s quite easy to succeed with this strategy, on Facebook.

Besides user intent, perhaps, the biggest difference between Outbrain and Facebook ads is targeting.

facebook vs outbrain tips
Comparison of the Fashion interest on Facebook and Outbrain platforms.

On Facebook, interests are still king. Not such much on Outbrain and many other native ad platforms, since broad targeting typically performs better.

Another big difference between Facebook and Outbrain is on the creatives side.

A social and native ad comparison from Babbel, a top subscription-based language learning app.

Here´s what you should keep in mind.

User behavior is different and so should be your strategy to invest in Outbrain or any other native platform.

2. Don´t Just Think About Sales

I know this might sound crazy but hear me out for a second.

Most advertisers are like amateur fishermen, on a little boat trying to catch the easiest and nearest fish to the shore.
The best advertisers, however, at the least the ones who profit long-term, also spend time in deep waters, patiently waiting for a big catch.

Top advertisers focus on getting sales but spend as much or even more time creating interest for their brand.
In reality, they know the biggest opportunities lie outside the “ready-to-buy” waters, within a certain ocean, or market.

Awareness

Consideration

Conversion

Content

  • How-to article

  • Brand story video

  • Product tips

  • Product comparison 

  • Influencer review

  • User testimonial

Goal

Get people familiar with your brand and build remarketing audiences

Help the audience decide which product might work best for them

Prove that your product is the only and best choice for that person at that moment

All of this means you should adopt a full-funnel strategy when advertising on native platforms, in this case, Outbrain.

3. Starting Small Almost Always Fails

You´ve probably come across a social or native advertising agency that promised tons of sales and huge ROAS. The same “professionals” probably also told you that you could get started with little.

It reminds me of certain people in the investing arena.

While this sounds very good, it often leads to disaster. It certainly does with Outbrain native ads for ecommerce.

This might sound counterintuitive but anyone that tells you to put less than $100 per day on native platforms, either wants your money really bad or doesn´t know what they´re talking about.

outbrain tips budget

Remember the good old $1 a day Facebook strategy made famous by Dennis Yu?

That was a great one.
I´ve used it successfully many times and you probably did too, at some point. Try to do that on Outbrain. Well, you can´t. The minimum budget is $20 per day.

On some platforms such as MGID or Revcontent, the minimum daily budget is $100.

Native Platform

Minimum Daily Budget

$1

$6

$20

$100

$100

Now, why is that? You might be wondering.

The main reason is that native widget technology uses different algorithms than Facebook or Google. Therefore, it needs more breathing room to optimize and typically takes longer to see results.

Outbrain´s bidding strategies are very powerful. But remember to give them enough budget and time to properly optimize.

By the way, just because some platforms allow you to spend as little as $1, doesn´t mean you will get the best results possible. 99% of the time, on native, you won´t.

Most advertisers are like amateur fishermen, on a little boat trying to catch the easiest and nearest fish to the shore.

4. Leverage 1st Party Data To Engage

Riding on the back of third-party data to succeed as a digital advertiser is no longer a reality.

The demise of third-party cookies was a nightmare for some and a heaven for others. A small portion of companies have managed this change beautifully and created new opportunities.

One of those companies is Outbrain.

In February 2022, Outbrain launched a new AI performance optimization solution called Engagement Bid Strategy (EBS).

This innovative solution allows advertisers to optimize campaigns without relying on any third-party data. All you need is a Google Analytics account.

EBS is the perfect strategy for mid-funnel native advertising tactics. Specifically, it can be used to drive traffic to branded content or blog posts and engage audiences that can be retargeted on other campaigns.

outbrain tips bidding

This bidding strategy gives you the flexibility to optimize for the following KPIs:

  1. Max clicks
  2. Max pages per session
  3. Max session duration

One of the winning native ad strategies for ecommerce is to drive folks to How-To articles.

A footwear brand for example can use an article titled “How To Ankle Boots For All Occasions” to build a remarketing segment for those visitors and even convert some of that traffic straight away.

You´re probably already doing it on other platforms.

When we compare Outbrain vs Facebook ads, there are only a few things that you can copy from social to native. Taking advantage of trends in the market and launching seasonal promotions is one of them.

Statista is one of the world´s most credible sources of marketing, consumer data, and trends. You can get access to a wide range of stats for free.
For more in-depth research and stats, you´ll have to invest in a paid plan.

Pandemic trends reported by Statista as it relates to ecommerce sales in the United States.

A good free tool to keep an out for trends is actually Google Trends.

Not as detailed as Statista but it helps to understand where the market is shifting in terms of searches, interests and topics.

Nevertheless, Google is the largest search engine in the world. Most of the earth´s population uses it to search for solutions to problems.

Google Trends is often underutilized as a media planning and market research tool.

You can also take a look at what the biggest brands in your industry are launching new. That research will give you a sense of what consumers that could be a good fit for your brand want.

When it comes to seasonality, make sure you use as many holidays as possible as an excuse to throw a sale.

If you ship internationally, take advantage of other countries´ holidays or festive dates as well.

6. Understand Your Buyer´s Mental State

Not all traffic is equal. Ever heard this saying? You probably have.

Many ecommerce advertisers mix and match their audiences like a morning fruit shake. This is a sure-fire way to get poor results on any platform, but particularly on Outbrain publishers.

Remember that Outbrain is a content discovery platform. Understanding your buyer´s mental state is crucial. Because it will help you guide the entire native ad strategy.

Here´s how your ecommerce buyers can be categorized:

  1. “Just browsing” – these are folks who are not necessarily interested in buying anything at the moment, they´re simply trying to discover interesting content.
  2. “I´m looking” – at this stage, people have an idea of what they want but haven´t found the right solution or product.
  3. “Not yet” – a part of your audience has demonstrated interest to buy but either forgot or put it off for later.

In terms of headlines and content, this is what your strategy might look like.

"Just Browsing"

"I´m Looking"

"Not Yet"

How To Wear Casual Shirts In Style Anywhere

The Best Casual Shirts For Hot Weather

25% Off Your Favorite Casual Shirts Today

5 Little Known Tips To Sleep Like An Angel

Which Mattress Type Is Best For You?

Grab This "Heaven Sleep" Coupon Or You´ll Regret Later

Health Experts Say This Water Can Do Miracles

The Best Places To Buy Alkaline Water In Miami

The Ultimate Alkaline Pack: $49 Today $119 Tomorrow

I just made these up on the spot but I think you get the point. Your headline message and content will be different depending on where your audience is, mentally.

The last thing you want is to create content or ads randomly without understanding your prospect´s mental state. This will give you sort of a framework to help you create predictable results.

On Facebook, interests are still king. Not such much on Outbrain and many other native ad platforms, since broad targeting typically performs better.

7. Follow Key Campaign Best Practices

Every game has rules.

You play by the rules and you have a chance to win. Violate them and you´ll most certainly lose. Advertising on Outbrain is no different.

Here are some crucial best practices you must follow to get maximum results.

Campaign Structure

Separate campaigns by:

  • Product line
  • Traffic temperature
  • GEO
  • Device

Limit your ads to 10 per campaign and send traffic to branded content to engage and segment cold audiences.

Creative And Copy

  • Use Outbrain´s title suggestions feature
  • Portrait images work better
  • Use calls to action buttons for conversion campaigns
  • Ask questions in the headline
  • Call out the avatar in the headline
  • Use numbered lists in the headline
  • Negative keywords perform better than positive

As part of the discussion on Outbrain tips, we´ve included this infographic from the folks who´ve actually built the platform.

We also have a separate article dedicated to Outbrain native ads best practices where you´ll see an in-depth explanation of each point.

8. Let Influencers Do The Selling

This has been one of the most popular strategies for brands. A study shows that 61% of consumers trust influencers´ recommendations.

It´s not surprising to see 9 out of every 10 marketers these days using influencer marketing in the strategy.

With the increase in influencer marketing adoption, we can wonder how many brands are actually doing it the wrong way.
That´s certainly not the case with Ogee, a top luxury skincare brand.

Ogee´s landing page shows well-known influencers reviewing different products.

You might already be using influencer marketing for social media. It can work as well if not better on platforms such as Outbrain.

However, for native, it´s best to use editorial-style landing pages that offer not just the product but tips on how to use them, similar to this example from Ogee.

9. Use Bundles To Boost AOV

Even on the top native advertising platforms, it can take longer to see results, compared to social media, for example.

Many ecommerce brands struggle here. They can´t seem to at least break even no matter how hard they try.

In most cases, the root of the problem is a low average order value. What about the solution?
Bundles!

Product bundling, according to the experts, is the all-time best pricing strategy for ecommerce. This strategy not only makes sense for businesses but also for consumers.

The grouping of items shifts people´s attention off of individual pricing. This makes bundles have high perceived value in the consumer´s mind.

Back to our previous example, Ogee.

Ogee´s Color Trio bundle starts with a testimonial and announces a discount for the set.

When you advertise a $120 bundle vs a $52 product, your ability to acquire a customer more than doubles, instantly. This makes scaling ad spend much easier.

Plus, you´ll most likely get a better customer because they now use 3 of your products, instead of just one, in this case.

10. Re-Engage With Dynamic Retargeting

One of Outbrain´s best features is dynamic retargeting pixels.

You might be familiar with these from other platforms, such as Facebook or Google shopping.

Outbrain´s dynamic remarketing setup instructions.

This feature is a must-use if you have a large inventory or operate many different product lines.

I´d recommend you set up the Outbrain pixel through Google Tag Manager, as it´s a lot easier to manage all your tracking.

After that, all you have to do is connect your product feed.

The Dynamic retargeting option can be found in the Advanced placements and targeting when setting up a campaign.

When it´s time to launch your remarketing campaign, make sure to toggle on the Dynamic retargeting option in the campaign creation screen.

The grouping of items shifts people´s attention off of individual pricing. This makes bundles have high perceived value in the consumer´s mind.

Outbrain Tips For Ecommerce: Where To Start

There you have it. 10 Outbrain tips to help scale your ecommerce brand on premium publishers.

Now, the question is: where to start?

This might not be what you want to hear.

But I´d recommend starting with the hardest part. Which is creating some kick-ass offers, for example, using the bundle strategy. Also, reach out to top influencers who would be willing to endorse your product.

The stronger offers and more social proof you can have, the better your native campaigns will perform.

Back to you, which of these Outbrain tips did you find most useful?

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