|Yaron Galai, David Kostman, CO-CEO|
|Products||Content Discovery Platform|
Number of employees
Outbrain is a content distribution platform that runs natively on websites. It displays links to the sites' pages in addition to sponsored content, generating revenue from the latter.
Outbrain is a native advertising company. It uses targeted advertising to recommend articles, slideshows, blog posts, photos or videos to a reader. Some of the content recommended by Outbrain link to publisher's own content, while others link to other sites. Those other sites pay Outbrain for clicks, and Outbrain pays the publisher on which the links appeared.
Outbrain first marketed its content discovery platform in 2006.
It was founded by Yaron Galai and Ori Lahav, who were both officers in the Israeli Navy. Galai sold his company Quigo to AOL in 2007 for $363 million. Lahav worked at Shopping.com, acquired by eBay in 2005.
The company is headquartered in New York with 13 global offices in London, San Francisco, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Paris, Munich, Milan, Madrid, Tokyo, São Paulo, Netanya, Singapore, and Sydney.
The company, as of 2014, had undergone five rounds of funding for a total of $99 million and is backed by Index Ventures, Carmel Ventures, Gemini Israel Funds, GlenRock Israel, Rhodium, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and HarbourVest Partners. HarbourVest Partners led Outbrain's most recent round of funding in October 2013, raising $35 million.
Outbrain has acquired four companies—related content recommendation platform, Surphace (February 2011), content curation platform, Scribit (December 2012), and predictive analytics company, Visual Revenue (March 2013). In early 2016, Outbrain acquired technology company Revee. In July 2017 Outbrain acquired Zemanta. In February 2019 Outbrain acquired Ligatus.
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Outbrain pays publishers to put its links on their sites. External sites that employ the traffic acquisition service pay on a daily pay-per-click or cost-per-click basis with links to third-party content appearing as recommendations alongside editorial content from the web's biggest publishers. Approximately half of that revenue is paid to the site which presented the Outbrain link.
Brands and publishers, for example, Newsmedia websites, are able to engage their audience on-site by surfacing their own editorial content that they have published in the past, displayed conspicuously as "You May Also Like..." or "We Recommend" often leading unsuspecting users into thinking of click-bait advertisements as original editorial content. These take the form of tracked links that are routed through Outbrain's servers. The Outbrain "From Around the Web" tool also provides a way for publishers to buy and sell traffic by providing third-party links to remotely relevant and unverified content.
Outbrain has often been compared with competitor Taboola. One way that Outbrain claims to distinguish itself from Taboola is that it tries to pre-filter spammy links before displaying them, whereas Taboola has a feature called Taboola Choice, where users can offer feedback on what recommendations they do not like.
In November 2012, in response to criticism of it for showing spam links, Outbrain decided to cut off showing spam links and stated that doing so would cause it a 25% revenue cut, but that it was important for its long-term reputation with publishers and users. However, there has been continued criticism of the quality of recommendations offered by Outbrain.
In August 2014, an article in Fortune noted the fierce competition between Taboola and Outbrain and both of their problems with spam recommendations and nearly all their clients promoting known scams.
In a 2016 episode of a British stand-up comedy show, Dave Gorman: Modern Life is Goodish, the comic ridiculed Outbrain for displaying a link to an article that suggested the falsehood that Tim Allen had died at the bottom of an otherwise reputable online newspaper. He went on to criticize the article that the link led to, which did not match the advertisement in its content. He compared the newspaper displaying inaccurate Outbrain-advertised articles to himself mocking the newspaper while a footnote reading "opinion of Barry" appeared at the bottom, suggesting that unless the newspaper acknowledged they claimed Tim Allen had died, they could not claim that he insulted them.
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