National Positions has been providing access to Outbrain for brands in South Africa (and across Africa) for the past few years and this question of effectiveness of the Outbrain platform verses other native content platforms & formats has always eluded us.
Now it seems that the team at Start A Fire have researched the engagement levels of brand content on Outbrain and Facebook with interesting (and based on our 'gut feel' correct) results. The article is reproduced below ore can be read here.
Content is king, but who reigns supreme when it comes to getting real reader engagement?
Most of our time, whether on mobile or laptop, is spent consuming content. Brands understand that and leverage it by producing and publishing content. This helps increase their brand awareness, guide our opinions, and improves their own market position.
However, producing and publishing content isn’t enough, and brands must also distribute the content they have produced.This is where content marketing platforms such as Taboola, Outbrain, Facebook, Pinterest, RevContent, ZergNet and many more come into play.
Great brands get free content. You can see it in forms of rave product reviews, comparisons or stories about its great culture.Therefore, it’s logical for brands to put some effort in promoting positive stories, or in our terms “Earned Content”.
Brands are spending a significant amount of their marketing budgets to promote earned content stories, but they are blind to the actual performance of those campaigns. Since brands don’t “own” this content or have access to its analytics, the brands can’t know if people are actually reading its sponsored content or not. They are in the blind and can’t calculate campaign ROI.
However, that has recently changed with Start A Fire earned content analytics. In the past couple of months, Start A Fire handled hundreds of campaigns with multiple traffic sources and conducted the first research comparing campaign performance by traffic source over multiple campaigns, by different brands.
The first question was which content do people read more? Content that was promoted on Outbrain or Facebook?
The research compared thousands of articles from different brands that were promoted both on Facebook and Outbrain over the past few weeks and discovered that on average users spend 45% more time on promoted Outbrain articles compared to articles that were promoted on Facebook. The average difference of 45% is a significant gap. It can be the difference between reading the headline to reading the article. More time on page means that users are actually consuming more content, while for the brand it means more exposure. As a result, the data shows a direct correlation between time spent on the page to page scroll depth.
Adding the fact that on tested campaigns Outbrain’s cost per click was significantly lower than Facebook. The simple conclusion for these brands is to choose Outbrain’s solution over Facebook for promoting content. But as always it’s still worth evaluating each campaign before making a choice.
Facebook organic content performed better than its sponsored content, but Outbrain’s sponsored content still performed better with 23% on average more time on page. In comparison to other social media solutions, Facebook organic posts performed best. On average, when comparing the same article’s average time on page across different social media platforms, users who originated from Facebook spent 28% more time compared to Pinterest and 53% more time compared to Twitter, which showed the weakest performance.