Native Advertising Networks: Taboola vs. Outbrain vs. AdNow

The challenges that face content creators on the Internet — whether they’re bloggers, vloggers, or podcasters — boil down to two fundamental factors: getting traffic and monetizing that traffic. These are no easy hurdles to overcome and there is always the opportunity to attract more traffic or to monetize that traffic more effectively.

Combining these two critical elements together into one cohesive, attractive and engaging package is native advertising. It’s here, it’s huge and it’s only going to get bigger.

What Is Native Advertising?

The concept of native advertising is hardly new, having existed for years in a just about every media format ever created. If you’ve ever seen an “advertorial” in your local newspaper, then you’ve been exposed to native advertising. However, with the recent trends and massive ROI with native advertising online, they are just about everywhere — even on hugely successful sites and brands like Entrepreneur. (as seen below)


In the broadest sense, native advertising is any paid media placement that is made to look and feel like the main content in which the advertisement is placed. An advertorial is a good example of this. One of the fastest growing trends, though, is the “recommended reading” (or similar) widget that may appear toward the end of an article on a website or blog. Such advertising and content is often created around attention-grabbing images, headlines, and current events. MGID even released their own results on the “most clickable celebrities” as a result of impressions and clicks served through their network.

These widgets usually appear as a series of square-shaped thumbnails and titles that link to other articles and content on the Internet. In theory, it’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved and three of the biggest networks offering these widgets are Taboola, Outbrain, and AdNow.

If you still aren’t 100% sure on the concept or would like to learn more about how to create an effective native advertising campaign for your site or business, this beginners guide to native advertising is a great place to start.



If you’re looking for a cost effective way to get featured on some really high profile websites on the Internet, Taboola should be one of the first considerations. Among its publishing partners are such notable names as MSN, AOL, NBC, Time Warner Cable, Business Insider, USA today and CBS Interactive. The reverse is also true, as content providers like Netflix and The Atlantic use Taboola to promote their own content.

A fairly significant advantage that Taboola offers is the ability to maintain full editorial control over what content is promoted on your site. If you see an article, thumbnail or title that doesn’t fit with your editorial standards, you can utilize Taboola Choice to remove that content. You can also explain why — uninteresting, misleading, offensive, repetitive, or other — so that similar content doesn’t re-appear in the future.

In addition to the main Taboola product, there is also an AdSense/AdWords-like marketplace built into the system called Taboola-X. Using a “real-time bidding environment,” Taboola-X presents an additional opportunity to monetize your web content.


  • Over 1 billion global uniques monthly
  • Many major publishing partners
  • Slightly higher average CPC for publishers


  • Higher minimum budget for advertisers
  • Can be difficult for smaller sites to get approved
  • Partners can be “clickbait” in nature
  • Questionable relevance



For quite some time, the Outbrain name was synonymous with native advertising the same way that Kleenex is to facial tissue and Q-tips are to cotton swabs. Today, Outbrain and Taboola compete on a much more level playing field. Both offering a very similar product.

An overriding objective that Outbrain has, however, is its utter focus on bringing “together premium publishers and marketers of all sizes.” They focus heavily on content quality and can be more stringent on who is allowed into the system either as a publisher or as an advertiser. Notable names include Huggies, Visa, CNN, ESPN, The Washington Post and ABC News.

Outbrain reaches over 500 million global uniques every month, covering publishers and marketers in over 55 countries around the world. This is smaller than the reach of Taboola at this point, but Outbrain offers stricter adherence to editorial content, whereas Taboola is more relaxed about product landing pages masquerading as editorial content.


  • Dedication to higher quality content
  • Very well-known brand
  • Robust analytics and geo-targeting


  • Higher minimum deposit for advertisers
  • Targeting features not as robust as Facebook
  • Slightly lower CPC for publishers overall
  • Can be difficult to get approval



Another native advertising network to consider is AdNow. It may be true that Taboola and Outbrain are currently the bigger names in the native advertising space, but this certainly does not mean that AdNow should be ignored.

In fact, the raw numbers at AdNow are certainly nothing to scoff about. Between the 150,000+ publishers and 1,700+ advertisers in 107 countries around the world, AdNow serves up 140 million impressions a day. The ad placements can be more product-oriented, however, with such partners as Amazon, eBay, PeerFly and Matomy (formerly Text Link Ads).

Publishers will appreciate the level of control they can exercise over the look, feel and size of the AdNow widget on their websites. You can control how many creatives are contained in each row or column, for example, further adjusting the size of each thumbnail, as well as the font type and size of the teaser text.

It is not immediately clear what requirements AdNow has for both its publishers and its advertisers since it approves partners on a manual basis. It does appear to be more accepting of sites with more modest numbers than Taboola and Outbrain, so it can be a good place to start for many webmasters.


  • Weekly payments for publishers
  • Good customization for ad widgets
  • Growing number of partners and publishers
  • Lower minimum deposit threshold for advertisers


  • Many product-based marketing partners
  • Lesser known brand/company
  • Inability to manually filter inappropriate ads

A Revenue Source with Big Potential

Overcoming the signal-to-noise ratio on the Internet has become more difficult than ever before. There are so many new websites churning out so much more content each and every day. It’s hard to get noticed. And once you get the visitor on your site, it can be more difficult to maximize the revenue generated too.

With more users exhibiting higher levels of “banner blindness” than ever before, native advertising is filling a niche that both publishers and advertisers can appreciate. With the effective CPC ranging around the 25 cent range, it is both lucrative enough for the website owner and affordable enough for the marketer.

Between AdNow, Outbrain, and Taboola, you should be able to find a native advertising network that best suits your particular needs. Content discovery is here to stay and these are three of the best options available today.

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