Trust & Authenticity
our content guidelines
We believe in the power of storytelling.
We believe that our stories are what connect us.
They give shape and form to the human experience. They allow us to see the world in an unexpected way. And at Outbrain, we can't get enough of them.
We are readers, creators, and consumers living in the exploding world of digital media.
We're driven by our desire to find the next great story: one that will excite and change us. One created by quality publishers and brands who are testing the limits of storytelling. One driven by authenticity, and not dollars.
And we believe that finding that next best thing should be intuitive, seamless, and personalized.
We want to help your next great story find you.
Welcome to Outbrain’s content guidelines. We define content as any article, video, slideshow, infographic, or earned media that offers informational and/or entertainment value to the reader outside of information about the product or service. We do not accept commercials, infomercials, advertising copy, or self-promotional content. Below, you’ll find more specifics on what we will and will not accept.
Outbrain partners with trustworthy individuals, publishers, brands, and agencies who are passionate about authenticity and creating a great user experience. Please note that Outbrain reserves the right to reject any content for any reason at our sole discretion. While we may not identify problematic content before it goes live, content will be blocked post-launch if we feel it compromises the safety, positivity, and/or quality of our network. In addition, any content linked to from the Outbrain service that is not identical to the content submitted to Outbrain for pre-approval shall be immediately removed. Further, our distribution partners may choose to block specific pages or entire sources. If any marketer is blocked by a significant portion of our publisher network, Outbrain may choose to terminate their campaigns. Any advertiser who repeatedly violates our guidelines will be blocked from the Outbrain network.
- Affiliate Marketing & Sponsored Content
We accept authentic, value-adding sponsored content and affiliate marketing with editorial substance beyond mere promotion of a product or service, and where there is clear and conspicuous disclosure of true author and ownership. Advertorials are not permitted. Any financial relationship between the host site and sponsoring advertiser must be disclosed in accordance with FTC guidelines. Content sponsored by and linked to from host site will be subject to the same scrutiny and guidelines as that of the entire Outbrain network. This content will be considered on a case by case basis.
Affiliate marketing sites must adhere to the following guidelines:
- As with all content on Outbrain’s network, affiliate sites must provide clear informational or entertainment value to the user beyond promotion or information of the product or service
- Any affiliate links must be within the context of the content and provide value
- Affiliate sites that use misleading editorial practices or whose sole purpose is to link or redirect traffic to the parent company or to a different site will not be allowed
Sponsored content must not employ misleading techniques, including but not limited to:
- Using trademarks/logos of known brands without their express permission
- Hosting content on a domain that misleads the user
- Using fake comments that appear to be from real individuals
- Employing unsubstantiated claims to promote a product/service
- Prohibited Content
- Pornographic language or imagery
- Suffering or violence
- Exploitation or endangerment of minors
- Weapons or explosives
- Illegal drugs or tobacco (including e-cigarettes)
- Non-government approved pharmaceuticals and supplements
- Class-action suits or malpractice claims
High-Risk Investments or Business Scams
- Promotes businesses that engage in deceptive or misleading practices
- Encourages high risk investments or money making schemes with the intention of profiting off user participation
- Harvests personal and/or confidential information from users with the intent to distribute
- Engages in lead generation with the purpose of generating profit off the sale of information gathered
- Contains adware, malware, spyware, virus, Trojan horses or other features designed to infiltrate or damage computer systems or access personally identifiable user information without explicit user consent
Misleading Advertorial Practices
- Site-wide advertorial disclosure
- Limited or no organic navigation on site
- “Shell” sites that employ deceptive editorial practices to redirect users to a parent site
- Duplicates or mirrors ad-copy and images from other advertorial sites to give the impression of an editorial presence
- Employs deceptive practices to encourage readers to sign up for continuity newsletters or products
- Publishers are not permitted to encourage accidental clicks by implementing ads that appear to be organic content, such as navigation or download links
Negative Earned Media
- Direct competitors cannot promote negative earned media or content that defames or otherwise compromises an industry competitor without clear disclosure.
- Promotes hate, violence or discrimination
- Defames an individual, organization, or group of people
- Segregates or classifies individuals or groups of people by race, religion, or sexuality
- Restricted Content
Outbrain reserves the right to block content from the following groups and categories. Restrictions may vary depending on the region your campaign targets, the value provided to the reader, and the quality of the content. These categories have a higher rate of deceptive business practices and have received a significant number of complaints in the network. Therefore, these categories are subject to greater scrutiny. Submissions will be handled on a case-by-case basis.
- Adult: Content that is explicitly sexual in nature
- Alcohol: Content that promotes underage or irresponsible drinking; sites that enable the sale of alcoholic beverages
- Financial services: Content must comply with financial governing bodies; content cannot use scare tactics or false statistics to encourage investments; all financial claims must be backed up with proven research
- Health services: Promoted products and services must be FDA approved when appropriate; products and services may not make illegitimate or unproven claims about results. Weight-loss, muscle-building, and anti-aging products are very rarely accepted.
- Negative Earned Media: Direct competitors cannot promote negative earned media or content that defames or otherwise compromises an industry competitor without clear disclosure.
- Political advertisements: All political content must have clear disclosure (ie. Promoted By [Political Party])
- Overly personal or niche content: Content must have broad cultural appeal and/or be of value to more than just content creator
- Religion: Content cannot advocate for or promote one religions over another; publishers may also choose to block content from religious domains.
- Subscriber-only content
- User Experience
Content should provide a positive, value-adding experience for users.
- Ads should not disrupt the content
- Submissions may not contain exit popups
- Content must not spawn popup advertisements that cannot be closed, page takeovers, or other media that covers or hides portions of the content
- Content cannot contain link-backs to low-quality content to boost SEO
- No hidden text or links
- No advertorials
- Content cannot be copied from another site, using techniques such as “mirroring.” Any plagiarized content without clear disclosure of authorship will not be allowed.
- Content must clearly display logo of website
- Content should illustrate a clear understanding of the intended subject matter
- Must not mislead or deceive the reader
- No grainy or improperly formatted images
- No illegible fonts or copy
- No improper spelling or capitalization
- No incorrect language or grammar
- Coherence in structure
- We do not accept traditional advertisements or commercials, including banner ads or 30-second commercial spots that end in a call-to-action to promote the sale of a product or service
- We do not accept home pages, directory listings, product pages, press releases, or general navigation pages
- Content must live on HTML page (no PDFs)
- Content cannot require a login for access
- Content must be the primary focus of the page and live above the fold. Calls-to-action, forms or sales copy must not detract from the content itself.
- Page must contain clear organic navigation, including but not limited to easily locatable Contact and About Us pages
- News content older than 14 days cannot be added to our network
- Other categories of content can be rejected or disabled based on timeliness at Outbrain’s discretion
- Headline Restrictions
When creating additional titles for your content, please ensure all new titles accurately reflect the tone and subject matter of your content. Headlines will be rejected if they attempt to mislead or falsely entice readers.
Outbrain also reserves the right to reject headlines for the following quality, tonality, and style infractions:
Inaccurate or Misleading headlines
- Does not accurately depict the content
- Exaggerates or embellishes the content
Sensational or Salacious headlines
- Sexual/violent/explicit language that sensationalizes content
- “Pimp sues Nike for not warning shoes could be dangerous if used to beat people”
- “Wait until you see the secret account the rich and powerful use to keep their money hidden from the gov’t”
- “Prepare for Massive Wealth Destruction (Shocking Video!)”
Aggressive Marketing or Sales language
- Specific and/or clearly unrealistic price points (eg. “Free”)
- “The Secret to Getting Best-Selling Books for Free”
- “Must-Have Products Being Sold for Next to Nothing”
- “This 1 weird “loophole” has become the car insurance companies worst nightmare!”
“Too good to be true” headlines
- If it sounds too good to be true, it is
- “One weird trick that will help you lose that belly fat”
- “Mom reveals clever $4 wrinkle therapy, makes doctors furious”
- “Pastor Reveals a ‘Biblical Money Code’ – Turns $40,000 into $396,000 (Shocking)”
Calls to action
- Registration pleas, sales offers
- “CLICK NOW to find out which new driving rule has drivers shocked!”
- “Call Travis Sickle 813-868-8725 Your Local Ameriprise Advisor”
- Headline Style Guide
Please adhere to the following grammar, punctuation, and style regulations when submitting titles.
- Capitalize the first word of the title/heading and of any subtitle/subheading
- Capitalize all major words in the title, including the second part of hyphenated major words (e.g., Self-Report not Self-report)
- No excessive capitalization or inter-capitalization, such as words or phrases in all capitals (exceptions include trademarked brand names, acronyms, and common abbreviations)
- Observe correct verb tenses, subject-verb agreements, and spelling
- Use correct spacing (e.g. no missing or excessive spaces between words or punctuation)
Punctuation & Symbols
- Refrain from inappropriate, aggressive, or tasteless punctuation in headlines
- Do not use periods at the end of headlines
- Repeated punctuation (?!?!) or symbols are not permitted
- Do not include a price point in headlines
- Image Guidelines
Any images being promoted in Outbrain’s widget must meet the following standards of network appropriateness.
Thumbnail images cannot include:
- Nudity or sexual imagery
- Drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Imagery that is designed to provoke or offend
- Graphic violence or gore
Quality & Appearance
All images must be relevant to the linked content. Images must be clear, recognizable, and properly oriented. Images that have been altered with Photoshop or other graphic editing softwares will not be permitted.
“Trick to Click”
Images cannot employ deceptive practices to entice a user to click. These include:
- Images that pretend to be a system or site warning
- Images that use sensational tactics that are not relevant to the source material
- Images that mimic editorial content of the host page