Trust & Authenticity
Our Advertising Guidelines
Here at Outbrain, one of our key differentiators is that our network is filled with high-quality, reliable content from premium publishers and marketers alike. Our overlying goal is to create a great user experience for readers around the world. Happy network, happy readers!
To do this, we’ve developed advertising guidelines to help you understand what can (and cannot) be promoted in our network. Keep in mind, Outbrain reserves the right to reject or block any content for any reason at our sole discretion, even after post-launch, if we feel that it compromises the safety or quality of the user experience. Also, both publishers and marketers can choose to block pages or sources that they don’t feel resonate with their brands.
If you encounter any content that violates Outbrain’s guidelines, or have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out to our friendly Support team.
We hope to see your content in our network soon!
Acceptable Page Types
- Article Pages & Blog Posts
- Earned Media
- Videos (must contain some descriptive text on the page)
- Search Engine Results Pages
- Home Pages
- Product/Landing Pages
- App Download Pages
- Advertorials (with proper disclosure that follow Outbrain’s Advertorial policies)
Abortion and Contraception
- Content related to abortion is prohibited
- Promotion of prophylactics and contraceptives is prohibited
- No promotion or sale of adult products
- Content may not be:
- Overly sexual
- Imply nudity
- Display excessive amounts of skin, cleavage or focus unnecessarily on body parts
- Allude to sexual activity
Controlled or Illegal Substances
- Content cannot promote:
- Ads must not promote the sale or use of illegal, prescription, or recreational drugs.
- Tobacco-related products such as e-cigarettes, cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, vaporizers, hookahs
- Promotion of hemp-based CBD (cannabidiol) products with little to no THC is acceptable in countries where CBD is legal
- Promotion of investments or stocks relating to marijuana is acceptable
- Sites that seek to intentionally deceive the reader into believing something that is not true
- Content designed to deceive the reader into believing that they are reading legitimate editorial content or fact-based news
- Could be a cleverly disguised advertisement (with little or no value afforded to the reader) or a piece of propaganda or a hoax
Hate, Violence, or Discrimination
- Content cannot:
- Defame an individual, organization, or group of people
- Exploit or endanger minors
- Segregate or classify individuals or groups of people by race, religion, ethnicity, sexual origin, color, age, gender identity, family status, disability, or medical condition
- Include the use or promotion of weaponry or explosives
- State a political point of view
High Risk of Fraud
- No content that encourages high-risk investments or money-making schemes with the intention of profiting off user participation (i.e. “Get Rich Quick” Schemes)
- No Payday Loans or Cash Advance Loans
- No Penny Stocks, CFDs, Binary Options, or Forex
- No non-premium TV/Movie streaming boxes (acceptable brands are Mi/Xiaomi, Apple TV, and Amazon Fire stick).
- Tactical flashlights
- No Penny Auctions
- 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
- Content cannot advocate for or promote one religion over another
- No male enhancement or erectile dysfunction products directly sold to consumers
Unsafe Products or Supplements
- No anabolic steroids, ephedra, or HGH (others may be added according to Outbrain's discretion)
- No herbal supplements that mimic the effects of illegal substances
- No weight loss supplements
- No nootropics, 'brain pills', or 'smart drugs' meant to improve cognitive function
Content can promote the sale of alcohol only in countries that allow the sale and advertisement of alcohol. Content must not:
- target minors or display minors consuming alcoholic beverages;
- associate the consumption of alcohol to having health benefits or improving social, sexual, athletic, or professional performance;
- imply excessive drinking or that excessive drinking is therapeutic, relaxing, or stimulating;
- show people under the influence of alcohol;
- emphasize a product’s alcohol strength;
- associate drinking with activities that require a certain level of skill with coordination (e.g. driving or sporting activities);
- use celebrities or people/icons/cartoons or any other image that may be appealing to minors.
Marketers are solely responsible for complying with applicable federal, state and local laws and regulatory guidelines (including age-gating where necessary). As a reminder, marketers are solely responsible for the content that they wish to run in our network.
Dating & Personals
- Content must not promote one-night stands, hook-ups, and sexual encounters
- Content must not promote infidelity or casual sex
Health/Beauty and Cosmetics
- May not make illegitimate or unproven claims about results
- No before/after photos of unlikely results
- May not allude to diagnose, cure, prevent, treat, or reverse any disease, condition, or illness
Financial Services (Restricted)
- Content must comply with financial governing bodies
- Cryptocurrency is not allowed, with the exception of editorial content from premium publisher sites. The following is explicitly not allowed:
- Digital currency exchanges
- Investment and trading advice
- However, selected countries may decide to run cryptocurrency offers that they deem are valid in their country only.
- Content cannot include the promotion of gambling, or be hosted on a site where gambling is facilitated
- No paid Fantasy Sports
- Apps promoting free games is allowed
- Promotion of physical casinos (as a destination) is allowed
- State Run lotteries are allowed
Negative Earned Media
- Direct competitors cannot promote negative earned media or content that defames or otherwise compromises an industry competitor without clear disclosure
- All political content must have clear disclosure (ie. Promoted By [Political Party])
- Personal fundraising for individuals (e.g. raising money for a sick person) is not allowed
- General fundraising for businesses and/or products is acceptable
Landing Page Guidelines
- Clear Disclosure Required:
- “Advertisement” or “Advertorial” must appear clearly and prominently at the top of applicable pages. Disclosures must appear in a placement, color, and font size that is easily read by a reader
- Affiliate marketing sites must clearly disclose any financial relationship between the site and sponsoring advertiser in accordance with governing guidelines
- No Excessive Overlays or Pop-Ups:
- A user must be able to easily close any popup advertisements or overlays that appear in connection with the landing page
- No Misleading Advertising Techniques:
- Fake testimonials
- Fake comments
- “Too good to be true” statements or unsubstantiated claims
- Fake social media icons
- Fake navigation or text/images that make a user think that it is a larger editorial site
- Fake site logos
- Auto refreshing date stamps to the current date
- False 3rd party endorsements by celebrities or others
- False rumors about any person/celebrity
- Scare tactics to encourage users to take a specific action
- Countdown clocks that make a user think the offer expires (when it doesn’t)
- Video player icons that seem to play on the landing page, but instead lead to a different URL.
- If a video appears to play on the landing page, it must do so, and with proper functionality (including pause and mute buttons, as well as a visual indication of the video's length)
- Contact Us link/section
- All landing pages should have a "Contact Us" section with an actual email address, phone number, or physical address. An empty form to email the site owners is not enough.
- Financial landing pages should include an actual physical address.
- Landing pages that are promoted in Germany, Austria, and/or Switzerland (D/A/CH region) must include an Impressum (imprint) as required by the German Telemediengesetz (TMD).
- Health - and finance-related advertorials may require a footer disclaimer. Here are several commonly used examples:
- This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
- Results may vary / may not be typical. Reviews or testimonials may be fictionalized. ['Results may vary' or 'Results may not be typical' should also be placed next to any before/after images on the landing page.]
- This information does not constitute medical advice and it should not be relied upon as such. Consult with your doctor before modifying your regular medical regime.
- This is not considered to be investment advice.
- Testimonials/success stories may be fictionalized / should not be viewed as expected results.
- Content cannot be copied from another site or violate copyrights. Any plagiarized content without clear disclosure of authorship will not be allowed.
- Content should not include trademarks or logos that are confusingly similar in design to that of third parties
- Links in content must be labeled accurately and must link to the page or pages reasonably expected by the reader
- Additional sites may also be required to display the Outbrain widget for all Outbrain referring traffic
- Content must be current and feature up-to-date information
- Landing page must not be a PDF
Headline and Source Guidelines
The following is prohibited:
Inaccurate, Misleading, or Overly Sensational Headlines
- Does not accurately depict the content
- Exaggerates or embellishes the content
- “Too good to be true” headlines (i.e. “One weird trick that will help you lose that belly fat”)
- Contains offensive words in any language
- Employs sexual/violent/explicit language that sensationalizes content
Excessive or Missing Capitalization
- Do not use excessive capitalization within single words, such as in "LEARN MORE." A correct replacement would be "Learn more" or "Learn More."
- It is acceptable to capitalize an entire word if it is a title introducing the content type, such as "VIDEO:" or "PHOTOS:", or if it is a trademarked brand name, an acronym, or a common abbreviation, such as "NASA."
- Always capitalize the first letter of the headline.
- Observe correct verb tenses, subject-verb agreements, and spelling
- Use correct spacing (e.g. no missing or excessive spaces between words or punctuation)
Excessive Punctuation & Symbols
- Refrain from inappropriate, aggressive, or tasteless punctuation in headlines
- Repeated punctuation (i.e. “?!?!”) or symbols are not permitted
- The use of emojis of any kind is prohibited in the titles.
The following is required:
An ad source name (the branding text which appears directly beneath the headline) should accurately disclose the content found on the landing page. This allows readers to understand who is sponsoring the post.
- If the advertiser owns the content landing page, the source name should state the domain name or brand name.
- Example: If a brand promotes the home page from its own site, the source name could read as “BRAND NAME” or as “brandname.com” (domain name).
- If the advertiser does not own the landing page, the name of the advertiser and the domain name should appear in the source name.
- Example: If a brand is promoting an earned media article from CNN Money, the source name should read as follows: “BRAND NAME on CNN Money”.
- Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs): If the landing page hosts a list of sponsored search results, ads should disclose this in the source name. Disclosure should include one of the following: “Sponsored Listings,” “Sponsored Results,” or “Sponsored Links.”
- Example: The source name for a SERP ad showing results for dental implants could read as “Dental Implants - Sponsored Listings”.
- App download pages: Ads that lead to a mobile app download page should not show only the name of the app store in the source name. Instead, the source name should also include either (1) the app title or (2) “Download on” (or a translation of this for the relevant language).
- Example: An English-language ad for an app could use “APP NAME on App Store” or “Download on App Store”. A French-language ad could use “APP NAME sur App Store” or “Téléchargez sur App Store”.
Thumbnail Images (Including Cartoons or Animations) Cannot Include:
- Nudity or sexual imagery
- Drugs or drug paraphernalia
- Imagery that is designed to provoke, offend, or shock
- Circles or Arrows placed to highlight a specific part of the image
- Violence, gore, or dead bodies
- Graphic images of physical deformities or health conditions
- Zoomed in body parts
- Profanity, offensive, or sexually suggestive text
- Before/After Photos
- Politicians/Celebrities for Product Endorsement
- Political or Religious Symbols
- Symbols or Imagery of Hate Speech
Quality & Appearance
- All images must be relevant to the linked content
- Images must be good quality
- Images must be clear, recognizable, and properly oriented
- Images that have been altered with Photoshop or other graphic editing softwares will not be permitted
- GIFs are not permitted
- Images must not include a video player icon
- 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
Additional Guidelines for Publishers
Landing Page User Experience
- Publishers who use Outbrain to drive traffic to their sites may be required to host user experiences that comply with the stated Outbrain content guidelines.
- Inflammatory Political Content
- True Crime stories older than 5 years
- Negative representation of celebrities
- Physical Appearance
- Discrimination of any kind
- “Perfectly-Timed” Photos
Examples of Accepted Categories Include:
- Positive Celebrity Content
- “15 Most Epic Celebrity Photobombs Ever Captured”
- “‘Growing Pains’: 10 Things You Didn’t Know”
- “Gigantic Movies That Are All Coming Out In 2017”
- Positive Sports Content
- “20 Greatest College Football Coaches, Ranked”
- “All Time Greatest MLB Players By Team”
- General Interest Content
- “The 12 Most Expensive Weddings In History”
- “The 10 Best Places to Vacation in the US”
- “Awesomely Aggressive Windshield Notes You Should Totally Steal”
- “Guilty Dogs That Will Have You Laughing For Days”
- “2017: Hardest Colleges to Get Into in America”
- Lifestyle and Beauty Content
- “Age Gracefully With These 21 Classy Hairstyles”
- “17 Cheap & Healthy Dinners That Will Hit the Spot Every Time”
- “Haircut Inspiration: 30+ Gorgeous Short Hairstyles”
- Remove sensational words such as “stuns”, “reveals”, “real reason”, “last words”, “years later”, “you won't believe”, “make your skin crawl”, and “uncovers truth”. Any phrases that are similar should not be used as well.
- Remove suggestive words such as “stunning”, “hottest”, “trophy wives” and “attractive”
- Remove negative words such as “ruined”, “worst”, “disturbing”, “disgusting”, “horrifying”, and “hated”
- Align headlines with the content. For example, "12 things..." when there are actually 40 slides
- Should be relevant and included within the content being promoted
- Should not display excessive amount of skin/cleavage
- Should not display red arrows/circles that are meant to highlight something
- Should not be photoshopped or simply designed to be 'shocking'
- All slideshows should implement one of the following:
- Place [Gallery] at the beginning of the title
- Make the titles obvious that they are a slideshow - Top 10….
- Limit/Shorten the slideshows to 15 slides with at least 5 lines of text on each slide
- If the title mentions a specific celebrity, that celebrity must appear within the first 10 slides of the slideshow.
- Title: Celebrities Sport Armani at the Oscars - Check out Julia Roberts! - [Julia Roberts is in the image wearing a red carpet dress]
- If the title does not mention a specific celebrity, but does display one in the image, that image must appear somewhere in the slideshow
- Title: Best Red Carpet Looks at the Oscars - [Julia Roberts is in the image wearing a red carpet dress]
- News stories in slideshow format should not use headlines to insinuate recent or breaking news if it’s not current
- Refrain from using phrases like “Truth Revealed 10 Years Later”