Outbrain Performance Academy is our global certification course for performance marketers and media professionals. The first Academy launched in Australia in 2016 — and following a roll-out in Havas Paris last year, we were excited to roll out our first U.S. Academy with Ecselis, the performance specialty group within Havas in Chicago last month. It was such a success that we followed up with a session at Havas New York and a third session at Havas Boston.
Why offer this certification?
At Outbrain, part of our mission to invest in the education of a new generation of agency professionals and equip them with the tools, insights, techniques, and best practices required by marketers in the current landscape. Our certification program is an ongoing commitment to educate performance marketers on the benefits of Discovery platforms. And these in-person certification sessions are just the beginning — soon we will be opening up our Academy, so everyone can become an “official” Outbrain certified expert.
Why are performance marketers so excited about Discovery?
Performance marketers find Outbrain especially compelling for our ability to connect the dots between interest and action. Not only can we predict how interest drives engagement, but we analyze how and when engagement drives action. This allows us to interpret the contexts and environments when a customer will be most receptive to a brand message or promotional offer.
Take, for example, the story Outbrain’s Andrew Furman told certification attendees during the Ecselis session. To illustrate how Outbrain’s technology works, he explained that a quick peek into his personal browsing history would likely display a ton of expensive mountain real estate, as it has always been his dream to own a ski house. And yet, even though this may be his dream, the reality is that he has no intention of actually buying any of the houses as none of them are remotely affordable. That’s the key point: while Andrew may enjoy browsing expensive real estate, he has no intent to purchase. And that’s what’s different about Outbrain — our technology is able to take Andrew’s content consumption behavior as a cue to surface a story (not about expensive ski houses) but about a pair of skis that Andrew would purchase.
What did participants come away with?
By the end of the day, we wanted participants to feel confident with four items:
- Defining Discovery and why it is important for driving performance for your brand.
- Describing the differentiators between Discovery, Traditional Native, Search, and Display.
- Understanding Outbrain’s performance solutions and best practices for campaign success.
- Using Outbrain’s platform to set-up, optimize, and report on campaigns tailored to your clients goals.
So, what did the three-hour session look like? First, Andrew Furman and John Ferraro educated the Ecselis media team on how Discovery drives performance. Andrew shared his personal ski house story and updated the teams on Outbrain’s most powerful targeting solutions, including Lookalikes and Custom Audiences. Then, John showed the group case studies to illustrate how these targeting solutions helped brands who used Outbrain achieve a 136% ROI over three years.
Next, Outbrain’s Director of Account Management, Kristina Crocker, shared some best practices for writing headlines and creating images, so Ecselis could immediately start optimizing client campaigns. This was a great set-up for Senior Account Manager, Lizzy Martin, to give a thorough walkthrough of Outbrain’s dashboard.
Then came the certification process: a mock campaign that participants had to optimize using their new skills. (Our quick studies were able to help the fictional Alice’s Auto Parts launch a successful campaign.) The newly-minted graduates celebrated their skills and heard some final nuggets of wisdom from Andrew.
We couldn’t have asked for a better first U.S. Academy session, and we can’t wait to bring this certification to more marketing professionals in more cities.
Interested in getting certified?
Reach out to your account managers and keep an eye out for more news as we continue to roll out new iterations of Outbrain Performance Academy.