Outbrain Best Practices

10 DIY Tips to Launch Your First Outbrain Campaign

Sydney Davis
Sydney Davis
Dana Wicnudel
Dana Wicnudel
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This post was updated on March 2, 2022.

So, you’ve decided to try native advertising for your latest campaign. Luckily for you, setting up your first campaign with Outbrain is quick and easy. Before you dive in, we have some important tips to help you maximize your campaign’s potential from the very beginning. Consider this your roadmap for a successful first launch with Outbrain.

1. It’s all about the conversions

As a performance marketer, you’re naturally focused on hitting your conversion goals.

You should begin by implementing the Outbrain pixel on your site, which is the first step to setting up conversion tracking. We recommend applying the pixel across your entire site, as this paints the most comprehensive picture of your user engagement and will better position you to guide customers through the conversion funnel.

When setting up your conversions, you will see two types to choose from:

  • URL-based conversions, which track  when a user lands on a specific URL, such as a purchase followed by an order confirmation page,
  • Event-based conversions, which track when a user completes a particular action not indicated by a specific URL, such as spending 30 seconds on your site. 

It’s helpful to map a variety of conversions that are both URL- and event-based, and are scattered throughout the funnel. The more data (and data variety) you have to work with, the better. 

Also, it’s important to mention here that implementing the pixel and mapping conversions will also enable our powerful auto-optimization tool, Conversion Bid Strategy. More on that below.

2. Establish your bid strategy from the start 

Amplify offers two bid strategy tools that leverage intelligent algorithms to automatically optimize your campaigns toward your predefined goals throughout the funnel.

  • Conversion Bid Strategy (CBS): When you choose “Conversions” or “App Installs” as your campaign objective, you’ll automatically opt into CBS. Rather than simply optimizing your campaign toward clicks, CBS automatically adjusts bidding in real-time toward top-converting inventory and audiences, all based on your specific goals. If you’re looking to drive lower-funnel conversions while adhering to other benchmarks (such as ROAS or CPA), this is the perfect tool for you.
    • You can choose the CBS mode that best aligns with your objectives: Fully Automatic, Semi Automatic, Target CPA, or Target ROAS. Whichever you select, that CBS mode can be activated at the start of your very first campaign, and our system will simply base optimizations on Outbrain network data until it has enough campaign conversion data from your end. Just sit back, relax, and let CBS do the heavy lifting.

  • Engagement Bid Strategy (EBS): When you choose “Traffic” as your objective, you’ll automatically opt into EBS. This mid-funnel bid strategy utilizes machine learning technology while ingesting your first-party website analytics data to automatically optimize your campaign to reach your most attentive and engaged audiences, at the best cost.
    • There are currently two EBS modes: Pages Per Session (number of web pages viewed) and Session Duration (time spent on your site). In order to activate these modes, you must integrate your Google Analytics account to start pulling in your first-party data. Once you select one of these EBS modes, the dashboard will provide steps to lead you through the integration process.

Both our bid strategy tools take the heavy lifting off your plate while driving long-term outcomes and prioritizing user privacy, thus reducing Outbrain’s reliance on third-party cookies.

3. Separate your campaigns by device

We strongly recommend splitting up your campaigns by device due to a few factors.

First, CPCs vary by device, and creating separate campaigns will allow you to customize your bidding based on whether you’re serving on mobile, desktop, or tablet. 

Second, we tend to see higher CTRs on mobile/tablet versus desktop. With this in mind, Outbrain’s algorithms may prioritize mobile/tablet traffic over desktop when both are included in the same campaign. Splitting up your campaigns by device will avoid this. 

By evaluating your campaign performance in a device-specific manner, you’ll be able to allocate your budget more effectively, adjust your CPCs accordingly, and better elevate your performance, ultimately resulting in richer post-campaign insights.

4. Is your reach broad enough?

Always keep an eye on the Potential Reach Estimator on the right-hand side of your dashboard. This will give you a sense of how many users are within your audience based on the applied targeting. As a general guideline, most successful campaigns we see have a reach of several million.

Please note that the more targeting types you add to your campaign, the narrower your reach will become, which can subsequently raise your CPCs and negatively impact results. That being said, fight the urge to layer on tons of audience targeting – it does more harm than good.

5. Create new campaigns rather than adjusting existing ones

If you want to change up your audience targeting or test something new, try creating an entirely new campaign versus editing an existing one. Launching from scratch acts as somewhat of a reboot, allowing your new campaign to go through our exploration phase with its new targeting parameters to generate its own learnings.

Don’t worry – creating a new campaign doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch! By using our Duplicate Campaign feature, you can replicate your existing campaign’s content to maintain CPC adjustments and blocks. You’ll get the benefits of creating a new campaign without the hassle of re-entering existing information. Just be sure to make your necessary tweaks before launching! 

6. When to modify your CPC

As a marketer, maximizing your ROI and getting the most out of your bid strategy is key. Knowing when to adjust your bid is an essential factor in maximizing your performance. Please note, if you’re using CBS (excluding Semi-Auto mode) or EBS (excluding Clicks mode), our platform will auto-adjust your CPC accordingly. If you do not fall into this bucket, you can follow the below guidelines to best adjust your CPC:

After your campaign has been live for 3-4 days and your budget starts capping each day, you can begin to gradually lower your CPC by no more than 10% at a time to stretch your original budget. Only lower your CPC once a day to ensure the process is gradual. 

7. Test multiple creative variations

We recommend including 3-4 title and image variations (depending on budget). Providing multiple creative options will enable our platform to test and learn, ultimately optimizing toward the best performing ads and boosting your overall CTR.

Check out all the Smartad formats available on Amplify that are designed to match the look and feel of our premium publisher pages. 

8. One URL per campaign is key 

Our best practice is to use just one clickthrough URL per campaign. This gives each URL a fair opportunity to excel as our algorithms progressively determine which ones perform the best across our network.

9. Timing is everything

All ads submitted are thoroughly reviewed by our internal Content Review team to ensure it meets our quality standards and Advertising Guidelines. We recommend submitting your campaign one week before your expected launch date as a precautionary measure to give our team ample time to review and leave yourself a window to make any necessary edits.

Pausing your campaign prior to its review will halt the review process altogether. So if you’re proactively scheduling a campaign to launch on a future date, be sure to leave your content in its On/Active state until you get confirmation that it was reviewed.

10. Keep calm and launch your Outbrain campaign

Take a deep breath and remember: Amplify is incredibly dynamic and lets you stay in control directly from your dashboard.

If you’re having any issues with your launch, reach out to our DIY Customer Success team – they’re willing and ready to assist you.

Want more helpful tips for becoming an Amplify expert? Be sure to register for our upcoming Dashboard 101 Webinar, which we host live every month.

Sydney Davis

Sydney Davis

Sydney is a Product Marketing Manager and has been at Outbrain for a year. She has over six years of ad tech experience, and previously held Media Buying & Strategy roles before transitioning to Product Marketing in 2018. She currently lives in Chicago, and likes to spend her free time cooking plant-based meals, running, biking, and discovering new music.

Dana Wicnudel

Dana Wicnudel

Dana is a DIY Customer Success Manager on Outbrain's Global Growth team. She's been working for Outbrain for four years. Optimizations and all things content are her passions. Outside of the office, Dana loves dancing hip hop, petting all the dogs wherever she goes, and drinking mate (an Argentinian beverage).