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How One Innovative Company is Disrupting the Native Ads Space (And Why You Should Jump on Board)

By: Jeff Bullas


How One Innovative Company is Disrupting the Native Ad Space

It’s gone missing…

Your engagement. Your click revenue. Your publishing business.

For years publishers have relied on social networks as a means of amplifying their message and growing an audience. You’ve relied on AdSense, banners, pop-ups, and native ad widgets for click revenue.

The game is changing…

Your readers want the social experience for discovering content, but social networks are making you pay to reach an audience that used to be free.

This problem isn’t new. In fact, native ad networks have been trying to relieve the reliance on social networks as a content distribution platform for almost a decade now.

But the current landscape of native ad widgets is underwhelming. Your audience wants a more “natural” experience than what is on the market.

Why native ad feeds are intriguing for publishers

Native ad feeds are a significant upgrade on traditional widget-based recommendations because they combine the popular experience of a social newsfeed with the smart placement of native sponsored content on your web property.

One obvious benefit of native ad feeds for publishers is the generation of traffic for new content. You place your content in a native ad feed and have it distributed across the feeds’ network of websites. People click, you get traffic.

But the benefits of native ad feeds go beyond the amplification of your own content. You can also partner with native ad networks to run feeds on your own website. By running feeds on your own site you open up a new stream of potential revenue. Compared with other forms of on-site advertising such as Google Adsense, pop-ups, banners, and traditional native ad widgets, feeds entice more clicks from viewers because the content is recommended in a way that blends into the site’s user experience.

So, if you are looking at native ad feeds as a way to generate more revenue and traffic for your website, which network should you choose?

Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of the some of the new ad feed options as well as one social platform that could revolutionize the space.

Comparing native ad feeds (Engage, Taboola, Outbrain)

Engage.IM’s Feed


  • Engage.IM has a 4-5x better engagement rate before content personalization and 11x after, compared to traditional native ad feeds. This is due to their social media integrations, likes, comments, reactions, and powerful personalization algorithm.
  • Engage.IM users see a personalized experience across all sites, with over 3,000+ user segments. Their open-source design enables further personalization by integrating with your favorite apps, comment platforms, video, and polling or survey tools.
  • More revenue for publishers.Increased personalization results in more engagement and revenue for publishers on the network. Publishers are seeing vRPMs as high as $20 thanks to increased time on site, more pages per visit and better personalization for users.
  • More social, less greed.IM puts an emphasis on the user experience, opting to perform more as a social platform than a continuous scroll ad-wall.Engage.IM is the only one of these new platforms that empowers an Open Web by allowing publishers to determine the best strategies for monetization and content.


  • Exclusive publishers network. Because of the high amount of interest in Engage.IM since it was announced in March, it is only available by an invite-only application process. While this limits the publishers that can use the network, it also creates a distinct competitive advantage for the lucky ones that do get an early invite.
  • Strict ad quality rules.In Native Advertising, it is widely known that the more salacious an image or headline is, the more clicks it will get. Engage.IM sets standards for paid ad quality that bans all sexually explicit content based on guidelines set by the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, so if you are an advertiser who runs lower quality and risque native content, Engage.IM may not be the place for you.

Taboola’s Feed


  • Infinite scroll. The Taboola feed has a beautifully designed infinite scroll feature that entices page visitors to stick around and keep reading the content on your site, alongside Taboola’s paid content.
  • Content recirculation.This feed also recirculates the publisher’s content as the feed scrolls, creating more opportunities for visitors to navigate around your website.
  • Established network. As an established native ads platform Taboola provides a robust and stable network of publishers and advertisers.


  • Not an open source feed. Taboola’s feed only integrates with the publisher’s website, which means that you are limited in how much you can personalize the experience for your site visitors. Publishers who are still feeling burned by “Walled Gardens” like Facebook may be wary of pivoting to another closed platform.
  • Lacks social engagement features.Unlike Engage.IM, Taboola’s feed doesn’t have social commenting, reactions, and liking features. Although the infinite scroll is a nice touch, Taboola’s Feed feels more like the traditional native ad walls.
  • Inappropriate content recommendations. This feed could recommend Taboola ads that contain sexually explicit content.

Outbrain’s Smartfeed


  • Infinite scroll.Just like Taboola, the Outbrain Smartfeed has a nicely designed infinite scroll feature that keeps page visitors interested for longer.
  • Includes video content.Similar to Engage.IM, Outbrain also includes video content which helps replicate the social newsfeed experience for viewers.
  • Content recirculation.In a similar way to Taboola, this feed recirculates the publisher’s content, creating more opportunities for visitors to navigate around your website.


  • Lacks personalization. Much like Taboola, Outbrain isn’t an open source platform which means it is limited in how much you can personalize the experience. Because of that limited personalization, Smartfeed has yet to show the same revenue opportunities as traditional content recommendation units or close to what publishers like Newsweek have seen with Engage.IM.
  • A high percentage of paid content. A big downside to the Outbrain Smartfeed is its percentage of sponsored content compared to organic publisher content. Your content will be featured less often!
  • No social engagement features.There are no social commenting, reactions, and liking features with Outbrain’s Smartfeed either. This limits the ability for users to build a relationship with the publisher and its content.


Native advertising is evolving and publishers need to come for the ride.

Your site visitors don’t engage with traditional ad placements like they used to. Widgets are limited in their placement, banners are being ignored, and there is a disconnect between the experience your social audience is craving and the one they see on your website.

If you want to build loyal communities, improve visitor engagement, and generate more revenue in the process, you need to focus on a native experience that replicates the way those visitors intuitively engage with content.

When it comes to native ad feeds, Engage.IM combines the best elements of social, paid, and personalization into one platform and gives the power back to the publishers to determine what is most important to their overall strategy.

Published: June 8, 2018

Source: Jeff Bullas

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Jeff Bullas

Jeff Bullas is a consultant, blogger, strategist, and speaker. He works with companies and executives to optimize their online personal and corporate brands through the use of social media channels. Author of the Amazon best-selling book Blogging the Smart Way—How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media (Jeff Bullas, 2012), Jeff's own blog is included in AdAge.com's Power 150 ranking as a top 50 marketing blog.

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