The Pros:A�Easy to use for monetization (if you have enough visitors!), detailed analytics and it’s free
The Cons:A�Requires registration, more of a monetization than recommendation algorithm at work
Ahh, the famous Outbrain widget! Related posts “Recommended by Outbrain” (often with the little orange Outbrain icon) are probably the ones most widely recognized. And that is easy to explain: Outbrain started out as a way for publishers to monetize content via native advertising. While related post companies such as nrelate added the option to monetize later on, Outbrain’s whole reason d’etre revolves around monetizing a website.
And it appears to be fairly successful at what it does: With more than 100,000 medium to large websites using its service (check CNN et al), A�Outbrain claims to generate 15 billion page views per month, reaching 87% of the U.S. internet population (check Wikipedia for details). Ain’t bad, eh?
The question though is: Can a related posts plugin that was purely developed as a byproduct to allow the inclusion of native advertising actually work properly for somebody who wants the related posts feature and that feature only? Truth be told, no. The Outbrain widget is squarely focussed on showing ads that match the content. Showing other content that matches the content is of lower priority.
Also, the customization options are very slim allowing you to choose between thumbnail and text links. That’s it. Nothing more to choose from or customize yourself. And finally, the reason why everybody knows “Recommended by Outbrain” is that website owners cannot disable the link below the related posts, leading to an even less customized integration.
So, in case you do not happen to run a huge website looking primarily for a way to make some bucks we would not recommend Outbrain. There are better tools around when it comes to related post plugins.
PS: Since the WordPress plugin has not been updated in the last 2 years there is an official warning an the WordPress directory page now that it might not be maintained anymore and could have compatibility issues. Another reason not to go for Outbrain 😉