There are two major players in the online content recommendation game, those two being Outbrain and Taboola.  Both companies focus on serving up the best content to audiences around the web and you have likely interacted with at least one of these companies platforms on some website whether you realized it or not.  From the outside looking in you would think Outbrain is the more successful company, but according to new data — you would be wrong, it isn’t.  In fact, in the tale of two content recommendation platforms, it appears the winner of the current chapter is Taboola.

Despite raising significantly less capital, having less employees, and not nearly as many offices around the world, Taboola is currently besting the 800 pound gorilla that is Outbrain. According to Adam Singolda, CEO Taboola, early last year his company was sitting in the number two spot behind Outbrain, which at the time was 30 times bigger than them. Singolda accredits his company’s recent success and fast paced growth to the technology behind his product, “we spent four years building a video technology to disrupt video discovery and then we realized we could also recommend articles,” he said.

Taboola is currently serving up 100 billion recommendations per month, but the real interesting data is from traffic analytics service Compete.  By analyzing the redirect URLs of each content recommendation service, Compete has been able to count the number of unique visitors and pageviews generated by each platform and Taboola is winning.  For the month of October, Taboola drove over 24 million unique visits for advertisers (an increase of 13 percent) and generated almost 56 million pageviews (an increase of 16 percent). Meanwhile, Outbrain unique visitors dropped 1.8 percent to 18 million and pageviews also fell slightly (0.7 percent) to 55.5 million.

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The company now has crossed the $100 million annual run rate and is also profitable — and has been for a few months.  Additionally, at least 20 percent of the company’s revenues come from mobile.

In the Compete data I noticed that many of the top advertisers on Taboola are the same as the ones found on Outbrain.  To me, this shows that companies are experimenting and trying to figure out which platforms work best for them, which is definitely the smart thing to do in still unchartered waters.  The data from Compete also seemed to indicate that Taboola has slightly more advertisers on its network, coming in at 2,750 compared to Outbrain’s 2,330.

This space is still young and there is a lot of room for growth, it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

  • well if says so, it must be true. what about comscore, aka the industry standard? man, these guys must be desperate to raise some cash

  • As a publisher we have used both Taboola and Outbrain over the last year, and what you failed to mention in this article is the stark contrast that exists between these two when it comes to quality. Taboola at times is willing to forego quality for quantity where as Outbrain never compromises in this regard. Besides, do you really think Compete is a credible source when it comes to visitor data?

  • Genuinely confused by this thread, and this article, as Taboola + Disqus, in large part it seems are dependent upon the same Newsmax products to successfully monetize. If they’re willing to arbitrage click baiting credit card trolling titles, preying on a particularly click foolish niche audience, why don’t they just go direct? Newsmax has their own widget filled with “Obama Ruining the Economy” “Bible reveals the Market” “Power 4 patriots”. We all know this. In no way is this differentiation in the market, its the same shame spiral we’ve seen with other widgets. Painting this space as a technology service for publishers is disingenuous – it becomes simply another ad placement, and as I’m stressing, a really bad user experience at that.

  • I have no dog in this fight but I do work in Adtech. That said, when I want sports I read ESPN and SI. For news I read CNN, NBC, Reuters, Slate and Gawker. When I check the market I go to WSJ, Bloomberg and CNBC. Seems to me like Outbrain destroys Taboola when it comes to sites that “matter”

    • That’s an interesting way to look at it (looking at the publishers each company works with), but at the end of the day it comes down to which platform is generating more traffic and better ROI for its advertisers. I can’t speak to the ROI aspect as that varies on KPIs, but according to the data I saw in terms of traffic generated for advertisers in the month of October, Taboola was on top.

      Honestly, it’s an interesting stat which is why I published it, the same way it was interesting when Yahoo topped Google in web traffic this past summer.

    • Hey Raziel, thanks for sharing that. I guess the question is what site was that screenshot taken on? It’s all about context, if the publishers content is of the same vein that I guess it makes sense. Outbrain has recommended content with similar types photos/topics (see attached image from TheChive). In this case it makes sense for Outbrain to recommend this type of content as it aligns with the content found on TheChive.

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