Review Information Last Updated on: September 9, 2016
Taboola, along with Adblade and Outbrain, is one of the top sponsored content networks on the Internet. They power many of the “Sponsored Links” and “Stories you might like from around the Web” sections that you have probably seen on sites like the New York Times, TMZ, and USA Today to name a few. While certain implementations can appear rather spammy (e.g., a link to a story titled “10 Celebs You’d Never Guess Went Full Frontal On Film”), these links can be effective sources of incremental revenue for many sites.
Taboola Tech Implementation Rating: 4 out of 5.
Taboola Publisher Reporting & Admin Control Panel Rating: 4 out of 5.
Taboola Payment Rating: 3 out of 5.
Taboola Account Help Rating: 4 out of 5.
With Taboola, Web publishers generating at least half a million monthly page views can display sponsored content links that may earn them incremental revenue. The theory behind sponsored content is simple: publishers link out to other websites, getting compensated for each click generated.
Sponsored content networks such as Taboola, Outbrain, and Adblade act as the middlemen between the publishers and advertisers (who are usually other publishers themselves in this case), with their algorithms driving the recommendations (i.e., which sponsored links are displayed on which sites).
Because Outbrain has such a sizable traffic minimum (10 million monthly US page views), Taboola is usually the sponsored content network of choice for smaller publishers. Although note that Taboola has a traffic minimum of 500,000 page views per month.
Display ad network Adblade is another choice for smaller publishers (between 500,000 and 10 million page views per month), as they offer a sponsored content widget that they refer to as their “NewsBullet” placement. The main drawback to sponsored content widgets such as Taboola’s is that they can often appear spammy. Take for instance a recent set of sponsored link headlines run by Taboola here at MonetizePros:
None of those headlines is particularly high quality nor relevant to our typical material that we cover here at MonetizePros. Admittedly, these link headlines are downright cheesy click bait. The perception of a site that runs “recommended reading” widgets such as these may suffer.
On the upside, they actually do work in generating incremental revenue. In our experience, we have seen click rates approaching 1%, with CPC rates in the range of 4 to 5 cents, and RPM of nearly $0.40. At 500,000 monthly impressions, that’s $200 in revenue. Granted, that’s not exactly moving the needle, but consider that it’s close to purely incremental revenue and amounts to an extra $2,000 or so per year.
Getting approved for Taboola is a manual process. There is no sign-up form on their site and certainly no instant approval. You must request access to their network through their contact form. After some time (in our experience, it took four days), you will be contacted by a member of their support team, and if you qualify, your site will be approved.
The HTML code to implement on your site will be sent via email, along with instructions to log into your reporting dashboard and set up payment via Payoneer. As mentioned above, the administrative control panel is somewhat underwhelming. There is no way to pull code or modify the settings of the widget, nor is there any way to revise your account or payment profiles.
Payment is handled through an entirely different control panel at Payoneer. Tech support is not available via the control panel, but in our experience, we have been in one-on-one email communication with two different Taboola reps, either of which seemed capable of assisting any technical difficulties if any were to arise. Having a live person to go to can often be better than a tech support control panel.
Where the control panel does excel is at reporting. The reporting functionality of Taboola is second to none. The interface is slick and easy to use, and with statistics available on CPC, RPM, impressions, all filterable by custom date range and placement, there’s not anything more to ask for.
Via the control panel, the publisher can also ban certain words or phrases from being used in any of the sponsored link headlines. (For instance, we recently blocked the phrase “full frontal”.)
As far as payment is concerned, remittance of payment is quick. Although we couldn’t find any explicit payment terms on their site, it seems that they have been paying us here at MonetizePros on a Net 30 schedule. Payment options are scant, with direct deposit via Payoneer being the only option. So if you want a paper check or PayPal, you’re out of luck.
Taboola is worth a try for any Web publisher looking for an alternative revenue source. Taboola recommends placing their widget below the content of individual article pages. This is the most common implementation and is recommended because it hides the spamminess of the unit well below the fold so that only users who have read the entire article actually have to see it.
The widget itself could serve as a nice call to action for users who have already reached the end of your article. At MonetizePros, we have in the past run Taboola well below the end of the article, and under our call to action to sign up for membership and the article comment box. The only thing running below our widget is the site footer.
This results in the widget being viewed on only about 10% of article page impressions. But when it is viewed, it does a good job generating revenue from a user who has already bypassed everything else on the page. This is why Taboola clicks are often thought of as generating incremental revenue. The type of user who has scrolled through everything on the page without clicking on anything, but then clicks on an article about rappers using psychics was probably unlikely to have generated revenue for the site in any other way (i.e., by clicking on a different display ad or by signing up for a newsletter or site membership).
Of course, running the widget at the bottom of the page is not your only option. You may wish to test the widget in a float-right box at the top of the article page, or perhaps an inter-paragraph widget. These will get viewed more (which may be considered undesirable from a site perception standpoint) and clicked more (which will generate additional revenue, but perhaps at the expense of higher revenue actions).
Overall, if you have a hankering to test the waters with sponsored content, Taboola and Adblade are the two options to test. If your site has high enough traffic, throw Outbrain into the mix as well.