Outside Magazine built its own recommendation widgets to replace Outbrain

Although the revenue from third-party recommendation widgets can be addicting for many publishers, the ads can be rife with clickbait that degrades the user experience.

Outside Magazine, a publication that promotes an active lifestyle outdoors, was running Outbrain’s widget on its site. Four months ago, it replaced it with its own, which only recommends other Outside articles. The change got users to read more Outside articles, making up for the revenue that Outside had received from Outbrain, which supplied 10 percent of Outside’s digital ad dollars.

With Outbrain’s widgets, about 1 percent of its total visitors clicked through, while Outside’s own recommendation boxes have about a 1.3 percent click-through rate, said Todd Hodgson, director of product management at Outside. That adds up quickly, he said.

Hodgson believed the CTR went up because Outside’s widgets give its editors more control over what appears in the boxes, ensuring the content is more relevant to readers.

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