Outbrain and Vertical Acuity are two Related Links Thumbnail Widgets that can be used in lieu of the traditional text link related post option. Once Outbrain or Vertical Acuity have been installed, these related links thumbnail widgets will display related posts at the bottom of your posts or wherever you have placed their code in your website or blog template.
Outbrain’s official description:
Our content recommendation system personalizes links for each of your readers. We blend contextual analysis, collaborative filtering (“people who read this article also read…”), and personalization to sift through all your content and select the best four or five links to show at any time
The widget is free, simple to install and will automatically inherit the look and feel of your site. Set your preferences…and in less than 60 seconds, your readers will begin seeing thumbnail images linking to great content.
Here is what a reader told me about Outbrain prior to trying it out myself:
It is just liked LinkWithin but much better. It wont display posts they’ve already read, more plugin options, automatically generates a thumbnail image even if you don’t have any pictures in the post (it’s a cool looking 3D view of the actual text of the article).
And what I didn’t like about the description of Outbrain’s other options
Outbrain also serves links to articles on other sites that partners are paying us to distribute. Like all our content recommendations, these paid links are targeted to provide your readers interesting content that we think they will enjoy. In return, you share in the proceeds, developing a significant new revenue stream based on high user engagement that complements your editorial mission.
I want to keep site visitors on my site for as long as possible and keep the bounce rate low. I’m not trying to up the pageviews of another site and send my traffic somewhere else. If this feature can be turned off, great, if not, I’ll pass. I do like that the ads can be turned though.
From Outbrain on how to install their widget:
- Paste the code into the template(s) where you want the Outbrain widget to show.
- Replace the ‘DROP_PERMALINK_HERE’ text in the code with a variable that indicates each post’s permalink URL. This variable may be different depending on what platform you’re using, but it should dynamically pull in the permanant URL of each page where the widget resides.
I plugged in various permalinks into their code. Nothing (I do not have a computer science degree…yet). After that I said forget it. If I have to go into their forums or send them an email (they offer live chat also), I’ll stick with the right-out-of-the-box solutions e.g. LinkWithin and nRelate, written about here: LinkWithin and nRelate: Related Posts Comparative Analysis. I have posts and content to generate. After an undetermined amount of time, the widget finally appeared after using the permalink: my URL/%postname%/.
After Outbrain’s Installation
Using the “Get Blog Widgets” version of Outbrain, the entire title for the posts were included, causing a side scroll bar to appear next to the widget.
Needless to say I didn’t like the scroll bar though on other sites that currently use it like Firstshowing, the scroll bar is not present. LinkWithin automatically cuts off the long title text in the title of the post so that all of the titles are more or less the same length and no scroll bar is ever present. NRelate does not truncate the titles but no scroll appears either.
One final note: The Outbrain widget did not show up in the mobile version of my website while the LinkWithin and nRelate widgets both did. This is either a good thing or a bad thing depending upon your perspective. I use five LinkWithin widget thumbnail boxes at the bottom of my posts and they are cut off in the middle of the third one on the mobile version of my website. This is why some websites have stopped using LinkWithin I imagine. If you do not want the widget showing at the bottom of the mobile version of your website, Outbrain is a good option for that. If you do, nRelate is probably the best bet. It aligns the thumbnails so that they all show on the mobile version of your website, even if you use five of them. Thumbnail links at the bottom of your mobile website posts means potentially more pageviews for your site and more ad revenue (if you have monetized the mobile version of your website and/or you sell ads on your website). Mobile website revenue was written about earlier here: How a Smart Phone improved a Website’s Mobile Presentation and Ad Revenue. Advertisers love high pageviews: that means more eyes on their products and potential customers for their products.
Vertical Acuity’s official description:
Our Digital Curation engine gives editors up to the second stats on the web’s highest performing content and allows them to drag content that’s on brand and in demand onto their site in real time. Just-in-time articles, photos and video can be automatically curated and delivered dynamically, or manually curated through our drag-and-drop curation browser. Either way, you create the page views you want for the time period you want. All the brand rules and content usage rights are automagically managed on the back end. You can:
- Curate content manually or dynamically
- Syndicate content in real time with the click of a mouse
- Drive higher frequency, loyalty and duration
- Lower your cost of goods
- Protect and control your brand when bringing in syndicated content,
as well as when you syndicate out
See their content management in action here.
After Vertical Acuity Service Evaluation
Vertical Acuity requires a service sign up and a approval process. This is understandable, especially if the service cares anything about controlling the quality of the sites using their services and whose content is accessible to its other publishers. For a prospective publisher looking to “kick the tires” and take it for a test drive before taking the plunge, this is cumbersome.
The availability to choose what related posts (the “web’s highest performing content…on brand and in demand…in real time. Just-in-time articles, photos and videoshows) on your website is good, very good but even if this process comes with an automated option, I do not want to show content from another website on my own unless that other website is also owned by me. By showing my own content in those thumbnails, I potentially increase my aggregate pageviews per post, per site visit. My site’s visitors (possibly) and other site owners (certainly) might be happy with Vertical Acuity’s related link thumbnails but my site’s pageview count will not.
I was also unable to see how Vertical Acuity’s thumbnails look on a mobile website or if they appear at all.
Outbrain and Vertical Acuity are both looking to monetize related links thumbnail widgets and make related links thumbnails more dynamic. If this is your goal as a webmaster, Outbrain and Vertical Acuity give you options to do so, Vertical Acuity more so than Outbrain. If you are looking for a good ‘ol fashion related links thumbnail widget, Outbrain is your best choice out of the two though I was not able to give Vertical Acuity the type of once-over that I was with Outbrain.