An Overview on Content Discovery & Native Advertising

By Amy Kacala


Curated news and opinion feeds are all the rage—and content discovery platforms can dovetail seamlessly with native ad campaigns.


Why Content Discovery Platforms and Native Ads Are a Natural Fit

Content discovery ads are close cousins of native advertising, and having a solid answer to the question “What is content discovery?” is vital for exploiting the potential of platforms that display both types of material.

The amount of content online continues to grow at an exponential rate, and it’s impossible to follow even a fraction of the written material being uploaded on a daily basis. Even if you have a favorite news platform or one overarching hobby, you’ll be unable to keep up with the volume of content being generated.

Content discovery platforms serve as an antidote to this information overload. Like native advertising, they include content suggestions in sidebars toward the bottom or right-hand side of an external webpage. Like native advertising, they’re curated for maximum appeal. And like native ads, they’re extremely effective at directing people from the site they’re on toward recommended reading elsewhere.

Content discovery differs slightly from native advertising, even though these terms are sometimes (incorrectly) used interchangeably.

The path to content-ment

On paper (or on screen), it can be hard to tell the difference between content discovery and native advertising. Both appear in highlighted boxes with a discreet “Recommended content” or “Around the web” subheading distinguishing them from core on-page content. Both tend to use deliberately ambiguous or attention-grabbing headlines—often with a cropped image suggesting all will be revealed once the reader sees the original, uncropped image. Both lead audiences to third-party websites, and both feature an ever-changing roster of content personalized to each reader.

However, there are one or two key differences between content discovery ads and native ads. Native ads are explicitly aimed at selling products or services, whereas content discovery ads raise awareness of content online. Native ads run as part of a campaign to boost profits, whereas content discovery networks may have more subtle aims—increasing awareness, or generating leads. A software developer might use content discovery platforms, for instance, to promote its latest white paper on tech developments, which is too in-depth for an advert and too niche to attract sufficient organic traffic through search engines.

You’re also quite likely to see click arbitrage material on content discovery platforms—agenda-led news stories, quizzes, celebrity platforms, and other websites that live or die based on their traffic volumes. With over half a million new websites launched daily around the world, existing sites have a titanic battle retaining existing audiences, let alone replacing the inevitable churn with new readers. Search engines alone generate insufficient new visitor numbers for these traffic-focused platforms.

A curated collection

Because the science of displaying content discovery ads and native advertising relies on the same advanced algorithms and detailed demographic data, it’s no surprise that the biggest content discovery platforms are also leading exponents of native advertising:

  • Taboola’s content discovery partners include The Motley Fool and
  • Outbrain enjoys associations with and
  • Revcontent’s partners include History and Sports Illustrated.
  • has partnered with the likes of and

There are significant differences between these platforms, despite their comparable areas of expertise and methods of operation. Depending on the objectives of your campaign, one might be a better fit than others.

Budgets also differ. We recently discussed how minimum platform spends vary—Taboola campaigns can run on a $50 daily budget, whereas Revcontent sets a $100 minimum, and Outbrain recommends setting aside at least $250 to reach its array of partner networks. Of course, some clients will have content discovery ads budgets far in excess of these modest figures, but it’s reassuring for small businesses and startups to know they can run campaigns without needing deep pockets.

Going native

With display ad clickthrough rates as low as one in two thousand, curated advertising is an obvious fit alongside curated editorial. Native advertising campaigns select ads based on advanced user analytics and machine learning algorithms, predicting what content a specific individual may wish or prefer to see. A soccer fan might be shown native adverts for vintage replica shirts or match streaming subscriptions, whereas someone without prior interest in the beautiful game wouldn’t see these ads. Alongside known interests, native campaigns can be tailored around advanced demographic data including age and someone’s precise location, discreetly placing relevant ads in front of selected audiences.

At Brax, we offer a unified interface for managing campaigns across all the major native advertising networks outlined above. You can enjoy granular control over $10,000 of monthly ad spend for just $199 a month, or experiment for free by signing up to our no-cost 15-day trial.