Taboola Review: An Advertiser's Inside Look

By Mark Simon Resources, Taboola

What is Taboola?

Taboola is a native advertising platform that partners with media sites such as NYT in exchange to share advertising revenue. Advertisers go to Taboola to reach a large number of sites, the most well known competitor is Google Adsense.

Many publishers use both Taboola and Google to make money from ads. Taboola is a form of native advertising that uses in-feed and recommendation widget formats.

When to use Taboola

There are case studies of Taboola for language app Babel, mobile game developer Innogames, and menswear company Mack Weldon.

If you have a working campaign on Google Display Network or Facebook then there is a good chance you can re-use the offer on Taboola. Direct response offers for financial services, e-commerce, health & beauty all do very well too.

If you have only relied on organic search, social & referral traffic then take a look at some of your top performing content. The best is your own analytics; look at what content is getting traffic that converts. Otherwise use Ahrefs or Buzzstream to see what has been shared the most as a starting point.

How to measure results

There are three main levels you want to track results the campaign, ad, and site.

The campaign is where all your targeting and budget settings live. The ad is the image, headline and URL to landing page. The site is the website or app the ad is shown such as MSN.

Follow this guide for setting up Google Analytics tracking; use the cheat sheet for any analytics or click tracker.

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Taboola Pro's:

  • Large reach & volume
  • Access to premium MSN
  • Cost-effective, especially compared to Google & Facebook
  • Successful campaigns run for months, years

The best part of Taboola is reaching a large audience at a very cost effective price. Many advertisers are able to get similar or better CPA results compared to Facebook after some optimization.

Reaching people on MSN is a big draw of Taboola. If people who read MSN's website meet your target demographic and convert; that is probably your first white list campaign.

Another great perk is the ability to adjust your cpc bid by site or block an entire site from your campaign. This allows you to bid the appropriate amount given the conversion rate of the publisher.

Taboola Con's:

  • No self-serve whitelist of publishers
  • API limited compared to Backstage UI
  • No interest targeting
  • Data delays, retroactively changed
  • May require lots of testing to find a "hit"
  • Taboola UI is slow, poorly organized

The biggest downside for Taboola is the UI makes it difficult to do everything. Ad creation is slow and clunky. Campaign performance data is on a different page then changing budget, cpc, or anything else. So you need two tabs on separate monitors to even attempt optimization.

Use Brax to see campaign performance data and make changes on the same page eliminating the pain of Taboola.

How much does Taboola cost?

The minimum budget for a campaign is $100 and the minimum cost per click (CPC) is $0.01.

Does that mean you will get one cent clicks? Highly unlikely.

Most advertisers start bidding around $.05 to $1.50 depending on the niche. Interactive or video content typically needs a lower cost per click compared to credit card offers.

You should expect to use a test budget of at least $500 to give Taboola a fair shot at success.

Mistakes to avoid

The biggest mistakes advertisers make on Taboola are easy to avoid with a simple plan. Here are the most common mistakes:

  • Wrong type of content/landing page
  • No call to action
  • Missing site tracking tags
  • Too few ad creatives

First and foremost, review Taboola's advertising guidelines to make sure your landing page is up to snuff.

Second, unless you are going for brand awareness then a call to action is a must have on all landing pages. Treat this the same as you would a page for Adwords or Facebook campaigns.

You can't rely on automatic tracking, so use tracking tags to measure performance.

Finally, start with at least 25 ad creatives to test; you may need many more to find a hit. Check out 50 Native Ad Examples 2018 to see ad creative & landing page angles that work.

Where to start

Before advertising with Taboola there are a few recommended steps:

  1. Check out examples that work
  2. Read Taboola's guidelines
  3. Plan a campaign
  4. Sign-up for Taboola

Planning a campaign is not that difficult once you have seen examples and read the guidelines. A simple plan consists of the following items in a spreadsheet or similar document:

  • Landing page URL
  • Ad image(s)
  • Ad title(s)
  • Brand name
  • Campaign tracking tags
  • Funds to deposit

When you are ready to start, sign-up for Taboola.

After your first campaign is approved, use Brax to succeed on Taboola faster.

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