Outbrain Provides Most Cost-Effective Marketing Activity


Shelter, the housing and homelessness charity provides advice and information to people in housing need. Its online advice and support, with over 600 pages of content and 10 interactive tools, is by far its largest vehicle to help people, reaching over 3.6 million unique viewers.


Despite the need, most people who have a housing problem do not seek advice. There is a large potential audience for Shelter’s online content, however many are not aware that the content exists to help them. Shelter wanted to increase the reach and visibility of its online content to enable more people to access the information, and if appropriate find further advice and sup- port. The goal was to increase the public’s awareness of digital advice and drive traffic to Shelter’s ‘Get Advice’ pages.


Shelter integrated Outbrain into its marketing mix to amplify its impact and reach its prospective audience at scale. Outbrain was used to drive the discovery of Shelter’s content across its network of premium publisher sites to readers who were most likely to be interested in it, drawing on the discovery network’s sophisticated and proprietary algorithms. When users clicked Shelter’s links, the charity paid on a cost-effective pay-per-click basis (typically 20p –30p).

Shelter wanted to capitalize on a period of increased focus on housing issues (the introduction of ‘bedroom tax’) to raise awareness of the charity as a place to offer support. Headlines were written in simple, easy to understand and informative language (e.g. Bedroom tax is coming – here’s what you can do), providing reassurance and help around the upcoming welfare changes.

To maintain momentum, Shelter updated content to keep the campaign fresh, and headlines were optimised based on Outbrain intelligence about the best-performing content. In addition, content was geo-targeted to reach only those in England, and Shelter was able to develop separate campaigns for mobile and desktop to test engagement across a range of channels and devices.


Over a defined 6 week campaign, Outbrain outperformed all other platforms, delivering just under half the traffic for the entire marketing campaign.

Not only was Outbrain able to deliver reach at scale, but the traffic was high-quality and with a much better engagement rate than display advertising – bounce rates were lower (25%), and time spent on site was higher. In addition, click-through rates were six times higher than those seen across display.


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