Outbrain is an online advertising agency specializing in sponsored website links — those recommended content widgets at the bottom of so many other articles on the web these days — and content marketing. The firm just released a massive undertaking — its new State of Global Content Marketing report — and the overall message is that 2016 was a big year for content worldwide.
It’s in a perfect position to gauge what’s working and what’s not. Outbrain’s promoted articles and other forms of content are now found on more than 35,000 websites and serve more than 250 billion recommendations and 15 billion page views per month.
According to its latest report, produced in partnership with Ceros, the top-performing pieces of Outbrain content in 2016 in almost every region involved tragedies, terrorist attacks, Brexit and the US election — not surprising in a year during which politics dominated the headlines.
Japan was an exception, with its top three stories focused on celebrities’ criminal behavior. South Africa’s most-clicked articles covered severe cold weather and a story on hairstyle restrictions in schools.
Among other interesting nuggets from the report:
• Germans trust brands almost as much as they trust traditional media outlets (42% vs 44%).
• 96% of Italian marketers manage their digital content and 94.6% of Spanish marketers used content marketing.
• 84% of Australian marketers say that creating more engaging content is their top priority for 2017.
• Ad blockers hit big last year in Italy, causing losses for media outlets, but were much less popular in Japan.
Globally, mobile has surpassed every other method of content consumption, so it comes as no surprise that 52% of all Outbrain page views were on mobile devices in 2016. France and South Africa saw the majority of Outbrain content accessed on mobile.
Outbrain video content is increasingly consumed on mobile devices. 42% of South Africans viewed video on mobile, the second-highest year-on-year growth in that area. Germany saw a 27.5% jump in video viewing last year, and 45% of all Israelis watched an Outbrain video on a phone last year.
54% of people in Singapore were regular digital video watchers in 2016, for example, while snacking on video is now the norm for Brazil’s 64 million smartphone users.
Hot topics in North America last year included chatbots, which Microsoft’s CEO believes are the new apps, and virtual reality.