David and Goliath: nRelate and Outbrain, A Tale of Two Content Recommendation Engines

david and goliath David and Goliath: nRelate and Outbrain, A Tale of Two Content Recommendation Engines

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After a post about Outbrain’s recent $35 million fund raise, Betabeat got an email from nRelate, a competing content recommendation engine also based in New York.

“Did you know nRelate.com has more publishers than Outbrain and nRelate is accomplishing more with less than 1 percent of Outbrain’s funding. Both companies also report the same CTR (click through rate) of 5.7 percent,” Marc Macias, nRelate’s communications guy, said in an email.

Them’s fighting words! And there was more. “Here is the best part. nRelate’s plug-in is free and allows all publishers— regardless of size—to syndicate their material over the web.”

Today Outbrain announced a self-serve platform, which seems to address the charge that small publishers can’t use their service. “Whether you have 1 article or 1,000, Outbrain Amplify is a fast and highly effective way to drive a highly engaged audience to your content,” announces the web site.

While it’s great news that Joe Blow Blogger can get his thoughts shared on Slate and CNN, there is a starting fee of $10 a day. So not exactly free, like nRelate’s widget, but still available to everyone.

NRelate, which raised $500,000 in angel funding, is about 18 months old and has five full time employees. “We are coming from a more open source community,” said nRelate co-founder Oliver Wellington. “Outbrain doesn’t pay publishers unless they are doing big traffic. We share revenue with publishers no matter what their size and let them customize our widget as well.”

To go along with this, nRelate sent along a press release touting 1,000 percent year over year growth.

Outbrain’s Josh Guttman sent us this response. “We work with publishers of all sizes.  As an example, we’d love to work with you (Betabeat) and consider you guys a small-to-medium sized publisher in our ecosystem.  We have tens of thousands of small publishers who use our products and hundreds of top-tier partners. We think that we stand alone when measured against ease of install, engagement, revenue opportunity and account management.  I’m sure nRelate has some interesting products, but we keep our customers happy and that’s what this game is all about.”

Anyone out there sampled both products? Give us your take in the comments.


  1. Daniel says:

    Yep, have a read my review on the take – http://www.danielhaim.com/2011/12/relevancy-its-all-about-relevancy/blog

  2. Anonymous says:

    My two cents: We have millions of visits per month with a high rate of pageviews, and we were looking for ways to connect our readers with useful content laying in our huge archive. I gave Linkwithin a try, it worked as expected, but not much support, statistics or extra development (they’ve had the same website for years). I saw  that AOL was using Surphace, and a few days after Outbrain acquired it. It was the related content system that the largest content network was using… it was a no brainer. I started using Outbrain, and the results were very un accurate, nothing compared to Linkwithin, the only improvement were the stats OB provided. I contacted their support staff, received generic responses… I was very unhappy with it. Then I read about nRelate, gave it try, the staff was very happy to work with a big site, answered all my doubts, and were happy to hear my feedback after all the research and my experience with other content related platforms. I implemented it and I saw VERY accurate recommendations. And the stats confirmed, it increased the click thru ratio 5 times. What impressed me the most was that this was done by a very small group of people, who demonstrated to be way better in technology than  a multi million dollar backed company. During my implementation phase I noticed that the people behing nRelate are passionate about their product, which is the most important thing for this kind of companies. They are constantly improving it, adding more features, listening to their users, as they seem to love what they do and they want to be the best ones.

    I am in no way related to nRelate, just a happy user who did his homework with this.

  3. Serena says:

    I am such a fan of Nrelate. Truly impressed by what they have been able to do in such a short time with a dedicated group of highly motivated and dedicated people. So refreshing to find a company that actually follows through with what they promise and are improving daily. They don’t rest on their laurels and make a point to keep raising the bar for quality. Their plug in is fantastic. And who doesn’t love a great underdog story?