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