PurpleBlack Blog: Nothing but Native Advertising

What You Need to Know About Native Advertising Placements

One of the most significant challenges of advertising is the infamous whitelists and blacklists. These categories are the bane of marketing and need frequent tweaking to ensure that your ad campaigns are profitable. Native advertising platforms like Taboola, Outbrain, Yahoo Gemini, and RevContent, to name a scarce few, also have blacklists and whitelists. You’ll need technical know-how and expert assistance to navigate them. Read ahead to understand how these algorithms work and how to use them to your advantage.

Understanding Blacklists & Whitelists

Running ad campaigns and ad placements on platforms like Taboola, Outbrain, Yahoo Gemini, or any other, is the easy part. However, advertisers cannot always control where the ad placements occur. When checking the traffic sources and results from your campaigns, you might find that some traffic comes from non-premium sites. Or, they may come from non-authoritative sites. While all kinds of traffic are welcome, users from low-quality sites are unlikely to convert and place orders. Since ad placements on these sites are unlikely to translate into orders, they are essentially a waste of money and resources.

Identifying the Right Hosting Websites is Critical

Identifying low-quality sites and relegating them to the discard pile is blacklisting. Executing this step in your marketing efforts can make the ultimate difference when running a profitable campaign. It’s how you can improve the approach to target only end-users who are most likely to make a purchase. On the flip side, making the necessary adjustments ensures that your ad placements appear only on top-ranking sites with high-profile users. This process is whitelisting or selecting high-grade sites to post native ads. Running ads on the wrong blacklist or whitelist can result in a perfectly-executed campaign getting no traffic. Or the wrong kind of traffic that will not convert.

Setting Up Whitelists and Blacklists on Native Advertising Platforms

Let’s take a look at how to allowing and blocking work on, say, a traffic source like Outbrain.

  1. You’ll set up a self-service account on Outbrain.com, add your payment credentials, and initiate the ad creation process.
  2. You’ll start a brand-new campaign using the standard settings provided with a self-service account. Typically, such accounts don’t come with Outbrain representative assistance. This perk is only available to higher-tier accounts that cost a little bit more.
  3. As the campaign runs and you spend money, you can check the account and sections which indicate the ad placements. In other words, you can check the traffic and the source websites where the traffic is coming from.
  4. The analytics may show you that some of the traffic comes from websites you’ve never heard of before. Not only are they not credible Outbrain or native ad placements, but you might note that what you’re getting is push traffic. Unfortunately, these sites are what they call, link farms. Or, low-quality sites created for the sole purpose of advertising without offering any real value to their readers. While push traffic isn’t altogether bad, the downside is that it has a lower conversion rate than premium publishers.
  5. To get around the problem, you’ll need a blacklist to eliminate these websites for native ad placements. However, since Outbrain does not offer you this setting, you must use the next best alternative. You’ll use whitelists.

How Whitelisting Works

The Outbrain platform has a dedicated safelist for every country where it offers services. When you check the settings, you’ll see performance whitelists for the USA, Germany, Singapore, and so on. In this section, there’s a list of premium websites that Outbrain confirms are brand-safe and working well. If you want to upload a safelist of your preferred sites, you’ll have to engage the assistance of Outbrain reps. Only these personnel have the authority and access to upload lists for you. 

You’ll email the reps and request a dedicated whitelist specific to your country. You’ll also check with them if they have experience with your particular niche of products and services. Remember, account holders can only use the allowlist approach if they are willing to invest in a premium account. Getting the premium account can help you avoid having to manually add and delete websites. This task is expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive. That’s because, we’re talking about not just hundreds, but possibly, thousands of websites worldwide where the ad will be visible.

Whitelists are Critical for the Success of Your Campaign

In short, you’ll get access to Outbrain’s safelist only with the assistance of a rep, and that’s possible only with a premium account. The downside of using the self-service account on Outbrain is that you won’t get legit premium traffic. People experimenting with Outbrain typically give it up quickly, since they find that they’re spending money without getting any ROI. Or significant conversions and profits that would make sense to keep the campaign running.

Native Advertising Involves Several Factors

Several factors contribute to successful native advertising and ad placements. You’ll need the ideal combination of slick copywriting, a Call to Action, concise sales copy, and more. But, the most critical aspect is undoubtedly the whitelists. Without getting ad placement on suitable websites, you’ll have a negligible chance of conversions. For instance, if your ad were to appear on a gaming site. And, the user has to skip the ad to continue playing a game. The ad will quickly become an annoyance, and worse, the user is unlikely to stop playing to place orders. 

Let’s reiterate. Push traffic is not necessarily a bad thing. But, given a choice between safelists and push notifications, you’ll certainly see more significant results when using premium sites. Ultimately, you could end up spending a lot more without whitelists because you’ll use a broad approach. The entire process of selecting and rejecting websites for ad placements is a time-consuming task. You could end up wasting time, money, and resources if you don’t choose the safelist approach.

Advertisers Can Create Customized Whitelists and Blacklists

As mentioned in the preceding sections, there are several platforms for native advertising. While we’ve only talked about Outbrain, know that the other platforms have their blacklists and whitelists. Further, most advertisers have customized lists of their own. They use third-party tools to acquire optimized safelists per various criteria like traffic volume. However, you may want to consider this option carefully since they are virtual or digital tools and may not be effective. A safer option is to use the legit safelist or denylist provided by the traffic source you’re using.

How to Distinguish Between a Legit Blacklist or Whitelist and a Third-Party List

Let’s start with an example. You contact the Outbrain rep and request a performance whitelist for Canada or the USA. The agent will send you a list of verified placements that are brand-safe and performance-based. Further, these sites provide assured conversions and not just impressions. But, if you work with a virtual blacklist, you’ll start with a random bunch of sites. You’ll select a website and place a native ad on it. After spending, say, $100 or more, you may realize that while you’re getting impressions, the leads are not converting. So, you move this website to the virtual denylist you’ve created. 

You’ll now move to the next site on your site and allocate, say, $300 or more for just 2 placements. After checking to evaluate the results and conversions, you’ll decide to reject it for further placements or block it. As a result, although you will get a lot of impressions, the data and conversions from the legit whitelist are much more valuable. And profitable, for that matter. Of course, there’s always the possibility that specific whitelist ad placements don’t work very well for your product niche. You’ll simply deselect or deactivate these sites from the list and move forward with the ones that work.

Can You Start Ad Placements Without a Legit Whitelist? Yes, You Can!


While you can start ad placements without a safelist, you should also prepare to allocate much more time and money. Working without a whitelist makes your ad campaigns high-risk. Yes, your campaign will be visible on premium sites, but it will also be visible on sites providing push traffic. You can’t be sure if these sources are working or not to get you conversions and actual sales. But, if you choose to get a safelist, you get assurance that the placement will work well as performance-based campaigns for lead generation and eCommerce companies. And, any other projects you’re promoting. 

So, you see, a legit whitelist can transform even an average ad campaign into a profitable marketing strategy. On the flip side, an outstanding campaign can yield negative results when backed by a blacklist. Even the best of funnels won’t get you anywhere if you’re running the wrong placements. Setting up the suitable bids and creating effective funnels can be profitable only when using legit safelists.

In Conclusion

Like many advertisers dipping their toes into the marketing sphere, you might start with the basic self-service account. In that case, you’ll lose out on the assistance and expertise of the platform’s rep. Yes, you can create and initiate a campaign, but you won’t get access to legit whitelists and blacklists. Your ad will run on just about every website the traffic source offers without premium placements. All kinds of traffic will hit your website without any actual conversions. 

At the same time, it is crucial you remember that native advertising involves several other aspects. Safelists and denylists are only some of them. You’ll also need copywriting expertise, creating slick editorials with the optimum bids, and technical know-how on how funnels work. Not only do you need to include these elements, but you should also know how to optimize them. That’s how you’ll create a profitable native ad campaign and ensure maximum conversions. 
Native advertising requires a bigger budget and higher ad spend that other marketing channels like say, social media. If you want to make sure that you’re getting your money’s worth, it is advisable to rely on the experts. Contact us at Purple Black and schedule your free consultation. We’d love to share how our ideas and expertise get you maximum conversions, traffic, and ROI.