Search Engine Journal

5 Best Google Ads Alternatives to Diversify & Grow

It’s no secret the Google Ads platform has long dominated the digital advertising industry.

Google Search is one of the best places for brands to get their products or services in front of consumers, and the wide-ranging Ads network makes it that much more attractive.

But Google Ads aren’t the only way to drive new customers and re-engage existing ones.

If your performance has hit a plateau or you’re just looking to diversify and reach new audiences, you have options.

Reasons to Expand Outside of Google Ads

Here are three main reasons I’d recommend additional platforms:

Rising CPCs and Competition

Google Shopping was free up until 2012. Life was good and traffic was flowing.

Nowadays, it’s not uncommon to see certain industry CPCs well over $50 per click.

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With marketing budgets stretched thin, the possibility of getting less traffic for more could compel you to branch outside of Google Ads.

Maxed Out Impression Share

Have your Google Ads campaigns reached a performance plateau?

Be sure to check your Search Impression Share metrics. If your brand is consistently showing up almost 100% of the time, you’re tapping out your current market.

Untapped Audiences & User Pools

As popular as Google is, it is not everyone’s default search engine.

There are tons of platforms that allow you to get in front of your customers before they even start their search!

Check out these top five Google Marketing platform alternatives; they’re my personal favorites.

1. Microsoft Ads

There are so many reasons to love Microsoft Ads. With its increasing partnerships with companies such as LinkedIn, Microsoft continues to gain market share.

In fact, over 699 million global unique PC users now use Microsoft.

Some of the main reasons to use Microsoft Ads include:

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  • Historically lower CPCs and competition.
  • Easy-to-use Google Ads import.
  • LinkedIn Ads integration for advanced audience targeting.

Many of my clients have grown into Microsoft Ads after seeing success in Google. On average, our clients dedicate anywhere from 15-25% of their marketing budget to this channel (and it’s growing).

If your brand is in a competitive industry with high CPCs, testing out Microsoft Search Ads is a no-brainer. Lower CPCs will gain your brand more traffic at an efficient spend level.

If you’re wondering how to manage two platforms instead of one, keep in mind that Microsoft has many of the same features as Google Ads. They’ve also created an easy-to-use import feature.

This allows you to control and manage which search campaigns you’d like to replicate and move to the platform.

There’s no need to re-create your top-performing campaigns from scratch with this feature!

Lastly, let’s not forget about a feature Microsoft has that Google doesn’t: LinkedIn integration.

Microsoft’s partnership with LinkedIn gives companies the ability to layer on audience targeting directly from a user’s LinkedIn profile. You can bid up or down based on the following attributes:

  • Company.
  • Industry.
  • Job Function.

2. Quora Ads

Quora Ads has a unique question-and-answer content platform that enables you to capture user search intent. Typically, this platform has performed well in B2B brands, but more B2C brands are seeing success with Quora lately.

Not only can Quora bring valuable traffic to your site, but it can also help with your company’s Brand Authority.

Because users are looking for reliable answers and support from a community, showing up as a trusted brand can increase long-term support to your brand in the long run.

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Since introducing Quora Ads, the platform has expanded its offerings to multiple ad formats and targeting options.

This platform has similar targeting features as the Google Display Network and YouTube Ads, such as:

  • Contextual targeting (questions, topics, or keywords).
  • Behavioral targeting (interest, keyword, or question history).
  • Demographics.
  • Customer Match.

Pair these targeting features with sponsored feed ads or native-looking text ads, and Quora Ads is perfect for a hyper-targeted campaign.

3. Adobe Advertising Cloud

I’ll be the first to admit that Adobe Advertising Cloud is not for every company.

Typically, this platform ideally serves enterprise companies or complex brands. If you’re looking for a suite of tools that include Search, Display, DSP, Social, and cross-channel marketing, Adobe Advertising Cloud may be for you.

Adobe Advertising Cloud has many features, including a few of my favorites:

  • Audience sharing across platforms.
  • Complex bidding portfolios based on individual goals.
  • Unifying data across channels.

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The platform does not come cheap, so if cost is a concern it’s best to do your research before signing a contract.

From past experience, Adobe will charge a percentage of advertising spend for platform fees. With enterprise-level spending, that can add up quickly.

The bidding models and capabilities with Adobe are impressive but there is a learning curve to setting up goal weights based on your company’s priorities.

Like Google, Adobe has a whole suite of guides, courses, and training to help you master the platform.

4. LinkedIn Ads

I briefly mentioned LinkedIn when discussing Microsoft Ads, but I wanted to dedicate an entire section to this platform.

In B2B, this platform is a must for testing.

Not surprisingly, LinkedIn Ads have gained popularity over the years, meaning more competition. If you’re looking to test the platform, expect to see higher CPCs.

We typically recommend a $3,000/month testing budget to ensure you can measure the full impact and potential.

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Don’t let potentially high CPCs steer you away. Many B2B companies find more qualified users on LinkedIn.

What does this mean for business?

Because of the success of this platform, many companies find themselves willing to pay more for that initial interaction because of the highly targeted capabilities.

Some of the targeting options to choose from include (but are not limited to):

  • Job Titles (most expensive).
  • Company Industry.
  • Job Function.
  • Member Skills.
  • Interests/Groups.
  • Company Size.

Additionally, LinkedIn continues to roll out new ad formats to encourage new and fresh content that users are used to interacting with. Some of the top-used formats include:

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  • Sponsored Newsfeed Ads.
    • Single Image.
    • Video.
    • Carousel.
  • Message Ads (formerly InMail).
  • Conversation Ads.

5. Quantcast

This last platform may not be well-known, but its diverse capabilities deserve to be talked about.

If you’re on the fence about branching out to a new marketing platform, Quantcast has a unique and free tool called Quantcast Measure that allows you to learn about audience behaviors and insights.

Ultimately, this tool can help you make better, more informed decisions about your current targeting on existing platforms.

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The platform also has a paid service in the realm of real-time programmatic advertising. The targeting options include prospecting to new customers, as well as retargeting.

If you’re already using the Google Display Network and unsatisfied with the results, Quantcast is another useful option to test because of its advanced targeting capabilities.

Summary

These days, it’s all about reaching the right user, at the right time, with the right message.

Because of the importance of context and timing, now is the time to explore other options outside of Google Ads.

Each platform listed here has unique characteristics to help reach your goals.

From top-of-funnel traffic and brand awareness to end purchases and leads, diversifying your digital marketing portfolio with multiple platforms helps you create the holistic marketing strategy needed to succeed.

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