5 Best Google Ads Alternatives To Diversify & Grow



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It’s no secret the Google Ads platform has long dominated the online advertising marketing share.

Google’s network is one of the best places for brands to get their products or services in front of consumers, and the wide range of ad offerings 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 campaign performance has hit a plateau or you’re just looking to diversify and reach new audiences, you have options.

Reasons to Expand Beyond Google Ads

There are multiple reasons to diversify your ad platform strategy instead of relying on just one. Here are three key reasons to expand:

  • Rising costs per click (CPCs) and competition in Google Ads.
  • Decreased efficiencies as impression share rises.
  • Untapped audiences and user segments.

Addressing Rising CPCs and Competition

Remember the days of free Google Shopping listings and branded keyword CPCs well below $1? Life was a lot easier then – and less expensive.

Today, it’s not rare to see certain industries report on CPCs well over $50 per click.

A combination of thinning marketing budgets and higher CPCs means less website traffic for brands. This makes a compelling argument to branch outside of Google Ads.

High Impression Share Doesn’t Always Equal High Return on Ad Spend (ROAS)

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.

Not only is your target market tapped out, but campaigns are also likely underperforming because the same people are seeing your ads over and over.

Likely, these users have either:

  • Already purchased your product or service.
  • Still in shopping or discovery mode.
  • Decided your product isn’t the right fit.

Maximizing impression share is likely leading to decreased cost efficiency metrics, such as a lower return on ad spend (ROAS) or lower conversion rate.

Untapped Audiences & User Segments

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

With Microsoft’s launch of AI-powered Bing earlier this year, it’s a force to be reckoned with.

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

All this being said, below are my top five favorite Google Ads platform alternatives.

#1: Microsoft Ads

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

In fact, Microsoft Bing serves 13.2 billion searches each month.

Some of the main reasons to use Microsoft Ads include:

  • Historically lower CPCs and competition.
  • Easy-to-use Google Ads import.
  • Unique audience targeting capabilities.

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. It’s 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 new feature Microsoft has that Google doesn’t: a recent collaboration with Roku.

The first-of-its-kind partnership offers unique cross-channel data insights, providing better targeting options for advertisers and a new way to connect with potential customers.

#2: LinkedIn Ads

This platform is a must for testing, especially for B2B companies.

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.

You’ll need a decent-sized testing budget (at least $3,000/month) to ensure you can measure the full impact and potential.

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

What does this mean for business?

  • Higher relevancy.
  • More closed deals.

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 coveted targeting options to choose from include (but are not limited to):

  • Job Titles (most expensive).
  • Company Industry.
  • Job Function.
  • Member Skills.
  • Member 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:

Sponsored Newsfeed Ads

  • Single Image.
  • Video.
  • Carousel.
  • Event.
  • Document.

Sponsored Messaging Ads

  • Message Ads.
  • Conversation Ads.

Lead Gen Forms

#3: Apple Search Ads

This advertising platform is essential for app companies.

In the last 12 months, Apple has more than doubled its ad placement opportunities and inventory in the app store.

With Apple’s introduction of App Tracking Transparency in 2021, making it more difficult to attribute ad efforts on other platforms, Apple has an advantage with its own platform.

The following targeting options are available for app advertisers:

  • Device type.
  • Location.
  • Keyword.
  • Customer type.
  • Demographics.

Apple Search Ads currently offers the following ad format options, covering top-to-bottom funnel users:

  • Today Tab Ads. This ad format leverages a custom product page you create in App Store Connect. Use this format if you’re targeting users in a discovery phase.
  • Search Tab Ads. This ad format is shown at the top of the search tab when a user searches for apps. It shows above any organic listing.
  • Search Results Ads. This ad format allows keyword bidding to show in the Search Tab when a user searches. It leverages the app store listing or a custom product page created.
  • Product Page Ads. This ad format shows when users are actively researching a particular app’s product page. It’s shown at the bottom of a product page.

Apple offers a Basic platform for beginners or an Advanced platform for experienced advertisers.

Another benefit is that there’s no minimum spend or investment. Apple Ads pricing uses a cost-per-tap (CPT) model, which is just like Google’s cost-per-click (CPC) model.

#4: The Trade Desk Platform

This platform has both a publisher-side and demand-side platform. For advertisers, we’re focusing on the demand-side platform (DSP).

If you’re looking for a more controlled experience for Display or Video ads compared to Google Ads, The Trade Desk (TDD) programmatic platform is worth testing.

The DSP allows better, more connected experiences across different devices with the ability to measure performance.

From a targeting perspective, advertisers have an almost endless supply of audience segments, which can include first and third-party data.

Additionally, advertisers can leverage buyer and contextual signals to build audiences, including:

  • Retail purchases.
  • Offline actions.
  • Behavioral data.
  • In-app data.
  • Connected TV data.

Advertisers have access to over 150 publishers on The Trade Desk.

The programmatic platform gives advertisers the ability to reach exclusive and premium inventory across the following areas:

  • Connected TV.
  • Video.
  • Audio.
  • Digital Out of Home.
  • Mobile.
  • Native.
  • Display.

Just recently, TDD announced major upgrades to its platform, including its new AI platform, Kokai.

So, while TDD doesn’t have a Search component, programmatic plays a vital component in an overarching marketing strategy.

#5: 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 with B2B brands, but more B2C brands are seeing success with Quora lately.

Quora currently has over 300 million monthly active users and over 300,000 unique topics.

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 for your brand in the long run.

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).
  • Audience targeting (website traffic, customer match, lookalike).
  • Behavioral targeting (interest, keyword, or question history).
  • Broad targeting (including auto-targeting).

Quora’s ad format offerings have also expanded in recent years. The platform now offers:

  • Text Ads.
  • Image Ads.
  • Promoted Answers.
  • Lead Gen Forms.
  • Video Ads.

In Summary

An effective digital marketing strategy is all about reaching the right user, at the right time, with the right message.

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

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

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

More resources:

Featured Image: eamesBot/Shutterstock

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