Google ads are popular. Around 80 percent of global firms use the search engine’s platform for pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns.
However, viable alternatives are now emerging, giving brands more choice over the advertising platform they use. Bing ads, Pinterest Promoted Pins, and even Amazon ads are now mainstream, letting businesses diversify their approach to online marketing and reduce costs.
This post explores the best Google Ads alternatives and how to use them effectively. We will explore the current digital advertising landscape, why you should seek alternatives, and some of your best options, including Bing, Facebook, Twitter, and Quora.
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Exploring the Digital Advertising Landscape
Google Ads dominates the digital advertising landscape and has done so for a long time. The search engine has a tremendous lead over rivals, such as Bing, and even competes effectively with social media platforms for time spent on its site. The Google display network is enormous compared to the alternatives, which is why so many brands choose to use it.
However, Google ads campaigns are not the only option. Other platforms exist and are becoming increasingly popular for reaching target users.
Generally, companies have a choice of two alternatives to Google Ads.
The first is Web 2.0 alternatives, such as Facebook advertising and Microsoft Ads. These operate on similar principles, collecting user data and using this for contextual targeting and generating leads. Companies run ads on these alternative platforms to reach users who might not automatically use Google. Consumers may prefer Bing’s interface or use Microsoft’s browser when firing up Windows by default. And many view Facebook as the Internet, rarely venturing beyond it.
The other alternative to Google Ads is so-called privacy-preserving platforms. Unlike Google and the rest of big tech, these abolish user data mining, creating a more sustainable approach to generating website traffic.
Why Seek Alternatives to Google Ads?
There are several reasons businesses seek alternatives to Google Ads. Some of these make commercial sense, while others relate to the limitations of the Google Ads platform.
For example, privacy is becoming a significant concern on Google Ads. Users worry about the data search engines collect when they click on search ads. The movement towards Web 3.0 may make this advertising platform significantly less popular or even obsolete.
However, catering to users’ desire for privacy is not the only reason to seek alternatives to Google Ads. Another factor is ad spend. While Google has significantly more reach than most other platforms, businesses pay a high price versus the broader digital advertising industry, even for text ads. Many companies are looking for an advertising network that makes it more affordable to reach their target audience of Internet users.
The following sections describe some of the best Google Ads alternatives to generate leads.
Bing Ads: Microsoft’s Competitive Ad Platform
Microsoft Ads platform is growing thanks to Bing’s recent strong performance. Its ChatGPT integration has given the service a new lease on life, improving its market share.
Consequently, brands are taking Microsoft advertising more seriously and wondering how it can help them reach their objectives. The platform offers an array of ad formats, including regular display ads, video ads, and text ads. Search ads work similarly to Google Adwords, allowing firms to pick an advertising budget and run campaigns based on that.
While Bing’s 900 million daily searches seem small compared to Google’s 7 billion, the search engine represents a significant opportunity for companies looking to reach audiences with dynamic search ads inexpensively. Bid prices on top-tier commercial keywords are high for Google shopping ads but significantly lower on Microsoft’s platform.
Unfortunately, if you are concerned about user privacy, switching from Google to Microsoft advertising won’t help. Like other digital advertisers, the tech giant still collects enormous amounts of data from potential customers.
Facebook Ads: Leveraging Social Media Reach
Facebook Ads are another obvious alternative to Google. The popular social media platform has an enormous user base (to rival Google’s) of more than two billion people, making it one of the best alternatives to conventional search campaigns.
Even so, Facebook is a fundamentally different advertising platform from Google. The former has tremendous insights into the psychology of its users, enabling advertisers to construct superior top-of-funnel campaigns to build brand awareness.
Moreover, unlike Google search ads, Facebook relies more on video and visual advertising. While users are willing to type direct queries into Google, they want to use Facebook more casually. Few people use the platform to find specific products (though that is possible).
However, privacy intrusions may be worse than Google. Facebook collects information about the profiles users view, the content they share, and even their private chats. As such, while the platform might offer the ability to run audio ads and potent video campaigns, it brings the same limitations as the big tech companies. The shift towards Web 3.0 could see its and other social media platforms’ popularity fall as users search for alternatives.
LinkedIn Ads: Targeting the Professional Network
LinkedIn Ads primarily target professional networks. B2B companies love it because it enables them to reach clients without competing with consumer-facing firms.
The main benefit of using LinkedIn is its native advertising capabilities. It is an excellent option for companies wanting to spread their message via content marketing. That’s because the platform is highly conducive to blog posts and articles on professional topics, enabling more relevant ad campaigns.
Targeting is also better on LinkedIn than most other platforms, including Google. Targeting options include users’ job titles, company size, job function (to target decision-makers), member skills, and interests or groups. Various ad forms are also available, allowing brands to create ads that better communicate their values, mission, products, and services. Ad types include single images, video ads, carousel ads, event advertising, and document ads.
Of course, superior targeting capabilities come at a price. Cost-per-click is generally higher on LinkedIn than for an advertising campaign on the Google partners network. But most companies are willing to pay the price because of the improved benefits.
Amazon Advertising: Dominating E-commerce Space
Amazon ads are for brands wanting to dominate the e-commerce space. The company cleverly introduced this new type of retail advertising on its platform in 2012, helping it prioritize some products on an otherwise crowded site. Amazon now has more than 300 million active customer accounts and offers ads that make it easier for product-based brands to reach their target audiences.
The most significant benefit of Amazon ads as advertising alternatives to Google ads is that they target consumers already in the mood to buy. People don’t go on Amazon for entertainment or look up information. Instead, it is a purely commercial platform.
Like other advertising platforms, Amazon offers various ad types. Sponsored products are ads that appear on Amazon’s product pages, prioritizing specific lines to make them more visible to users. By contrast, Sponsored Display ads are ads that appear across the web.
Amazon’s approach to advertising is one of the best alternatives to Google for larger firms. These can meet the platform’s strict pricing minimums on ads. The e-commerce giant also offers a lower cost-per-click (CPC) than many search engines and a higher return on investment because site visitors want to buy.
Small brands, though, may struggle with the platform. While it offers stellar economics for high-flying firms, smaller players may find it too pricey to use its advertising services.
Twitter (or X) Promoted Tweets: For Real-time Engagement
If you’re on a smaller budget or running a personal brand, you might consider Twitter as a Google Adwords alternative. It’s well-known for its ability to provide brands with real-time engagement opportunities, allowing you to communicate with your audience directly and build an engaged community.
Twitter ads are expensive but help you grow your Twitter following and become better known on the network. Successful solopreneurs have used them to grow gigantic audiences in months, helping them set up six- and seven-figure businesses.
Many brands see Twitter (now X) as a top-of-funnel platform. Ad content on the site directs traffic to posts and profile pages containing links that forward users to landing and product pages.
Twitter makes it easier for more “intellectual” businesses to communicate with their audiences because of the most active people on the site. Many are thought leaders in their respective fields. Tweeted ads can demonstrate expertise and build social credibility to encourage loyal followers. And unlike ads on search result pages, you can include your brand logo and more details about what you offer and why you are the best.
Brands that used Twitter to promote their services successfully include:
These businesses started small and used Twitter to grow their empire without solely relying on a search engine.
Pinterest Promoted Pins: Visual Advertising Excellence
Pinterest Promoted Pins are another option for brands looking for Google Ads alternatives. These image ads let you target specific locations, demographics, and mobile devices of users showing interest in your products or services.
Pinterest is perhaps the best of the Google Adwords alternatives for businesses selling highly visual items. Like Instagram ads, the home remodeling, décor, and travel industries use it regularly to encourage impulse purchases.
Promoted Pins operate similarly to Google Ads. However, Promoted Video Pins and Promoted Carousels are more engaging and able to generate more website traffic. Ad spend is also significantly lower than on Google because of decreased competition, making it easier to stay in the green financially.
Moreover, you can run native ads on Pinterest, like LinkedIn, blending your content into regular user content for contextual targeting. Browsing Pinterest feels pleasurable for users and not like a hard sell.
The downside, of course, is the platform’s lower popularity. While it still invites millions of clicks daily, it can’t compete with Google for general reach.
Snapchat Ads: Reaching the Younger Demographics
Snapchat ads are another alternative to Google Adwords, enabling brands to reach younger audiences. An estimated 90 percent of the platform’s user base is under 25.
Ad formats are primarily visual, include minimal text elements, and take up the entire screen on mobile devices. Designers can use them to show off their brands’ personalities and be creative in ways that appeal to younger audiences. Various CTAs are available, including app and URL visits, app installs, and phone calls or SMS.
Video ads containing live motion graphics are also commonplace on Snapchat. Like native ads, these are naturally immersive and attention-grabbing, potentially increasing click-through rates and enabling firms to reach their target audience.
However, Snapchat’s marketing options aren’t perfect. The main limitation is the demographics. Hardly any people of “prime income-producing age” use the platform, meaning the value of customers on the site is low. (Most marketers target those aged 35 or older with higher incomes or substantial savings).
Perhaps more critically, brands don’t have much opportunity to convey nuanced messages. Snapchat prevents text-heavy ads, making it harder for businesses in some industries to communicate about their products and services.
Finally, you can’t track true engagement on the platform or reshare ads. Again, this prevents advertising from reaching a wider audience.
Quora Ads: Capitalizing on Curiosity
Finally, we are seeing more brands becoming interested in Quora ads. That’s because the site’s question-and-answer framework makes it more straightforward to capture user intent. Well-designed campaigns often achieve higher CPCs than responsive search ads in search results.
Historically, Quora was popular among B2B businesses thanks to its ability to present long-form answers that could communicate directly with company decision-makers. However, it is now becoming more popular among consumer brands.
Quora is no longer a small platform. An estimated 300 million people use the ad network monthly, searching for answers across a staggering 300,000 unique topics. As such, brands in practically any niche can leverage it for targeted ads.
As a Google ads alternative, Quora offers the same features as the Google Display Network. Businesses can use contextual targeting, behavioral targeting, and targeting based on audience characteristics. Ad format options include text ads, video ads, lead generation forms image ads, and promoted answers.
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