When we talk about paid advertising, it’s rare that the conversation ever moves beyond Google Adwords. After all, it’s quick, easy to understand, and really easy to measure. However, it does have its downsides.
Being managed by Google, this does give Adwords a good ‘trust rating’, however, it also means there are a few limitations. Due to the relative monopoly that Google Adwords has on the PPC market, there’s very little to compare it with. This means that it’s very difficult to decide whether the ‘Cost Per Click’ (CPC) that you’re paying represents good value for money.
Another consideration is that the CPC model is only really suited to ads that appear at the ‘point of sale’; i.e. when a potential customer is ready to buy your product / service, not at the ‘awareness’ stage.
Finally, though it’s very easy to set up an AdWords campaign and get it running, running it well takes time, experience and a great deal of technical knowledge. Unfortunately, unless you have this knowledge and experience, it’s very likely that you are wasting money.
What all these factors mean is that Google Adwords isn’t the perfect solution that many SME’s assume it is.
So, what are the best Adwords alternatives?
1. Other Ad Networks
Google Adwords is an ad network. This means that it gives advertisers access to it’s entire search and display network (sites using AdSense). Though it is the biggest ad network by a long way, there are others.
Bing and Yahoo also have a considerable network. As they are also search focused networks, they work in a very similar way to Google Adwords. You can even import all your Google Adwords campaigns directly from your account into Bing.
Bing offers a cheaper alternative to Google Adwords. However, although its CPCs are much lower in most cases, the exposure you get is also greatly reduced. The way most businesses approach Bing is to allocate a percentage (20-40%) of their current AdWords spend to the Bing network.
2. Social Media Advertising
Social Media Advertising has had a huge impact on the ad market. Due to the detailed personal information that Twitter and Facebook have access to you, the targeting works in a slightly different way to Adwords or Bing. Social media platforms allow you to target ads at users based on location, interests, connections, age and a whole list of other criteria.
With the introduction of social media, potential customers will often make first contact with a company, brand or organisation through social media. When you couple this with (generally) much lower CPCs, social media advertising is certainly something businesses should be at least experimenting with. If you can make first contact here, then when they do see your search ad (AdWords) they will be far more likely to click through.
3. Direct Advertising
Direct advertising is the most commonly overlooked online advertising channel. With Adwords, Twitter and Facebook making it so easy to part with your advertising budget, it’s easy to ignore alternatives. However, due to the dominance of the ad networks, there are many highly lucrative opportunities for businesses willing to put in the time.
By dealing directly with website owners, you can drastically cut the costs of your ad impressions. Think of it like ‘old school’ newspaper or magazine advertising. You’d pick a suitable publication, call the advertising rep, negotiate a rate for a particular ad then see your ad in the next edition. It’s exactly the same with websites.
This tactic is particularly beneficial for companies who operate in competitive or high cost ad sectors. Companies working in the financial services, legal or property sectors can often expect to pay £5+ per click on Google Adwords. In these cases, striking up a beneficial direct advertising relationship with a website owner could lead to you cutting your advertising costs by s much as 10X!
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Google Adwords is the only way to go. Sure, it will always have its place – but it should only form part of your overall ad strategy. In most cases, the simple fact that it’s where everyone else is makes it an uneconomical place for you to be. Don’t follow the crowd. Break out and you could uncover some great opportunities – and make some fantastic savings.
Also, if you liked the sound of direct advertising, why not get in touch. We manage a large network of websites with traffic in a wide range of targeted niches. We’ll even create your ad banners for FREE!
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