3 Top AdWords Alternatives

Getting all your paid traffic from Google AdWords?

Most business owners who rely on AdWords to drive most of the traffic to their website don’t realize that AdWords ain’t the only game in town.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I love AdWords. I’m in it every day and, all things considered, I think it’s the greatest advertising platform around.

But, you shouldn’t be relying on Google for all your paid traffic.

Why? Well, for any one or more of the following reasons…

  1. Relying on a single source of traffic – no matter what it is – is a very dangerous position to be in
  2. AdWords is getting more competitive by the day and click costs can be extremely high
  3. If you don’t play by their rules, Google can and will ban your account
  4. There may very well be other sources of traffic you’re missing out on that can deliver more traffic and/or more sales at a much lower cost per conversion than AdWords.

So, if you’re looking to diversify your traffic sources and/or have maxed out AdWords and still want to drive more paid traffic, here are the first 3 places I’d recommend you turn to…

Bing Ads

This is the most obvious option out there. Bing Ads is basically Bing’s version of AdWords. It serves traffic on both Bing and Yahoo! which, together, account for about 30{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} of search engine traffic.

A few years ago I would try to avoid Bing Ads at all costs because it had a clunky interface, a horrible feature set and all sorts of bugs that would drive me crazy.

But they’ve really cleaned up their act in the last few years. It’s still not quite as elegant as AdWords, but it’s much closer.

The good thing for AdWords users is that because Bing knows AdWords rules the paid search marketplace, they’ve made it extremely easy to import your AdWords campaign into Bing Ads. They have a handy import feature that allows you to connect directly to your AdWords account or, the method I prefer, you can export your AdWords campaigns from the AdWords Editor and import that file into Bing.

Either way, you don’t have to recreate the wheel and can have your Bing Ads campaign up in less than 30 minutes.

(Quick Tip – After you import an AdWords campaign into Bing, double check your settings. At the very least I’d recommend lowering your bid prices by at least 10{a950ddf0e7a23367a7e0f17377d3737fa8b8b1820bab9af7071f88951eb5d84e} and make sure your geographic targeting settings were imported correctly.)

Bing Ads is not going to drive nearly the amount of traffic that AdWords does but we’ve found, especially for B2B type niches, you’ll find higher conversion rates with Bing.

And click costs are generally much lower on Bing because there’s not as much competition there. In fact, in some highly competitive markets, you may want to start with Bing Ads to try to generate leads at an acceptable ROI before trying to battle it out on the killing fields of AdWords.

Before we move on, one last tip for Bing Ads… only run your campaigns on Bing and Yahoo! and NOT on the ‘search partners’ sites. We’ve found the search partner traffic to be rather poor quality and usually avoid it.

Facebook Ads

Facebook is another platform that’s really upped its paid advertising game lately. In fact, there are situations where the quantity and quality of the paid traffic you can get with Facebook will leave Google in the dust.

In fact, earlier this year we set up an AdWords campaign for a friend of mine who was using Facebook paid advertising to get a few hundred sign ups a month for his offer. We tried Google Search traffic, Google Display Network and even YouTube advertising through AdWords but the traffic was WAY more expensive and we couldn’t even come close to generating the number of sign ups he was getting from Facebook (despite our best efforts!).

There are a few main reasons Facebook paid ads have gotten so much better lately.

First are the News Feed ads. It used to be that your ads on Facebook would only show up on the right side of the screen and were easy for users to ignore. Now, you can show ads right in people’s News Feeds along with updates from their friends, companies they’re following, etc.

It’s much harder for people to ignore the News Feed ads and their clickthrough rates dwarf the clickthrough rates of the ads in the right sidebar.

Second is the introduction of the Power Editor. Among other things, the Power Editor gives you access to data from a few Big Data providers which allows you to target people in ways that were never possible before.

Facebook advertising was always an interesting option because you could target people based on information in their Facebook profiles. So, for example, things like Relationship Status, favorite movies/books/etc., and the Facebook pages they like were all fair game (and still are).

But with Big Data, you can now target people by data about them gathered from offline sources too. So, for example, you can target people who are “cereal buyers”, those who have donated to certain categories of charities, those who take “Casino vacations” and much MUCH more!

This opens a whole new world of demographic targeting options that aren’t available to most advertisers any other way. If you’re trying to reach a specific demographic or people with certain buying behaviors, Facebook paid ads are definitely worth experimenting with.

Retargeting platforms

Yes, Google has remarketing but you can do retargeting campaign on a number of other platforms as well.

Even if you’re not familiar with the term retargeting, you know what it is. If you go to a website looking for shoes, household items, software, etc. and then leave that site and are immediately bombarded with ads for the products you just looked at, that’s retargeting (though not necessarily done well!).

It works by having code on your website that places a cookie on the machine of visitors to your site (Hint: you can place the code in HTML emails or FB pages too). Then, when they leave your site, you can show ads to them for your products/services when they visit other websites that display ads on them.

AdRoll is probably the best known 3rd party retargeting platform around these days, but there are plenty of others including Retargeter, Fetchback, Simpl.fi and more.

Personally, we’ve not had good results with AdRoll. They seem to charge a premium for traffic and there’s not a lot of transparency in your campaigns. Of the 3rd party options out there, right now we’re focusing our efforts around Perfect Audience (which allows you to retarget to users on Facebook and Twitter), though it’s a little too soon to fully endorse them.

If you’re already getting a decent amount of traffic to your website and are NOT using retargeting, you’re missing out. It’s a great way to get people back to your site who’ve already shown an interest in what you offer but weren’t ready to pull the trigger yet. It can also be a great way to market to current clients with upsell and cross sell offers.

Also, retargeting clicks tend to be fairly inexpensive, especially when compared to AdWords Search traffic.


If you’re looking for additional sources of paid traffic, the above would be my top 3. But there are plenty of others out there. Do you have a favorite? If so, please share it in the comment section below.

Kevin Banet - July 3, 2014

Adam, I understand that Facebook now has its own retargeting feature. And it’s supposed to be cheaper than the third-party vendors. This is what I read on Jon Loomer’s blog.

    Adam Kreitman - August 4, 2014

    Hi Kevin-

    We haven’t played around with FB’s feature much yet. It could very well be cheaper than the 3rd party tools because you don’t have to pay a premium so the 3rd party tools can make their money. But there are a lot of factors that determine how much you pay for an ad so I’d test both options out and see which works better for you.


suraj - July 28, 2015

Great post and thank you for sharing

Danny - November 17, 2016

Hi Adam
Could you advise what your findings are on each of Retargeter, Fetchback, Simpl.fi ?

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