Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is simple. Businesses pay for ads to appear on search engine results pages, like Google, Facebook, Instagram, Bing, Yahoo and more.
Every day, 3.5 billion Google searches take place. People are seeking information on all things, whether it be clothing brands, health products, or food delivery options. No matter your type of business, you need to appear in those top results.
That’s where SEM comes in. Your ads are online and easy for potential customers to find. Ad retargeting makes SEM even more effective because it tracks who has visited your site and makes sure they see your ads again. Search Engine Marketing is necessary for your business to grow in today’s competitive climate.
Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is one of the most popular choices for SEM and ad retargeting but that does not mean it is the only option. Here we take a dive into Google Ads and its competitors to see how they compare.
Google Ads is one of the biggest pay-per-click online advertising platforms. It has formerly been well-known under its original name, Google AdWords. The platform itself is free to use and only charges businesses when an ad is actually clicked on. When someone searches certain keywords or phrases, ads with those selected words will appear. This can be on the Google results page itself or on other websites. Google Ads also features remarketing and retargeting tools for businesses to keep fostering the connection with potential customers.
In reviews, customers praise Ads for bringing in new customers and also for being an effective retargeting tool. They love that they are paying for their ads to be shown to audience lists that are developed through cookies, first-party data, or Google’s own generated topics.
“We use Adwords for our shop, and it has been a wealth of knowledge. We use it for remarketing which is the biggest earner from both social and search paid marketing strategies. Now our brand is more than known in our niche space”
~ Joanne Minculescu| Sales Manager | LenjeriiBoutique.ro
Though Google Ads can be a great tool for your marketing team, it is not without its weaknesses. Some customers say that bidding for competitive keywords goes high. Others say the onboarding process and user experience have room to improve.
Pricing for Google Ads is pay-per-click. Businesses set a budget they want to spend and can change that at any time. Pricing varies depending on which keywords you want to target, and the volume of ads you’re looking to display, so contact AdWords directly for a custom quote.
Alternatives to Google Ads
Google Ads is a popular tool that can increase your revenue, but it is not the only option. Here is a list of 14 other platforms that can meet your marketing needs. Because Google Ads is categorized as a Top Rated tool for both Search Engine Marketing and Ad Serving & Retargeting Platforms, in the rest of this article we take a look at alternatives from both categories. They are all selected because they are rated at least 7.0 with at least 21 ratings and reviews.
Keep in mind that some of these products are more focused on paid search specifically, while others focus on display, video, and other types of advertising. Some of these alternatives can also be used in conjunction with AdWords, to cover specific channels/platforms (like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Bing) or advertising strategies (like Terminus’s ABM solution), while others are designed for cross-channel management.
Like Google Ads, Google Marketing Platform, whose name recently changed from DoubleClick, is part of Google’s marketing platform. It is designed to help manage and optimize marketing campaigns across different search engines, by uploading ads, measuring their performance, and using predictive tools to make recommendations.
Users positively report the floodlight system used for tracking conversions across multiple channels. Reviews consistently point to the ease of advanced reporting. These are some of the main capabilities that differentiate Google Marketing Platform from Google Ads. (DoubleClick was an independent product acquired by Google in 2008.)
“DoubleClick has a wide variety of tools such as auto bidding tools, the creation, and tracking of floodlight tags and attribution tools that allows for in-depth analysis of information and the types of traffic that your adverts are driving.”
~ Verified User | Executive in Marketing | Marketing and Advertising Company
For pricing information, contact Google directly.
Raventools is a comprehensive SEO platform that features site auditing, SERP rank tracking, white-label reports and more. This platform also features tools for marketers to manage PPC campaigns.
Customers appreciate this platform as an all-in-one tool with detailed and easy-to-read reporting. They also highlight how Raventools easily integrates with Google marketing tools (including AdWords).
“This is a great program for reporting to clients. There is easy integration for AdWords, Analytics, and Search Console.”
~ Geoffrey Hoesch | CEO (Chief Executive Officer) | Dragonfly Digital Marketing
Pricing ranges from $99 to $399 a month depending on the package that best fits your needs.
AppNexus is an online marketplace for advertising. It offers tools for data management, optimization, advertising campaign support and more. This enterprise technology integrates with other advertising platforms, like DoubleClick and Microsoft’s AdECN.
Customer reviews showcase this enterprise platform’s powerful reporting tools and how the marketplace has solutions for both ad buyers and ad sellers.
“Our digital ad operations department is using Yieldex of AppNexus for reporting on yield. Before Yieldex, we were not able to report on metrics by section or DMA.”
~ Kevin Yip | Online Business & Data Analyst | San Francisco Chronicle
Contact AppNexus directly for pricing information.
4. Bing Ads
Bing Ads is Microsoft’s search engine marketing and advertising campaign management platform. It offers a management dashboard for PPC campaigns running on the Yahoo! Bing Network. Bing Ads integrates with Google AdWords for visibility into ad performance across networks.
User reviews report that Bing Ads complements Google AdWords well when trying to reach other audiences, especially from older generations, who don’t use Google as their default search engine. Reviewers appreciate that pricing is low-cost.
“Bing Ads also helps reach those who are not on Google and overall, drives a higher conversion rate in spite of its lower search volumes.”
~ Ade Fowler | Senior PPC Account Executive | Fetch
Pricing is pay-per-click and businesses can set any budget they choose.
Facebook hosts advertisements on all devices from businesses of any size. This is a search engine marketing solution that offers custom ad creation, ad targeting and powerful analytics for ads appearing on the Facebook platform.
Users note that Facebook for Business is great for targeting new leads based on custom audience dimensions, as well as retargeting. Because it involves placing ad content in a social context based on interests, activities, and demographics, users said it helped effectively build their brand and increase engagement with customers.
“We use it to firstly build brand awareness, as this can directly feed into our PPC campaigns and also to create leads and last touch conversions. Facebook’s detailed targeting allows us to place adverts in front of users who have interests that directly correlate to our clients.”
~ Verified User | Executive in Marketing | Marketing and Advertising Company
To understand pricing, get in contact with Facebook for Business directly.
Sizmek is a comprehensive advertising platform designed for marketers with large-scale marketing campaigns along multiple channels. It features analytics to compare performance across channels and devices, campaign fine-tuning, optimization tools and more.
Customers are happy with Sizmek’s ad serving capabilities and find reporting especially useful when tracking conversions, conversion revenue, and other basic metrics. Sizmek is highly praised for its ease of use and excellent customer support.
“It’s pretty easy to use from an ad serving standpoint, with functionality being intuitive, a lot of great reporting features.”
~ Collin Berg | Freelance Web Developer | SJI Associates
To learn about Sizmek pricing, contact their sales team directly.
Terminus is an account-based marketing platform designed for B2B marketers. Marketers can direct digital advertising campaigns across channels to targeted accounts and analyze engagement, pipeline, and revenue.
Reviewerstrust Terminus to target the right accounts and to provide effective ABM at scale. They also praise the Terminus customer support team for being reliable and helpful.
“Since we first started using Terminus to show display ads to our targeted accounts lists, we’ve seen success with getting in front of accounts we may not have been able to reach via other marketing channels.”
~ Verified User | Director in Marketing | Computer Software Company
Contact Terminus to receive a quote for your business.
Criteo Dynamic Retargeting is specifically designed to re-engage shoppers in order to create sales. It features dynamic video and display ads that are distributed among top publishers and displayed across devices. Performance is measured based upon clicks.
Customers say using Criteo produces retail transactions and they have seen increased return on investment, due to high conversion and low cost. Others commend Criteo for the creative and engaging ads they can produce with Criteo’s design tools.
“It provides a number of solutions that can help you achieve your top KPI in digital marketing, whether, ROI, leads, decrease CPC or CPA.”
~ Luiz Lai | Data Intelligence Specialist | Jüssi
To learn more about Criteo pricing, contact this company directly.
LinkedIn Marketing Solutions is designed to help advertisers reach audiences on the top professional social network.
User reviews praise LinkedIn Marketing Solutions as a great option for B2B marketing. Many users highlight the effectiveness of LinkedIn lead forms which auto-fill the lead’s information into the form rather than using a landing page.
“If your target demographic is spending time on LinkedIn, then it is a great place to spend money. Many professional organizations don’t benefit from marketing on other social platforms (Twitter, Facebook, etc.), so this is a great way to get a different audience.”
~ Chris Gardner | Marketing Director | Simplus
To learn more about how LinkedIn charges for their services, contact their sales team.
OpenX combines an ad serving platform and a real-time bidding exchange. It features inventory management, geo-targeting of ads by country, ad placement management.
Users commend OpenX for being a great tool for large-scale sites to manage their advertising campaigns. According to users, OpenX is great for tracking inventory and analyzing which ads are working best.
“OpenX is well suited from anything from a small blog to a large enterprise serving millions/billions of impressions per month.”
~ Michael Grazziani | Sr. Systems Engineer | Tango Me
Contact OpenX to receive a quote for the services you need.
AdRoll is a growth platform that synchronizes display ads, social ads, and triggered emails to increase conversion rates and generate more revenue.
User reviews highlight AdRoll for its retargeting capabilities and easy-to-use campaign management tools. Others appreciate its lower pricing than alternatives.
“AdRoll is being used across our organization by the marketing team for retargeting ads. It is cheaper than using AdWords and more efficient in reaching a larger range of audiences.”
~ Verified User | Manager in Marketing | Information Technology and Services Company
Pricing depends on how many people engage with your ad. To learn how AdRoll handles monthly ad spends, check out their different plans.
12. Twitter Ads
Twitter Ads is a search engine marketing solution that features ads on their social media platform. It features objective-based campaigns, promoted trends and comprehensive analytics.
Users say that Twitter Ads is a good way to reach younger audiences and to engage with them in real time. Additionally, they say it is great for retargeting and event targeting and has useful reporting features.
“Twitter is well suited for brands seeking to effectively manage and tweak their advertising campaign, while also interacting in real-time with people who stumble on their ads, thus maximizing optimal result.”
~ Anthonia Aveh | Customer Service Analyst | The-Artery
To get a quote, create an account with Twitter.
Kenshoo Infinity Suite is a solution for search marketing, social media marketing, and other types of online advertising campaigns. This platform aims to help marketers target, engage, convert and retain customers.
Customers highlight its bid management system. They are also fond of Kenshoo’s ability to integrate with popular search engines, and provide all-in-one ad campaign management.
“We are using Kenshoo as a bid management tool for paid search & social campaigns with Pinterest, Amazon and search engines. Kenshoo provides a one stop shop for bid management and account optimization and control.”
~ Eamonn Kelly | SEM Senior Analyst | UM Worldwide
To try a demo to learn more about the product and its pricing, contact Kenshoo directly.
Adobe Media Optimizer is part of the Adobe Marketing Cloud and is used for ad management. It helps marketers deliver audience-relevant content across search, display, social and TV streams.
Reviewers say that this platform generates reports that are easy-to-read and are great for managing ad campaigns. Others like how it is integrated with other Adobe solutions.
“Adobe Media Optimizer is being used by my organization to ensure that our client’s media spend is tracked in the best way possible and that their money is going to the right place at the right time in front of the right people. It has helped us to increase our profits as well as our competitive landscape.”
~ Evan M. Stoskopf | Analyst Relations Program Manager | DSI
To receive a quote for this platform, get in touch with Adobe.
Not sure which platform to go with? Now that you have a sense of what options are out there, take time to read customer reviews of the products that caught your eye to determine which advertising solution will work best for you, based on your budget, your audience, your existing MarTech stack, and your campaign strategy.
To explore more Google Adwords alternatives, visit the AdWords alternatives and competitors page.