google ads alternatives

Google Ads (formerly adwords) has been the dominant online advertising platform for years, but some incredible alternatives do exist out there.

The reason for Google’s dominance is simple - They have a search engine market share of over 91%.

But Google Ads are not the only platform to drive more customers & scale your brand. 

With growing advertising costs & diminishing returns, many advertisers are looking for alternatives to invest their valuable ad budget whilst still achieving strong business results.

Why Look For Google Ads Alternatives?

multiple advertising platforms

Most serious advertisers like to diversify their ad budget across multiple platforms in order to maximize their performance. 

Here are some key reasons that advertisers are looking for alternatives:

  • Google ads CPCs are getting higher each and every year. 
  • Many Google advertisers find that their results eventually plateau or see diminishing returns.
  • Other PPC platforms give the opportunity to find new audiences & market segments. 
  • More users are spending more time on platforms like TikTok, LinkedIn and Instagram than ever before. 
  • Other platforms let you target customers at different stages of their buying journey, and help with remarketing as well. 
  • Every platform is plagued by click fraud, but due to high CPCs Google click fraud can be particularly damaging.

Finding Value in Advertising

Some of the other advertising platforms are insanely good value for money, and depending on your industry, the return on ad spend can be huge. 

We’re not suggesting you should abandon Google ads at all - It’s still the best overall advertising platform by some distance - But you should 100% branch out some of your budget to other alternative platforms as well.

We’ve put together the top list of alternative ad platforms that you should consider testing below, with a list of benefits and use cases for each.

1) Bing Ads (Microsoft Ads)

The first obvious one is Bing ads, which you can set up and launch through the Microsoft Ads platform.

This is an obvious alternative because Bing is the second biggest search engine in the World, and actually makes up for a surprisingly high % of desktop users in both the United States and United Kingdom - Approximately 25% of desktop users in both countries.

It’s pretty well known that Desktop users generally convert better as well - Because if you’re on Desktop, you’re sitting down concentrated on the task at hand. So for example if you’re making a large purchase, chances are you are more likely to be doing it on Desktop vs. mobile. 

Additionally, people that use Bing are typically older and wealthier

For some types of advertisers, Microsoft Ads actually a better alternative to Google Ads. 

We have personally run Microsoft Ads for nonprofits looking for donors and the average donation amounts were significantly higher than what Google ads achieved.

bing ads subtle

Another 'benefit' of Bing search ads is that you really can't tell they're ads at all.

Check out the image above - there's an extremely subtle hint that they're an advert, but it's almost impossible for the naked eye to pick up on! 

2) Meta Ads

meta ads

Meta is the parent company and platform for both Facebook & Instagram ads, which collectively reach the majority of the World’s population.

Certain companies seem to thrive in particular with Meta Ads include:

  • DTC (direct to consumer) brands like Ecommerce companies
  • Travel, especially group travel! 
  • Local services 

Additionally, their algorithm is ridiculously good at just finding your ideal customers. The main focus nowadays for Meta ads is in simply creating beautiful adverts - Then let Meta's algorithm do the complicated part of showing those ads to the perfect audience.

However, for certain industries like B2B, we


 do think there are stronger options out there than the Meta advertising platform.

In particular, Meta ads are great for generating demand to an audience who previously knew little about your product. 

That’s something that Google ads sometimes struggle to achieve - Because with Google ads, you’re typically targeting someone who already has some sort of interest in your product or service, because they’re literally searching specifically for it.

3) X Ads

x ads

There has been a lot of controversy over X since Elon Musk acquired Twitter and rebranded it.

However, X (Twitter) definitely offers a strong alternative to Google Ads that marketers should seriously consider.

Right now, advertising on X is relatively inexpensive and profitable, so it’s actually quite easy to generate a positive ROI from adverts.

The types of ads that perform best on X are the types of adverts that don’t actually feel like an advert at all.

So there is a great opportunity for savvy marketers to deliver incredible results from advertising on X, and on the backend they actually have an incredibly advanced advertising algorithm to find the right people to display your ad to as well.

Unlike Meta Ads, X (or Twitter) actually delivers a strong ROI for B2B companies as well - We’ve seen in particular that professional service companies can do extremely well on X.

4) LinkedIn Ads

sponsored content linkedin ads

LinkedIn Ads are growing more in popularity every single year.

We should caveat this by saying that LinkedIn ads are only good if you’re advertising for a specific type of company e.g:

If you’re an Ecommerce company, then LinkedIn is almost certainly not going to be the right advertising platform for you! 

But it’s incredibly powerful and unique because you can actually target people specifically depending on their company & job title, which really no other advertising platform allows for.

We should mention that LinkedIn ads are expensive, so you really need to have a strong product and margin to make them work.

With that said, there’s literally no better ad platform in the World right now to target professionals and corporations with big budgets, especially in the B2B space.

There’s also plenty of options to leverage different types of ads e.g:

  • Video ads
  • Sponsored content
  • Lead gen forms
  • Dynamic ads
  • In-platform messaging (see below)
in content messaging linkedin ads

5) TikTok Ads

tiktok ads platform

TikTok is projected to reach $18 billion in advertising revenue in 2024. It’s even surpassed Google as a search engine for Gen Z.

It’s no wonder that advertisers are pouring budgets into one of the fastest growing social media / search platforms of all time.

In particular, advertisers in the DTC and travel space have seen incredible growth and returns from TikTok Ads.

We should mention that high-quality video content creation is an absolute must for TikTok ads - It’s a different ballgame on TikTok, one with incredibly fast-paced videos that need to keep the user’s attention.

Additionally, the best performing TikTok ads don’t feel like ads at all - Gen Z’ers don’t want to be influenced by real ads after all! 

If you’re looking for a legitimate alternative to a company that could eventually dethrone Google ads, TikTok is a great bet. 

6) Reddit Ads

reddit ads example

Reddit ads are a phenomenal alternative to Google ads for the simple fact that people are spending a huge amount of time here.

People want real opinions and feedback from real people, and with the demise of traditional forums, most people are now doing that on Reddit.

You can also target specific subreddits as well, which is a great bonus for advertisers.

The backend of their advertising platform is getting more intelligent over time as well, and we really like Reddit for remarketing campaigns in particular.

One thing we should mention is that having ‘organic’ feeling ads is a must on Reddit - The community there hates obvious advertisements.

7) YouTube Ads

Youtube ads example

Technically YouTube ads fall under Google Ads (they’re owned by the same company after all) but we’ve separated this out because YouTube is an entirely separate website.

YouTube ads are completely different to anything else on this list because they’re primary video ads on a video platform.

People spend a huge amount of time on YouTube, far more than many other platforms.

So it makes sense that you should allocate at least some of your advertising budget here, where a huge amount of time is being spent by potential customers.

Because it’s a Google-powered platform as well, the targeting opportunities and variety is incredible. 

YouTube Ads have a ton of different formats as well:

  • Skippable in-stream ads.
  • Non-skippable in-stream ads.
  • In-feed video ads.
  • Bumper ads.
  • Outstream ads and accompanying content.

8) Pinterest Ads

pinterest ads shopping

If you’re an Ecommerce brand in particular, then Pinterest Ads is a seriously good alternative to Google Ads.

In particular, it’s a platform that’s well known to be a popular platform to many affluent females. 

If we’re getting even more specific, then high-end products in the home decor space can do incredibly well on Pinterest! 

Additionally, the Pinterest ads platform is surprisingly sophisticated - it’s truly built to firstly capture attention and then nurture potential customers all the way through the funnel to becoming paid customers.

So if you’re in the Ecommerce & DTC space, we would seriously consider giving Pinterest ads a shot!

In Summary

Paid advertising is all about reaching the right audience at the right time.

There’s no perfect alternatives to Google ads (after all, they do have the best options out there) but by considering your target audience and where they spend their time, you can start to expose your brand to potential customers and move them through the paid search funnel.

Each platform on this list provides a fantastic starting point, and certainly an opportunity to acquire new customers at a reasonable cost and help achieve your business goals.

Even if you want to keep Google ads as your preferred advertising platform, we strongly recommend diversifying your advertising strategy with multiple platforms to help reach as many people as possible.

Stewart Dunlop