On the heels of another Google Marketing Live event, we are reminded that our beloved PPC world is always “under construction.” As the industry giants aim to grow and retain market share, competition on the advertiser level remains just as fierce as ever. Advertising costs are perpetually rising, but KPI targets tend to remain static. Savvy account managers recognize the inevitable difficulty of the situation and understand that one of the best ways to resolve it is through channel diversification.
While Google, Bing, Facebook, and LinkedIn can frequently be trusted to deliver results at scale, smaller PPC platforms often go overlooked and underutilized when they could in fact be the key to balancing the ever-contending objectives of efficiency and scale.
Admittedly, it can be a hassle to go through the process of researching, pitching, and testing a new platform that may not prove its value in the end. However, becoming an early adopter of under-appreciated paid social platforms allows you to capitalize on lower costs and differentiate yourself from competitors who do not yet have a presence in that digital space.
This post will review three of the often-overlooked paid social platforms that are worth your consideration.
1. Grow Your Reach with Spotify
Although Spotify’s Ad Studio was introduced in late 2017, adoption of the self-serve audio advertising platform has been slow. There are a few major considerations that explain this circumstance:
- Spotify does not currently offer a pixel or other conversion tracking method, making it difficult to prove the value of audio ads the way we attempt to with other social platforms.
- Spotify ad targeting options are currently limited to demographics, geography, and musical preference. The absence of a pixel makes retargeting (the otherwise most appealing option) impossible.
- Spotify ad reporting is not nearly as robust as other familiar platforms. Impressions, reach, clicks, spend, and other related KPIs are reported for each ad campaign, but there is no date selection field and the age/gender/genre breakdowns are available only for delivery (not engagement).
That said, Spotify ought not be overlooked as you consider diversifying your paid social portfolio. It is an excellent tool for advertisers looking to generate broad awareness in a target location. Spotify accepts 30-second audio files to be uploaded directly, or offers free recording of a 75-word script by one of their in-house voice actors.
Hanapin’s Alaina Thompson shared the why and how of Spotify advertising last year. I will add a few additional observations from my recent experiences using the Ad Studio:
- The average cost/30-second listen is quite low (ranging from $.01 to $.02 in my national tests)
- Turnaround time for Spotify voice actor recordings is QUICK (less than 24 hours, and more often within just 3-4 hours)
- Despite the lack of conversion tracking and low click-through rates on ads, users who click Spotify ads are more likely to eventually convert (according to multi-channel funnels in Google Analytics)
2. Interest, Inform, and Involve with Quora
You may have heard me speak about Quora Ads previously, or read JD Prater’s recent post about how to reach your target audiences at key moments with the platform. I won’t spend time going through all the current features of Quora Ads since a quick visit to their blog provides a clearer and more succinct summary than I ever could.
If you aren’t familiar with Quora, it is at its core a question-and-answer forum that has begun to take on many characteristics of a traditional social network. Users can post and request answers to their questions, answer questions themselves, or browse Q&A threads from others on topics of interest to them. As the machine learning picks up on individual content preferences, the “news feed” begins to populate with question threads similar to those previously consumed.
Because of the varied targeting opportunities available to Quora advertisers, it is easy to engage prospects at all stages of the proverbial customer journey:
- Interest prospective customers by introducing your brand alongside relevant content. Lookalike Audience Targeting, Topic Targeting, and Interest Targeting are my favorite options to use at this stage.
- Inform new and returning prospects who have some brand awareness but are still in the consideration phase. I like to leverage Website Visitor Audiences and/or Question Retargeting with this objective.
- Involve past customers to increase retention and cross-brand engagement with promotional offers. List Match Audiences (or custom audiences based on your website conversion events) are recommended.
Although Quora Ads adoption has ramped up quicker than Spotify, it is still a relatively underutilized platform. As a result of lower competition, avg. CPCs are cheaper than industry-leaders like Google, Facebook, or LinkedIn.
Another appeal of Quora Ads is the fact that you can create an account, implement the pixel on your website, and build remarketing audiences before ever adding a payment method to the account. This means you can gauge how many of your current customers and site visitors are also active Quora users, which may be more than you expect. Quora also simplifies the task of forecasting spend and results, making it easier to determine expected value before diving in.
3. Capture Local Attention with Waze
Waze, a social navigation app owned by Google, is another low-risk and low-cost opportunity available to advertisers looking for a first-mover advantage. It is particularly valuable for small businesses, brick-and-mortar locations wanting to drive in-store traffic, or service providers wanting to connect with local consumers.
The app differs from Google Maps in a few subtle but significant ways. Waze proclaims that it is devoted to “Outsmarting Traffic. Together.” To this end, users are encouraged to report accidents, police presence, construction, and other hazards or areas of road congestion. In addition to serving as navigation to and from unfamiliar destinations, then, Waze creates value for everyday commuters as well. By encouraging them to contribute to the “community,” it also builds trust and loyalty with users.
On the advertising side, Waze offers three ad formats:
- Branded Pins are icons that appear on the map at your location’s address. Users see these as they are driving in areas near your store or office and are reminded of its presence.
- Promoted Search allows you to show at the top of search results for queries related to your business. Promoted results also include your brand logo for added recognition.
- Zero-Speed Takeover, only available to enterprise-level spenders of $3,000+ monthly, is a banner ad that will appear at the top of the navigation screen while drivers are stopped at stoplights or other stand-still moments while driving.
Because the minimum daily spend for self-serve Waze advertisers is only $2, it is a very low-risk platform to test. Even better, getting started with the platform is a simple and straightforward process that can be completed in a single day.
And The List Goes On
Spotify, Quora Ads, and Waze are just three of the platforms that I see as “rising stars” on the paid social landscape. There are many more out there, as early results from Hanapin’s State of Paid Social survey demonstrate. If you’ve tested these platforms or others, please come share your thoughts with me on Twitter to continue the conversation!