Facebook ads horror stories 😱– the reason you need alternatives

facebook ads alternatives

Facebook ads are great. Until you see the price tag at the end of the month. That’s when you start to think – hmmm, could some sort of Facebook ads alternative be worth my time?

Well, a little research is the first step to determining that. With 15 alternatives listed below, we’re sure you’ll find something that could fit your profile, budget, and online advertising strategy. 

Why do we need alternatives?

Before we start looking for alternatives, we need to know what our priorities are. 

What does Facebook ads provide that we also want in another ad network?

What do Facebook ads lack that an alternative could deliver?

Let’s make a pros & cons list – that never led us wrong. 😉

Pros: What does facebook offer?

Facebook has a pretty big pro… the fact that it’s Facebook. 

It’s almost rare to know someone without a Facebook account. Even the older generations from mom and dad to grandma and grandpa. And that can make advertising there a gold mine.

Huge audience

First off, like I mentioned, everyone and their mom has a Facebook account. That they check if not once a day, for hours a day (guilty of this too 😔 ).

The point is, you have nearly 2.9 billion users globally who are relatively engaged and watching their screens, scrolling through their feeds. That’s a pretty huge audience available to stare at your ad. 

Targeting

Secondly, your targeting options are pretty vast… or at least they were. You can/could target ads based on language, age, interests, demographics, locations and even connections. That’s a pretty wide (or precise) net you can cast.

The big caveat though, the enormous howeverrr, is that Facebook is tending towards cutting back targeting. Allegedly to protect user privacy. So, keep in mind that this “benefit” is teetering on the edge… 

With less and less targeting options, you have less control over the advertising process. Sooner or later it may be worth it either way to try out other Facebook ads alternatives.

Cons: How is it a pain?

Facebook is a truly exceptional resource for advertisers – and it knows that. So they take advantage of that. In a couple of prettyyyy obvious ways.

Expensive

Firstly, they’re super expensive. Advertising on Facebook can cost a fortune. And no matter how great and effective and targeted Facebook ads can be, you still need to test for a certain period of time. And that testing can get expensive, especially considering the price tag on Facebook Ads and native ads in general.

So even after all your testing, and discover the perfect combination of campaign elements for the time being. Facebook advertising can be extremely pricey compared to other alternatives.

Not only can they be expensive, they are not that predictable either: CPMs on FB ads can range from $2.00 to $30.97. That’s a pretty hefty difference.

Rejected Campaigns

What’s worse? Doing all that testing, discovering a great campaign…. And then it gets rejected, for no reason.

There’s nothing worse than getting rejected – and having no explanation. No idea whether you need to upend your whole approach or just tweak one aspect.

Of course, the tricky thing with Facebook is they’re always rejecting campaigns left and right for all types of reasons. So fine-tuning a successful campaign and keeping it running is easier said than done. 

Banned Accounts

After having a few rejected campaigns, you run the risk of a banned account. And that’s a lot worse. A banned account means you can’t access any of your data, any of your campaigns, or any of your profits since the last billing cycle.

So all that work and money that went into tracking, testing and gathering data is lost. 

Banned accounts also mean you need to register a new account which is an entirely new set of problems.

Time-consuming

Another thing: Facebook ads tend to be extremely time-consuming. In an industry like online advertising, who has time to waste? Time is gold!

Facebook provides advertisers with minimal AI tools, and your FB campaigns can’t run themselves at a feasible price, let alone optimize themselves.

With Voluum Tracker however, this is one of our specialities: automatic campaign optimization (based on the Auto-Rules and conditions you set up). After all, since time is gold, campaign automation (and automated optimization) is the future.

Crap Support

As you can tell, Facebook isn’t necessarily looking for advertisers to succeed. It is expensive, doesn’t offer any explanations to campaign rejections, and bans accounts all too often. Worst of all, it can get quite tricky to improve your Facebook advertising strategy. Luckily, you can use this fabulous Facebook guide here!

First and foremost, it has little to no helpful or existent support. You can’t get much of a response nor constructive advice from your account manager or average customer service representative.

Starting to look beyond Facebook…

So sure, Facebook might be a media giant with no need to bow to advertisers just yet – however you don’t necessarily need to jump through their hoops either. 

There are plenty of alternatives… not to mention the fact that you and your online business ventures may not be ready for Facebook advertising anyways. 

It’s not an easy platform to maneuver and succeed with so you definitely don’t need to start out there – go ahead and try different sources to build up your marketing strategy before banking on Facebook. Turns out, you might not even need Facebook. Let’s see!


Let’s talk about native traffic

Before we get into all our various alternatives, let’s talk for a second about what we’re looking for. 

With Facebook ads we get a platform with tons of users who are continuously scrolling through their feed on mobile or desktop for hours a day. Ads that appear here nearly seamlessly blend into that scrolling experience – ie, they are native ads. 

Though ad formats can be categorized in plenty of different ways, the essence and success behind Facebook ads are that they’re native. They don’t intrude on a user’s online experience but rather smoothly incorporate themselves – as if the ads were just another article, photo or post you’ve encountered on the given platform you’re viewing at the moment (in this case, Facebook).

It’s indisputable: in today’s online environment, native ads work best. And they’re only growing – the industry is predicted to be worth $400bn by 2025. With pop, push and other variations in between, online advertising has advanced to the current most successful form: native.

facebook ads

Of course, native ads come with a price. They are often more expensive than their more intrusive, obvious, cheesy, lower-quality pop, push etc. counterparts. 

That high price tag for Facebook Ads is clear. However, among our alternatives listed below, a lot are cheaper and just as effective sources of native ads traffic.


15 Facebook ad alternatives

So, we’ve got 15 perfectly suitable Facebook alternatives listed here.

Some are social media platforms that work similarly to Facebook, while others are rich networks with lots of native traffic.

No matter which way you look at your business, diversification is always a smart move. If you’ve got all your eggs in one basket with Facebook ads, then you’ve already positioned yourself in a risky situation. 

Secure up your online advertising (or just cut costs 😉 ) with some variety!

1. Twitter Ads

The Twitter audience has certainly changed throughout the past years, seemingly shrinking to some extent. However, the presence of politicians and businesses on Twitter has remained stable if not grown. That brings a lot of young adults to Twitter, ie, people with some money to spend. 

Here you can run ads in three formats: Promoted Ads, Promoted-only Tweets, Follower Ads. 

  • A Promoted Ad is a promoted Tweet that is labeled as such
  • The Promoted-only Tweets are only seen by those you target
  • Follower Ads suggest a Twitter account for users to follow that they don’t yet follow

Twitter has a comprehensive user interface with decent targeting options. Campaigns are pretty easy to set up and you can target niche audiences. It doesn’t have very in-depth analytics however to build on and improve campaigns. That’s where an ad tracker like Voluum would come in handy.

2. TikTok Ads

TikTok is another social media platform with lots of users staring at their phone. And you’d be surprised to know that they’re not all just very young users – there are niches for adults as well.

To make a good ad on TikTok, you’ll need a bit more effort than convincing copy and an ok creative – given that video is essentially their only form of content . Also, these ads can get rather expensive (think tens of thousands of dollars monthly) so be prepared before diving in. 

You’ll have to make a decent and engaging video. But you have a couple options:

  • In feed video: a very expensive ad format but you can have your video ad appear in a user’s feed and it will redirect to your website or app
  • Hashtag challenge: sponsor a hashtag challenge with Tiktok’s marketing team. You have to be a pretty huge player to manage this however, with a decent reputation that Tiktok won’t mind partnering with.
  • Branded AR content: You know those stickers, frames and filters people love to apply to their content? Design something like that that relates to your brand so users can interact with your product.
  • Brand takeover: When a user first opens a Tiktok, this advertisement will appear on their screen and can lead to either an external link or your channel. This is a relatively limited ad format in Tiktok currently but cheaper than the others.
  • Influencer marketing: This isn’t a type of Tiktok ad per say, but you can partner with an influencer on TikTok to promote your goods or services. The price here can end up being a lot cheaper than regular TikTok advertising though if you find the right partner.

3. Instagram ads

Even though they’re both from Meta, Instagram is still a viable Facebook alternative. It has a slightly different user profile (younger than Facebook’s overall) and different ad formats available.

Instagram has a variety of image-based advertising options:

  • In-feed Sponsored posts can be a single image, a carousel (multiple images to scroll left or right through) or a video.
  • You can also promote content in the Instagram Explore section
  • In-story ads can also be either a still photo or a video

On Instagram, you really have to pay attention to the quality of your images and videos. Make sure they’re the right size and quality before you run your campaigns, otherwise they won’t be worth much at all.

4. Google Ads

Google Ads, (formerly known as Google Adwords) is known for its precise targeting. Or rather, that while a user is searching for a specific product or service, you can insert your relevant one right at the top of the search results.

That is their most famous type of ad, the Search Text ad, but they have plenty of other formats available as well.

  • Responsive ads appear in ad spaces open for Google ads bidding on websites in their Display ads network. These adjust size, appearance and format to fit the given space.
  • Image ads can be a still image or a gif format that direct users to your site.
  • App promotion ads: you can promote apps on the GooglePlay store or online in an ad that will take users to where they can download that app.
  • Video ads can also appear as standalone videos that are running orrr they are inserted during a longer video.
  • Product shopping ads appear in the Google Shopping feed. They will show up as promoted content and include the product, name, store, price and other details.
  • Call-only ads are usually available in Google Maps for instance to motivate users to click on that phone number and give the business a call.

5. Improve Digital

Stay with me, I know, Improve Digital is certainly not some huge social media platform like those mentioned above. However, it has some of the same benefits. At a much lower price!

Improve Digital lets you advertise Customized Native ads to targeted audiences.

6. LinkedIn Ads

LinkedIn is full of business professionals and plenty of targeting options. However, they come with a high price tag – to say the least. It’s more expensive than most other options listed here.

But hey do have plenty of advertising options available: 

  • Sponsored content are different formats that appear in the Linkedin feed
    • Text ads: as usual, text-only ads require the least amount of effort and thus are the fastest to set up. You can also include a small image with this ad. These ads appear at the top of a page, alongside the newsfeed in the desktop version of the site.
    • Carousel ads: a series of swipeable images. But you can also pay for a simple one-image ad as well.
    • Video ads: your video ad may also appear in the Linkedin feed.
  • Sponsored messaging has two formats, listed below. They encourage interaction with your prospects through the chat function.
    • Message ads: send a short direct message to a user
    • Conversation ads: make a choose-your-own-path message experience for the contact

7. Quora Ads

Quora is the underrated search platform. This is where people go when Google can’t answer their questions. So you have some contextual targeting available here too based on keywords.

It has 3 main formats available:

  • Text ads: show a short description or call to action with a text ad that is displayed at the top of their screen.
  • Image ads: these appear in feed and feature an image along with text. Shocker. 😉 
  • Promoted answers: this is much longer form content and relatively unique to Quora. You can formulate a question (one that ideally a lot of users would have and catch their attention) and then provide an engaging, informative answer.

8. Taboola

Taboola is a native ad network where you can also advertise on multiple platforms, not like some of these social media channels. But they still provide native ads so you get those benefits as well.

They offer native traffic in two forms:

  • Content Recommendations
  • In feed

Your ads will be appearing on some of the most trusted media platforms out there: USA Today, The Weather Channel, NBC, Business Insider, MSN, Bloomberg, CBS News, Fox. 

If that doesn’t impress you, I don’t know what will!

9. Amazon

Amazon is one of the biggest online platforms out there – alongside Facebook. However, an ad on Amazon functions a little differently as it’s being served to people who are already essentially ready to shop. It also has to compete with the myriad of other products available.

Ad formats it has to offer:

  • Sponsored Products: feature your product in Amazon shopping search results. 
  • Sponsored Brands: basically the same thing as sponsored products, just it’s your brand that gets featured in Amazon shopping results.
  • Sponsored Display: these display ads are also available globally. Advertise all over Amazon, its subpages, and its affiliated websites like Twitch.
  • Video Ads: Amazon also has its own video platform, Prime Video, with TV streaming where your ad can be displayed.
  • Audio Ads: with Amazon Music, you can insert your audio-only ads between songs to catch potential customers’ attention.
  • Amazon DSP: This is a fairly new product on their end and hasn’t gotten great reviews due to their confusing UI and general difficulty in setting up campaigns & managing reports and creatives.

One major thing to consider with Amazon is you’ll always be competing with its products as well, which usually have the upper hand either way. But as long as you’re offering something unique through an eye-catching advertising method, you can succeed. 

10. RevContent 

Revcontent is another advertising platform that has a lot of targeting options and ad formats. If targeting is what you’re at Facebook for, Revcontent could be the perfect alternative for you.

You also get real-time reporting and ROAS with the platform as well as bot / fraud protection.

Its ad formats include:

  • Content Recommendations: “recommended for you” or “you also might like” often appear at the end of an article or some other online content. These sections often hide ads branded as “content recommendations”, blending into the overall experience. 
  • In feed: You can scroll past these ads in a given feed be it social or news. They are labeled as advertisements but also blend in with the surrounding content.

11. Reddit Ads

Reddit is another social media-esque platform with lots of engaged users worldwide. One thing to note, Reddit’s audience mainly consists of men. 

It features a slew of ad formats.

Reddit Takeover shows your brand to users for a total of 24 hours on basically every page of Reddit. To set up a Reddit Takeover ad, you’ll have to reach out to their marketing team to manage your advertising. 

During this 24 hours, your ad can be in all these placements:

  • Promoted Post (first in-feed ad placement)
  • Top banner (Above the Fold Banner)
  • Sticky banner (Sticky Below the Fold Banner)
  • Trending unit on Popular
  • Trending unit on Search
  • Trending landing page

The Reddit Auction ads are self-serve and can be set up, run, and managed all on your own. Of course, the help of a tracker like Voluum never hurts 😉 These ads can either appear in the Feed or in a Conversation – in other words, a thread. 

12. Pinterest

Pinterest I suppose you could say is the Reddit counterpart for women. With an overwhelmingly female, adult audience who are in a decent economic situation, you have a lot of buyers ready to purchase your products.

If you weren’t aware, Pinterest is extremely visual and image-based. In fact, you don’t even have that much video content. My point is, that aesthetically pleasing, a beautiful ad is more important here than anywhere else.

Its ad formats all revolve around imagery:

  • Standard: picture your products in the typical Pinterest square or rectangular format.
  • Video: create a video in the same size, or possibly more of a gif-type ad.
  • Shopping: emphasize your message and call to action with a shopping ad.
  • Carousel: as with other carousels, feature multiple images of your product.
  • Collections: Go for the true traditional Pinterest approach. Create a collection of only your products, or hide yours in with the rest, just make sure it stands out.

13. YouTube Ads

Not surprisingly, you’ll need to have video content to advertise on YouTube. They say all you need is a phone, and they might be right. However, your content will have to be pleasant and appealing as it will probably be slapped between two songs your user loves.

Either way, YouTube is all about video ads. You just have to set up a channel, and of course have an advertising budget.

14. Snapchat

Snapchat is another social media giant, but of course not as big as Facebook. Keep in mind that Snapchat has a very young audience overall, similar to TikTok. It’s also only available on mobile which can make your job easier in designing and managing ads.

They’ve got plenty of ad formats available:

  • Single image / video ads: these take up the whole screen and can link to any website.
  • Collection ads: feature multiple products with 4 clickable tiles displayed to viewers.
  • Story ads: by compiling multiple single image / video ads, you can create a story around your product. Pile together anywhere from 3 to 20 of these ads to create a story ad.
  • Lenses AR experience: everyone loves staring at themselves and playing around with lenses. Create a branded augmented reality experience that promotes your product or service for users to enjoy and appreciate.
  • Commercials: Among Snapchat’s curated content, you can feature a more “classic” advertising format: the commercial. How retro? 😉 These are non-skippable, from 6 seconds or up to 3 minutes long!
  • Filters: Filters are another way to create branded content that users can interact with and play around with.

15. Outbrain

Outbrain is another native ad network giant. Where will your ad content be appearing?

On a variety of noteworthy news platforms: BBC, Conde Nast, Le Monde, El Pais, CNN, The Washington Post, MSN, The Guardian, Der Spiegel.

You’ll obviously have access to advertising in multiple languages too, if that’s valuable for your campaigns. Outbrain has branded its native ads “smartads” but they’re native ads all the same:

  • Standard Smartads: Itsclassic native ad format
  • Carousel Smartads: include multiple images that users can scroll through 
  • App Install Smartads: drive app installs with this ad format
  • Clip Smartads: feature a short video clip as your ad
  • Click-to-Watch Smartads: viewers will have to click “Play” in order to watch this ad. Of course, a thumbnail and some copy are visible, so make sure that they will convinces users to watch. This format gets much higher engagement rates as it necessitates an action from viewers.
  • Outstream Smartads: this is a video ad that automatically plays on mute on the device’s screen. 

You’ve got alternatives – what to do with them?

We’ve come to our conclusion section here.

Is that supposed to mean we know what to do? Well, look: diversification is always a benefit. 

I know far too many advertisers myself who only stick to the huge names like Facebook, Google, and Amazon because well… they’ve never bothered to check whether there are better options out there. And I’m here to tell you there are!

Cheaper options, more effective options, options with more targeting and more. However, no matter what you go with – make sure you’re tracking so you can really tell what’s working and what isn’t.

Track with Voluum today!

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