For companies that want to advertise their brands and products online, Google Adwords is possibly the most popular tool, offering pay-per-click and site-targeted options across many types of ads.
But if Adwords is out of your budget (Adwords pricing depends on the keyword categories you use in your ads) or you're simply not a huge fan of Google, the good news is there are several other online advertising platforms to choose from that are equally effective in enhancing your brand awareness and boosting traffic to your website.
Here's a look at four alternatives to using Google Adwords:
Related: Common Google AdWords Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
1. Reddit ads: A popular online social news and entertainment aggregation community, Reddit says it generated 37 billion pageviews in 2012. With Reddit's self-serve style ads, you can control your budget, reach millions of people and target them based on their specific interests. Plus, you can use text, images and video in your Reddit ad.
Untargeted ads run on Reddit's main homepage while topic-specific communities, called Reddits, and subcommunities, known as "subreddits," are also available to advertise within. Minimum bids for Reddit ad campaigns are cost-per-click (CPC, meaning you pay only when someone clicks on your ad) and start at $20 per day in advance for untargeted ads, and $30 per day for targeted ads, with a maximum bid of $9,999.99. Both ad options include a campaign start date, stop date and the total bid for the dates chosen.
2. Facebook ads: An estimated one billion people reportedly visit Facebook every month. Facebook's ads can be an effective way for businesses to quickly reach large, highly targeted audiences, meaning you get to choose who will view your ad by location, age, relationship status, education, interests and more. This can make it easier to reach individuals who are likely to be interested in your product, service, or website.
Here's how it works. Facebook ads are essentially blind auction bids. You bid to have your ad displayed to certain demographics, choose how much you'll spend, and whether your ad campaign will be CPC or CPM (cost per one thousand ad impressions).
Facebook's minimum cost per click is one cent, but a bid that low wouldn't be nearly enough to have your ad displayed. The larger your daily or lifetime Facebook ad budget, the more people your campaign will reach.
Related: Building a Successful Google Campaign from Scratch
3. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery: StumbleUpon is a free web-based discovery engine that finds and recommends internet content to its users. With an estimated one million monthly visitors, StumbleUpon offers a Paid Discovery advertising program that delivers targeted traffic to your website or other online content -- without the use of banner ads. The URL that leads to whichever article, video or other online content you're promoting is the ad itself.
With Paid Discovery, you only pay for unique visitors sent directly from StumbleUpon to your URL on a set budget that you dictate. Unlike Google Adwords, Facebook and Reddit, minimum purchases and minimum bids are not required. StumbleUpon Paid Discovery customers pay as low as five to 25 cents for every person who "stumbles upon" their website URL.
Which of these Google Adwords alternatives would you consider trying? Let us know in the comments below.