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Alternative Ad Networks – StumbleUpon Ads, LinkedIn Direct Ads, and Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets


By far, the search engines offer the most popular ad networks. They get you the most targeted traffic that will buy. Many marketers are venturing into Facebook Ads and seeing how that works for them.

Online Advertising can take many forms

Facebook is the biggest social media site, but lots of other sites offer ad networks and most marketers don’t even bother considering them. The truth is that you can do really well with these other ad networks if you play your cards right.

StumbleUpon Ads

StumbleUpon is a site for discovering interesting stuff and sharing it with friends. It’s a social bookmarking site similar to Technorati and Digg. The way it works is that you create a profile and it uses algorithms to present sites to you that it thinks you’ll like. It has a program called Paid Discovery where you can pay to have your site appear for certain demographics or interests.

Stumblers (as StumbleUpon users are called) prefer certain content over others, so some niches perform better than others. Before you get started placing ads, you should look at what content is popular (it’s all rated by users). The landing page you send stumblers to has to be good because if it’s not or if it’s not relevant, they’ll give it a bad rating and it’ll actually hurt your site.

From my experience and that of a few other folks I know, StumbleUpon isn’t great for making sales. But it’s good for promoting a site, building a list, or gaining readers. The problem is that stumblers are casual web surfers and not really buyers. You get a low conversion rate and high bounce rate. It’s also good for making content go viral because users will share what they like.

LinkedIn Direct Ads

LinkedIn is the social network for professionals and it has its own ad network. Because LinkedIn is all about professional networking, its ad network is only good if you’re offering B2B products or services. The advantage of LinkedIn’s Direct Ads is that you can target by company name, job title, or other things that are business-related.

But LinkedIn Direct Ads is tricky. First of all, it’s quite expensive. It’s not nearly as cheap as other ad networks. It also has a fairly clunky interface that’s not exactly user-friendly. For example, you have to download a CSV to use it and the payment system isn’t easy to use.

Twitter’s Sponsored Tweets

Twitter now offers an ad program called Sponsored Tweets or Promoted Tweets. You pay to have your tweet appear at the top of a user’s feed when they use certain hashtags. You can choose to either pay a flat fee or pay per click.

Right now, Sponsored Tweets isn’t a great program but as they try to monetize the site more, it’ll probably be upgraded. Only major brands use it because it works best for things that have mass appeal. In other words, it’s not great for narrow, highly specialized niches.

All of these programs can get you leads or conversions, but it depends on lots of factors. My advice is to try them out, monitor carefully, and decide when you’re going to decide it was either a success or a failure. They’re worth checking out.

Toby Russell

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