What’s the Deal with Quora Ads? How-To + Case Study
The way we ask and answer questions in 2017 is fundamentally different than at any other point in human history.
Today, we’ll run through what Quora is, how to advertise on the platform, and what we experienced when we ran Quora ads for WordStream.
What is Quora?
Quora is a publicly mediated Q and A forum that relies on a system of upvotes and community contributions to serve insightful answers to inquisitive searchers. Like a kind of Jeopardy meets Reddit meets Wikipedia Cerberus, if you will. Or a more authoritative version of Yahoo Answers.
Most people (at least in my polling of folks around the WordStream office) don’t explicitly navigate to Quora. Instead—as is often the case with Wikipedia—links to the site tend to pop up in the organic search results (making it an important albeit underutilized part of any site’s SEO strategy).
This is particularly true when a search is framed as a question, which, thanks to the proliferation of voice search, is becoming more common. Per Quora, the site currently has over 200 million unique monthly visitors and recently expanded to support Spanish and French.
While this is all well and good (everyone can stand to benefit from a resource this rich), it doesn’t necessarily mean you should move a portion of your advertising budget over to what is, for all intents and purposes, a very fancy message board, right?
Hold that thought.
Why advertise on Quora?
Quora is unique in that it offers advertisers the ability to build credibility in the eyes of a prospect during the hella important research phase.
While an informational keyword in Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) might give you the power to serve a relevant ad to a searcher, there’s only value to be had if you can incite a click with your copy. Quora, on the other hand, gives you the ability to couch your ad copy between insightful nuggets of information that relate—directly or tangentially—to your product or service. While on a SERP your ad is positioned atop links to relevant websites, Quora ads are dispersed betwixt actual information, like so:
If a prospect is searching for information about your company, product, competitors, or industry, Quora presents you with a unique opportunity to slide between insightful responses (bonus brand equity points if your team contributed ‘em) with a contextually relevant ad closely resembling what you’d see over on AdWords.
In the example above, which depicts the results for “What is the best Facebook campaign strategy I can use for an online clothing store,” there’s an ad for General Assembly’s part-time digital marketing course. The nontraditional educator is attempting to use Quora ads to teach a man to fish, so to speak. I dig it.
Quora says Quora offers advertisers…
- A large, engaged audience
- Quality content
- High user intent
The GA example I just touched on supports the first few claims. Someone looking to bolster the performance of their Facebook ads is clearly engaged. The ad itself is sandwiched between insightful responses the likely served to educate the searcher. User intent is clear.
While I whole-heartedly agree with the first three points, I’m ready and willing to quibble with the “measurability” bit. This isn’t for lack of effort but, rather, newness. Facebook, a comparatively old ad platform, is only just affording advertisers functional, actionable measurability (provided they implement the Facebook Pixel). If Quora continues to innovate on this front (and offer more robust targeting, because we could always use more robust targeting) its ad platform will quickly become a staple for online marketers.
With that, let’s jump into setting up your very first Quora ad.
How do Quora Ads Work?
If you’ve dipped your toes into the PPC waters at some point, the process of creating, managing, and optimizing a Quora ads account will feel familiar to you.
So, without further ado…
Creating a Quora Account
Visit the “Advertising on Quora” page and click the big, blue start now button:
From there, you’ll be instructed to create an account name and enter your business and contact information. Standard procedure. Once everything looks kosher, click “create account.”
Installing the Quora pixel
Without the ability to measure success—or lack thereof—online advertising is frivolous. You may as well buy ad space on the placemats at a truck stop on 95.
As such, it’s imperative that you install the Quora Pixel on your website. This will allow you to do two things: track conversion events and build remarketing audiences.
While I’m not going to go into too much detail about the latter (structurally, remarketing audiences in Quora are built based on whether a given URL has been visited by a prospect), conversion tracking is key.
To place the Quora pixel on your website, press “Quora Pixel” in the nav bar.
Creating a Quora Ads Campaign
As is the case with Facebook ad account structure, the campaign level is a shell that holds ad groups. It’s the place where objectives, budgeting, and ad scheduling are controlled. Ad sets, on the other hand, are where the magic happens.
When you click “+Create Campaign,” you’ll be brought to a screen that looks like this:
Unfortunately(!) Quora is yet to implement my helpful commentary. Be sure you select “Conversions” as your objective. If you’d rather establish a lifetime budget and an ad schedule (a la Facebook) than set a daily max in perpetuity, do so, click continue, and we’re on to the ad set level.
Ad Set: Targeting & Bidding
As I mentioned earlier, the ad set level is the most important unit of your Quora ads campaign. It’s where you control who sees your ads. Without investing some serious time into honing your targeting (keywords, locations, and negatives), you’re going to undermine the platform’s inherent, intent-centric value.
The first stage in ad set creation is (shocker) coming up with a name. Ensure that you use common nomenclature throughout so that you know what’s going on in a given ad set without having to rifle through its innards (by this I simply mean that naming an ad set “ALLEN ROXXX” is silly when you could call it “US-Content DL-Startups” or something).
Once you’ve named your ad set, scroll down to the “Primary Targeting” section. Quora offers two levels of targeting, primary and secondary. The former allows you to select between two options:
- Topic Targeting - In which topics function like keywords, allowing you to select the sorts of questions among whose answers your ads are served.
- Audience Targeting - In which the Quora pixel allows you to select segments of site visitors and target prospects when they inevitably return to Quora.
Since this is your first rodeo, you’re going to want to stick with Topic Targeting. Ensure that the box as highlighted (as it is above) and move on down to the actual topic selection interface.
Quora actually recommends you enter keywords from a Google Ads campaign in order to receive suggestions for comparable Quora topics (love synergy).
Just dump your keywords into this box and press continue; this will generate a list of prospective Quora topics that you can advertise on.
Confused? How ‘bout an example?
Let’s say I enter “Facebook business page” into the box and hit continue. Quora generates the following list of suggested topics:
From here, I can sort through the list, selecting or unselecting. If we (WordStream) wanted to convey specific, independent messages regarding Facebook and Google Ads, I’d eliminate “Google Ads” from this list of topics, uncheck any other riffraff, and import the refined list of topics into my ad set. Now we can move onto secondary targeting.
The secondary targeting section of the ad set creation interface allows you, the advertiser, to adjust the scope of your efforts. Here, you can control for location (the geographic regions in which users can see your ads) and platforms (desktop or mobile). But that most interesting component of Quora’s second tier of targeting is its exclusion function.
Exclusions in Quora function like negative keywords on the Google Search Network. If you want people in the United States to see your ads but would prefer to hide them from our neighbors to the north, this is where you’d denote that.
Once you’ve defined your audience, simply set a maximum bid for the ad set and move on to ad creation.
Anatomy of a Quora Ad
Quora ads look a lot like text ads in Google Ads.
The biggest difference, outside of character count and capitalization (Quora ads should be written like sentences Instead Of In Title Case Like People Tend To Use When Writing Search Ads), is that Quora ads have a pretty cool dynamic CTA button. It pulls your display URL, appending it to one of a dozen or so phrases—“shop now,” free trial,” etc.—to create a compelling call to action that stands out.
The constituent components of a Quora ad are as follows:
- Business Name – 30 characters
- Headline Sentence – 65 characters
- Body Text – 105 characters
- Display URL – 30 Characters
In context, those components look like this (albeit with less compelling copy):
As is the case with any advertisement, you should try to write an attention-grabbing headline, and support whatever assertion you make by addressing the benefits of your product or service in the body section.
From there, you just need to select the most pertinent CTA button, ensure your landing page is in working order (and you’ve got the pixel in place), and you’re ready to launch.
Quora Ads uses a CPC-based model powered by a real-time auction (just like, you know, most of the other online advertising platforms). This means that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.
But, outside of conversions, how do you know if your ads are resonating with your audience?
Why, with Quora’s built-in reporting features, of course!
Though rudimentary—currently, you can only view impressions, clicks, CTR, CPC, conversion rate, and spend—Quora can give you a pretty good idea as to the relative success of your efforts at both the campaign and ad set levels.
So, Do Quora Ads Work? [Case Study]
In August, we decided to try Quora ads out for 30 days.
During that time, we drove 1,135 clicks on 230,604 impressions (these are, like, Display-comparable figures at best). Of those clicks, 23 downloaded a piece of content and another 20 ran the AdWords Performance Grader.
This indicates that our top and mid-funnel campaigns seemed to perform similarly (though through the implementation of Audience Targeting, we could probably offer something more valuable to attain better results moving forward, thanks to an even greater understanding of user intent).
From a CPA perspective, qualified leads on Quora were about 17% more expensive than Google Ads, but 31% cheaper than we saw on Taboola and 19% cheaper than we saw on Capterra. We’ve discontinued our experiments on both other platforms because the ROI simply wasn’t there; Quora, on the other hand, is still alive and kicking.
I reached out to Aaron Doherty, WordStream’s Director of Lead Acquisition, who shared the following insights: “I like Quora a lot. It’s a new source of intent. While Google Ads is still the best source of high-intent leads, Quora is in the same ballpark. The fact that the content is user-generated, with answers occurring in real time makes it an exciting place for marketers. While we haven’t quite tapped into Quora’s full potential, I’m excited to continue advertising on the network in 2018 and beyond.”
When I followed up to see if he had any negative experiences with Quora, Aaron had a single response: “The UI sucks. It’s worse than Twitter circa 2014.”
While our results to date haven't been perfect, they have been promising.
Quora offers a ton of potential as a complementary ad network. If you’ve got discretionary ad budget to tool around with, give it a go. If you’re still in the process of building out your Google Ads, Facebook, and Bing accounts, wait a few quarters.
Who knows: by that time, Quora ads might have a killer new UI and enough targeting options to take your online advertising to the next level.