When question-and-answer network Quora announced earlier this year that its ad platform was coming out of beta, some 300 advertisers were already on the platform.
We spoke with several of Quora’s current advertisers about what drew them to the ad platform, their experiences with getting started and what kind of results they are seeing so far.
What stood out is how consistent the feedback was from both B2B and B2C advertisers across a variety of industries. Here’s what they shared.
Quora’s initial attraction
Over and over, advertisers told us Quora was an easy bet to make. “We’re always looking for new avenues to reach people and lower CPC sources” than Facebook and Google, said Sid Bharath, VP of growth for custom online course platform Thinkific, by phone.
Thinkific, like most others we spoke with, already sees good traffic volume and performance from organic traffic on Quora. “We were excited to join the beta because Quora organic is our highest quality traffic source,” said Patrick Holmes, paid marketing manager for landing page testing solution Instapage. The company started running ads on Quora in late January.
“We also liked the curious and inquisitive nature of users on Quora and thought they might align well” with the product, said Shane Smith, senior director of digital marketing at Home Chef, a weekly meal delivery service, via email.
That sentiment was echoed by Kristina Simonsen, senior marketing manager at sustainable jewelry company Brilliant Earth, who says their own customers “are doing lots of research and asking important questions about where their products come from.”
Brilliant Earth has been advertising on Quora since May, and Home Chef has been on the platform for about a month.
The text-based ads on Quora include a headline, a description and a call-to-action button that links to the advertiser’s website or app.
Everyone we heard from said navigating the interface and getting campaigns up and going is simple. “The interface is easy and similar to setting up Facebook text ads,” said Bharath.
Quora has also had a conversion tracking pixel and partnerships with several app analytics firms from day one.
“We find that we’re able to capture the important metrics we need and match that back to our internal reporting,” said Simonsen in an email.
Targeting is in its infancy
Out of the gate, Quora’s targeting is about what you would expect from a young ad platform: functional, but lacking the granularity and sophistication of more mature platforms. Campaigns are targeted primarily by topic, though location and device targeting can be added as well.
“Targeting is working decently for what it is. We understand it’s limited because it’s a new platform,” said Holmes.
“Targeting isn’t very granular at the moment. Most of the topics we can bid on are pretty broad,” said Home Chef’s Smith.
Bharath, too, would like more granularity in the targeting. Thinkific got started by targeting topics that have worked organically on Quora and then optimizing from there. He is now looking at adding more topics to try to add scale.
Quora does have more sophisticated targeting in the pipeline (many Quora ads team members are Facebook alums, after all), so we can expect to see more developments coming in this area.
Seeing positive performance
“Generally speaking, performance has been solid on the platform with the channel hitting [Home Chef’s] engagement and CPA goals,” said Smith.
Leadfeeder, a sales intelligence SaaS (software as a service) product, started running ads on Quora in November 2016. It, too, saw ads as a natural complement to the organic traffic it already gets from the platform. To date, Quora is the company’s second-highest pay-per-click channel in terms of lead contribution. Nearly 2 percent of paid Quora visitors sign up for a trial.
Thinkific is spending between $2,000 and $4,000 a month on Quora ads. In general, Thinkific’s CPCs on Quora are generally lower than on Google and comparable to retargeting CPCs on Facebook. Volume from Quora is lower than from Bing Ads, but the cost per conversion is about the same, says Bharath.
Instapage is spending a small fraction of its marketing budget on Quora ads — about $1,000 to $2,000 per month. “We would love to have more volume,” said Holmes. The ads don’t perform as well as Quora organic traffic, “which makes sense,” says Holmes, “but it is better quality than other social channels.”
Instapage has been running direct product offer kinds of ads (“try our product”), but Holmes says they are going to start testing softer content offers to see how those leads measure up.
Simonsen says it’s still early to tell how Quora is performing relative to other channels for Brilliant Earth but that initial results look promising.
A wish list
The main wish we heard from advertisers is to be able to scale on the platform. “We would like to push more into it, but there isn’t the volume, yet,” said Bharath.
“It would be helpful for Quora to reinvest some of its ad revenue in bringing more users to the platform,” said Smith. Quora knows this needs to be a priority as well. At the end of April, Quora announced it had nearly doubled its monthly user base from 100 million to 195 million over the past year. That puts it ahead of Pinterest, which claimed 150 million monthly users in October 2016, and behind Twitter with its 326 million monthly users.
The second wish we heard across the board was for more sophisticated targeting options.
Bharath would like to see keyword targeting that would allow for more granular targeting when a broad topic may not correlate well to the business, but certain questions within that topic match up well.
In addition to targeting enhancements, Smith noted that he’d like to see Quora develop larger and more dynamic ad formats.
Holmes said he would like to be able to segment reporting to see how individual topics are performing without having to create a separate ad group for each topic.
Across the board, advertisers expressed satisfaction with performance and understanding that the lack of sophisticated bells and whistles comes with being a new platform. They’re expecting progress, though. “We hope that we can scale further as Quora continues to build out their offering,” says Simonsen.
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