Pros and Cons of Quora Ads – A 90 Day Look

Before We Begin

There are articles out there that share how to start advertising on Quora, so I’m not going to delve into the technical details on setting up your first campaign. Instead I want to focus on our agency’s experience with using Quora ads the past three months. If you’re looking for advice on creating your first campaign, JD Prater at AdStage did a great write up I recommend you check out.

Quora Ads Overview

Overall, I’m happy with their Beta offering. Their support team has been responsive the couple times I’ve run into problems and that gives me faith that they will scale their ad support team the same way in the future. ZATO’s owner, Kirk, has also had great experiences chatting with Quora ad reps at conferences, and they are clearly devoted from the beginning to strong customer service. This is important and something that’s lacking in the self-serve ad industry and I believe Quora’s showing us they not only care about their audience, but the advertiser’s user experience as well.

Quora Ads is a new offering and with all new offerings, it starts out relatively straightforward and basic. Their self-serve platform is at the moment strictly text ads with a 65 character headline and 105 character body copy. No retargeting or retargeting-based audiences yet but I’m sure it’s only a matter of time. The interface is similar to other ad platforms out there like AdWords and Facebook, so if you’re already familiar with one of those, Quora ads should be a piece of cake to set-up and understand.

How About Those CPCs?

Pro: Low CPC’s
Con: Low Intent.

In the accounts we’re managing in Quora, our CPC’s are consistently in the $0.50-$0.80 range. Those are great CPC’s for expensive industries like SaaS or B2C with longer sales cycles that are willing to pay a couple hundred for solid leads, which means a CPC of $4-8 isn’t abnormal as long as it’s generating leads.

However, since Quora isn’t an intent-focused offering, that’s about the range I’d expect from interest advertising. I’m willing to pay a lot more for users who are seeking my client’s products (i.e. AdWords, Bing) because the conversion rate is higher. In the case of Quora, you can do your best to target intent but in the end, it’s still an interest-based offering (with basic demo filtering), so regardless of low CPC’s, it all goes full circle back to CPA’s.

Opportunities for Quora to Grow as a Platform

I believe Quora has an opportunity to build a more effective product once they implement retargeting and a lookalike audience option. They have the content (in the form of crowdsourced questions) advertisers want to show up on but right now it’s not specific enough to allow us to filter out irrelevant users.

For example, one of our Quora Ads testers has been a company named Dataquest (an online platform for learning data science).  If I want to target users with an interest in learning data science or taking data science courses, I need to target all the data science interests to get a large enough audience to even show up consistently. This decreases the relevance since I could be showing up on questions senior developers are asking that are too advanced to be relevant for an audience that’s interested in learning data science. Combining the low relevance of interest-based audiences and low ad visibility, it makes for low CTR. CTR brings me to my next pro and con…

What About Ad Engagement?

Pro: High Conversion Rate
Con: Low CTR.

Yes, you read that right. Low click-through-rate and high conversion rate. In one of our accounts, we’re seeing a 0.3% CTR and a 5% conversion rate. Usually, but not always, conversion rate and click-through-rate have a causality to them. So for you analytics nerds, let’s dissect this a bit.

For starters, what does a low CTR generally signal? Off the top of my head: bad (or un-optimized) ad copy, low audience relevance, low ad visibility.

What does a high conversion rate mean? Truthful ad copy (people won’t follow through if their journey from ad to landing page is abrupt or inconsistent), highly-optimized landing pages, good audience targeting, good offer, etc.

So, back to my point, what does both a low CTR and high conversion rate mean? It means users are either not seeing my ads or they don’t find them relevant, but for the users that actually see the ad and click through, they convert at a higher rate than other ad platforms that only utilize interest targeting.

Opportunities for Quora to Grow as a Platform

Allow advertisers to curate their interests at a niche level and add in some negative targeting options. Ideally, advertisers would be able to target individual questions. In fact, let’s call this my number one request for Quora Ads. This would give us far more control and power over the most specific questions, while still being able to advertise more broadly on an interest level at lower CPCs.

Back to the data science example, if I can target “learning data science” categories and remove authors with senior developer or webmaster in their title, then it follows that I’d be able to filter out advanced topics, leaving me with more elementary data science questions. There’s a lot of potential but getting people’s attention is difficult since being able to parallel the intent of the content of an ad to the question being asked on the page the ad shows up on is still not refined in my opinion.

Platform Experience for Advertisers

Pro: Easy ad build
Con: High Disapproval Rate

Their ad builder is super straightforward. Just enter a headline sentence, a couple body sentences, a landing page URL and a display URL and you’re golden.

The ad making experience isn’t complex but the approval process can be challenging in certain circumstances. In their advertising TOS, they explain not to use camel case in ad titles or body copy, it’s required to be sentence case. That’s their prerogative but the automated filters don’t seem to be able to catch the difference between camel case and commonly capitalized words like proper nouns, so be prepared to open up support tickets during edits or when adding in new campaigns. It’s a small con but it can be frustrating when the 5-10 disapproval emails are getting sent to the client and whoever else is connected to the account.

Opportunities for Quora to Grow as a Platform

Until their automated disapproval process is refined, I believe it would be beneficial to get human eyes on ads before they’re marked as disapproved. Even adding in an “In Review” warning would be better than the alternative.

So, Should You Use Quora Ads?


Final answer: it depends (shocker).

I think there are certain industries it could work amazingly well in. A couple that come to mind: political organizations, mission-based non-profits, SaaS, religion, consulting, law, insurance, financial services, etc. What we have found to be true (which, by the way is exactly what Quora reps have confirmed with us), is that accounts who tend to already have a strong presence on Quora will likely be the best fit here. This is likely because the clients were attracted as a good “fit” to Quora in the beginning, but it’s possible that a client who has never tried Quora before can find success with the ads. Just be aware that the style of the Q&A format might change the way the ads or interests are chosen.

As with all definitive statements in online advertising, there are exceptions to the rule. With the right amount of creativity and strategy, you could probably make Quora work well for you regardless of your industry.

After all, it depends on what people are asking and if you see an opportunity to show up on relevant questions about a product or service you promote. If this works with your account, then I say go for it.

Do you have examples of industries where Quora ads has worked well? Tweet me at @timmhalloran, I’d love to hear more about your own experiences.