7 Quora ads mistakes and how to avoid them

No need to reinvent the wheel. Learn how contributor JD Prater got things wrong with Quora ads so you can avoid these errors, as he shares his learnings from participating in the beta.

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Quora Wordmark2 1920Quora has made a big push to pique the interest of advertisers. While they’re better known as the network for asking questions and connecting with people who contribute unique insights and quality answers, they’re now shifting to monetize the network with their global release of Quora Ads.

In January, my employer, AdStage, was lucky enough to get beta access and take the ads platform for a spin. So far, we’ve been extremely impressed with their rollout, ad platform interface and support. Plus we’ve seen great results, with 93 percent of traffic coming from new users, low CPCs (costs per click) (below $0.50), and fantastic CPAs (costs per acquisition).

However, these results only came after we made a lot of mistakes.

Therefore, in an effort to help you streamline your campaign performance, here are the top seven Quora Ads mistakes we made and how to avoid them.

Mistake #1: Incorrect/unusual use of capitalization and abbreviations

If you’ve written text ads, then you won’t have any difficulty creating Quora text ads. It’s similar to writing text ads on other networks, but with slightly different character counts and guidelines.

Quora’s ad policies are different from AdWords’ or Bing’s. They have high standards for their ads and expect them to be as high-quality as the content they appear alongside. That said, all ads must adhere to Quora Ads content policies and guidelines and should be clear, well-formatted and free from grammatical, capitalization and punctuation errors.

Our ad copy frequently contained unnecessary capitalization, specifically in the Headline Sentence, because we were trying to employ some AdWords tactics. Thankfully, they’ll send you a nice email explaining exactly why your ad violated their ad policies and what needs to be fixed.

Quora email notice

How to avoid this mistake

The Headline Sentence fields should be composed of a full sentence, complete with a punctuation mark. Using a full sentence is very different from what we’re accustomed to with 30-character headlines in AdWords and Bing.

  • Headline Sentence: Maximum of 65 characters
  • Not permitted: Looking for machine learning experts — learn more today.
  • Acceptable: We are looking for machine learning experts. Learn more today.

Title case — where the first letter of every word is capitalized — should not be used unnecessarily. Actual titles (such as articles, books and movies), which justify the use of title case, are acceptable.

  • Not permitted: Learn More About Our Services By Signing Up Today.
  • Acceptable: Learn more about our services by signing up today.
  • Acceptable: Buy Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone today.

Mistake #2: Not importing existing ad sets and ads

It’s obvious Quora took a page from Facebook when building out their campaign structure. It’s nearly identical to Facebook’s, with objectives living at the campaign level and targeting/bidding at the ad set level.

When we started building our campaign structure, we were manually creating individual ad sets with three to five ads in every ad set. This process was a huge time suck, until we discovered the import button.

How to avoid this mistake

Next to the “create a new ad set” button lives a little button that gives you the ability to import the settings from an existing Quora ad set. This makes the process for duplicating and creating new ad sets faster and more efficient.

Quora import keywords
You can also import existing ads, which speeds up the ad creation process. It’s much faster to create your base ads, then duplicate and modify across your ad sets.

Also, don’t forget to add UTM parameters to your ads or update them when duplicating across ad sets and campaigns.

Quora Import Exisiting Ads


Mistake #3: Not importing keywords to find topics

Quora Ads is set up to target people based on topics. This makes a lot of sense. People reading and answering questions on Quora about a specific topic are more likely to click through on an ad related to that topic.

The problem is how to know which topic to select if you’re not familiar with Quora. We made the mistake of spending too much time sifting through all the topics just to find the top five or so that were relevant to our business.

How to avoid this mistake

Do you have niche keywords? What about keywords that are performing well in your search campaigns? Great! Copy and paste your top-performing keywords from AdWords, and Quora will provide suggestions for comparable topics. If you’re unsure which topics to target, this is the best way to get started.

Quora import keywords get topics

From here, select the topics you decide are relevant. Don’t make our mistake: Let Quora do the heavy lifting to find and match topics for you.

Mistake #4: Starting too broad, then not knowing what’s working

Our very first campaign was set up to understand whether there was significant volume on the network. It was created in under 10 minutes with the goal of discovering whether it was worth spending more time and resources on this beta.

Well, it performed better than expected, but we were left wondering what actually worked. Based on our ad set structure, we didn’t have visibility into what was working or how to scale performance.

How to avoid this mistake

You can see we started by targeting the US, UK and Canada across desktop and mobile in one ad set. Without the help of Google Analytics, it was nearly impossible to figure out what was working.

Because of this, we decided to break out ad sets by country and device (desktop and mobile). This allowed us to determine what was working and scale performance. Here’s an example from one of our campaigns, from the beginning to now.

Updated ad set structure

Based upon our learnings, we recommend setting up campaigns by objective + general topic, and ad sets based on locations and device.

In our example, each campaign topic now has three countries with device-specific ad sets, for a total of six ad sets. This gives us insight into what’s working by country and device, which allows us to make optimizations and scale performance.

Mistake #5: Not excluding irrelevant questions

After a few weeks of running our campaigns, a co-worker noticed one of our ads showing up on a question that wasn’t relevant for our target audience. I dove into our ad set targeting to find out why.

This is when we discovered the ability to exclude specific questions under topics. In its targeting interface, Quora reveals specific questions that fall underneath the broader topics.

In the example below, I typed in the topic “Facebook” to show the specific questions that populate under that topic. You can see that a question about Facebook for Work appears, and, for us, that’s not relevant, so we excluded it.

Exclude Locations and Questions

How to avoid this mistake

At the ad set level, you’ll find Quora offers the ability to exclude certain locations and questions. It’s extremely valuable and shouldn’t be overlooked — especially if your company doesn’t operate in certain locations, you’re concerned about brand safety, or you want to remove questions that don’t pertain to your business.

I highly recommend conducting research on topics to understand which questions you don’t want your ad appearing on. You want to make sure you establish the best topic-product fit for maximum results.

Mistake #6: Bidding too low and not winning the auction

After inputting your targeting, it’s time to set up your bid. Quora gives a suggested bid, similar to Pinterest and Facebook. It’s really tempting to start with the lowest or suggested bid. At least, that was our mistake.

Quora Suggested Bid

Quora Suggested Bid

It’s important to understand the Quora auction. When a user visits an ad-eligible page on Quora, all ads are considered from all eligible advertisers based on the topic/keyword targeting of their ad sets. The winners of the auction are the ads that — according to Quora’s predictions — have the highest value for the ads slot.

How is “value” determined? Quora determines value by a combination of factors, including:

  • the likelihood of the user clicking on each ad.
  • the bid of each ad.
  • the effect of showing each ad on the user experience.

In other words, don’t opt for the lowest bid.

How to avoid this mistake

To win the auction, start with an initial high bid to enter the auction as a strong contender. The goal is to earn a high CTR (click-through rate), because you’re in the top ad position. Being in the top ad position means more people will see your ad, as opposed to the lower ad positions that may not be seen by users.

In our tests, earning higher CTRs results in lower CPCs and more impressions (higher ad position) because the ad is deemed relevant to the user experience. It’s a feedback loop that’s heavily influenced by your initial bid. The Quora ads auction resembles LinkedIn’s auction in this regard.

My advice is to determine the most you’re willing to pay for a click, and start there. Of course, to optimize your ad results, you should test different bids to understand how the Quora algorithm works.

Mistake #7: Not paying attention to potential weekly impressions

On the right-hand side of the ad set page, you’ll find a nice little summary of the demographic targeting. Don’t overlook this summary, because in it contains your potential weekly impressions based on your targeting.

Here’s an example of six perfect topics for our target audience. After a few days, we noticed the ad set didn’t have any impressions. Our mistake was thinking we had found the perfect topics without understanding the volume associated with them.

Potential Weekly Impressions

How to avoid this mistake

The ad set summary is easy to miss, but it’s really valuable for understanding the estimated reach from the targeted topics/keywords you selected. Otherwise, you might be left wondering if all this work was worth it. And don’t be afraid to expand the topics targeting to get more weekly impressions and go a little broader to ensure you’re able to enter the auction.


We made a lot of mistakes in our first few months. However, I think paid search and paid social account managers will appreciate the Quora Ads Manager. The best elements of AdWords and Facebook have been incorporated to an intuitive platform for advertisers. So go ahead and experiment with the ad platform — just don’t get weighed down by the same mistakes we made.

Contributing authors are invited to create content for MarTech and are chosen for their expertise and contribution to the martech community. Our contributors work under the oversight of the editorial staff and contributions are checked for quality and relevance to our readers. The opinions they express are their own.

About the author

JD Prater
JD Prater is the Head of User Acquisition & Growth at AdStage. He's a growth marketer, digital strategist, and avid cyclist. A stereotypical coffee snob and recovering Coloradan, he’s a creative thinker who sees the big picture but loves getting lost in the details.

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