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5 Free Alternatives to the (Discontinued) Google Ad Planner

Google Ad Planner was a core tool used by media planners and buyers from 2008, all the way till it was discontinued in late 2012. It utilized aggregated data sources and proprietary data from Google products to extrapolate rich information about websites you could buy advertising from directly. Advertisers primarily used the tool to assess a website’s traffic volumes, demographics, category, and ad placement types.


RIP Google Ad Planner :(

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Here are some alternatives to the Google Ad Planner, all of which are 100% free for a marketer to use:



Website: http://www.thalamus.co/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/thalamusinc
Founded: 2014
HQ: San Francisco, CA

We may be a little biased here, but we most definitely think that Thalamus is a must-use tool for any serious media planner or buyer.

Ad Companies such as Ad Networks, Web Publishers, Demand Side Platforms, & Mobile Apps (or really anyone that sells digital or mobile advertising direct) can list all their information, and be discovered by buyers looking for their offering.

With over 50,000 ad vendors in the database, data that can be viewed include an ad vendor and their: Capabilities, Contacts, Files, Reach/Demographic/Geo data, average Cost-per-Install Rates for User Acquisition, Ad Specs, their Creative Showcase, and Marketer Reviews.

On top of that, specific keywords can be searched for and filters can be applied to drill down to the exact vendors with the Channels/Geographies/Pricing Models you are looking for.

Our vision is to bring transparency into the convoluted and byzantine ecosystem of digital & mobile advertising, by making available all the data a marketer needs to source, evaluate, and connect with the perfect ad vendor matched to their goals.

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Website: https://www.quantcast.com/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/quantcast
Founded: 2005
HQ: San Francisco, CA

The de facto standard of audience measurement. Web publishers place a unique Quantcast pixel on their site, and are able to receive free data about their audience. This includes: Traffic volumes, Demographics, Geographies, Shopping Interests, Media Interests, Business & Occupation Data, General Interests, Similar Sites, and Political Interests.

However, this data is only available for ‘Quantified’ sites and their data for websites without a Quantcast pixel are only estimates of traffic volume.

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Website: http://www.similarweb.com/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/SimilarWeb
Founded: 2007
HQ: London, United Kingdom

A great tool using panel data & aggregated sources to provide rich data about websites & mobile apps. They recently started allowing web publishers to verify their traffic volumes by connecting the page with Google Analytics, to make their traffic estimates more accurate.

They also provide very useful information for marketers beyond Visits like Time on Site, Pageviews, Bounce Rate, Traffic Sources, Referring Domains, and Paid Advertising Data. A must-use in any marketers’ arsenal for competitor research or media planning.

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Website: http://www.alexa.com/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/AlexaInternet
Founded: 1996
HQ: San Francisco, CA

Still considered by some to be the standard for traffic rankings, there are still many long-tail publishers that quote Alexa rankings as justification for their site reach. However, the veracity of Alexa’s panel-based measurement methodology (mostly anonymized data from their toolbar) has long been questioned, as an opt-in service as such leads to self-selection biases which skew the data.

Many upstarts like SimilarWeb are slowly chipping away at Alexa’s established standard in the industry, but seeing as to how publishers are still quoting their Alexa scores, it may be a while before there is a more accurate currency for traffic rankings.

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Website: https://www.compete.com/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/compete
Founded: 2000
HQ: Boston, MA

Compete has kind of been the forgotten middle child of the audience measurement bunch. They were acquired by TNS in 2008 (of which was then acquired by WPP), and now sit within WPP’s Kantar Media Group.

Their methodology consists of a 1M person panel (mostly in the US), and other datasets of which are normalized before being extrapolated to traffic statistics for websites. Compete is relatively accurate for mid-size or larger sites, but tends to fall short for long-tail sites with a <10k unique userbase.

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Google Display Planner

Website: http://www.google.com/adwords/
Twitter Handle: https://twitter.com/adwords
HQ: Mountain View, CA

After Google discontinued their Ad Planner tool, they consolidated a handful of the features into the Display Planner. It is nowhere near as robust as Ad Planner, and Google has stripped out some pretty useful information like Keywords also searched for, Videos also watched, Household Income, and Education.

The Display Planner also doesn’t include any web properties that are not participating in their Adsense monetization program. (As it is believed Google is just trying to funnel marketers to buy directly through them on the Google Display Network)



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