5 of the Best Places to Buy PPC Ads

Whether you’re looking to generate new leads or retarget old visitors, PPC advertising may be the most effective tool in your marketing strategy. But before you optimize your campaign, and before you even set up an ad, you have to decide where you want your ads to appear.

Don’t just set up a campaign on Google Adwords. It’s best for you to consider all the options available to you. Establish your goals, and weigh the pros and cons of each outlet. You may find that what’s best for everyone else isn’t what’s best for you.

To get you started with scoping out options, I’ve laid out five of the best places where you can find and buy PPC advertising.

1) Search Engines

PPC ads in a Google search

And not just Google. If you’re looking at advertising on search engines, you might want to check out each of “the big three:” Google, Bing, and Yahoo.

The benefit of advertising with the big three is the variety and volume of traffic you can reach. The vast majority of searchers (97% as of July 2015) are on one of these networks. If you’re able to target and optimize your campaign, you can easily reach your target consumer through these outlets.

Bing runs the search advertising for Yahoo’s search engine, but Yahoo has recently pushed their Gemini platform as an alternative. With the ability to create one ad for both their search engine and content pages, Yahoo Gemini has caught the interest of many advertisers.

While these three outlets have an unbeatable reach, their services can also be expensive. Everyone is buying with these networks, and keywords get pretty competitive. Try considering one of the other options if you’re looking for something more affordable. If you execute it right, they can also be just as effective.

2) Advertising Networks

Ad networks, including publisher networks and display networks, aggregate ad space on websites across the internet. They range in specialties, from display ad spaces to contextual ads, and offer a way for you to get your ad on a variety of websites.

PPC banner ad on a website

Where are some good places to start? Again, Google has one of the broadest and most-used platforms for display ads. But you might also want to look at Microsoft’s network, or AOL.

Again, the largest players also have the most competitive arenas, and can be costly. There are plenty of alternative advertising networks that offer similar services but at a fraction of the cost. These networks might be your best option for reaching a niche market on a budget.

Which should you choose? Keep in mind what websites your customer tends to visit. Maybe you’re targeting a consumer that happens to frequent Engadget. Engadget is part of AOL’s ad network, so maybe your ads would be a best fit there.

Remember, though, that not all purchases through these networks are necessarily PPC. While you may be paying per click, you also might be charged per thousand views, or even a flat fee for the ad space.

3) Social Media

Social media PPC is a mix of paid advertisements and promoted posts. The example below shows a tweet that was “promoted by Capitol Corridor”:

Social Media PPC

These ads often mask themselves as content. They’ll also offer a call-to-action, and you’ll usually be charged for each “click” of the ad’s CTA. The click may lead the customer to your landing page, or prompt them to download your app, or maybe send them to a form to fill out.

Out of the 3 billion internet users, 2 billion have social media accounts. Advertising on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn allows you to target various kinds of people with your ads. Social media PPC is best used in tandem with your general social media strategy. Try using Facebook advertising to draw users to your Facebook page.

New opportunities in social media advertising allow businesses to really cater to millennials, too. Some platforms, like Snapchat and Instagram, are full of millennial users. Try advertising through these channels if you want to target them.

4) Individual Websites

If you’re set on advertising on a specific website, but find out they’re not part of an advertising network, you may want to contact them directly. A lot of sites run their own advertising, and you can purchase PPC space directly from them.

One popular example is Plenty of Fish, a free dating website. With millions of users, POF offers a way for you to advertise directly through them and target the audience you wish.

Plenty of Fish Advertising
Source: Plenty of Fish

Whether you’re paying for your ads by the click depends on the website. Again, some may prefer to charge you a flat fee, or an amount based on ad impressions.

If you’re unsure about a website’s advertising opportunities, try Googling “[website] ads” or “[website] advertising.” Websites that offer direct ad space will normally have a sales pitch or advertiser portal for you to find more information.

Buzzfeed Advertising
Source: Buzzfeed

5) Apps and Mobile Platforms

Mobile: the newest frontier. Of course, many mobile sites use the same process of setting up ads as their desktop counterparts. Once you set up your ad, you’re able to target based on device, and that ad will simply show only for mobile users.

But the newest opportunity lies with apps. Depending on your ad and your campaign goals, you can buy in-app PPC advertising (as well as many other forms of advertising, like pay per lead or pay per action).

Apps, much like individual websites, offer ad space both through networks and on an individual basis, depending on the app you want to target. Large app conglomerates like Zynga and Rovio (the makers of Farmville and Angry Birds, respectively) offer their own advertising services for their app library.

Rovio Advertising
Source: Rovio

If you’re looking to target a small app creator or indie app, you might want to look into mobile advertising networks like Tapjoy. These networks buy ad space from a bunch of apps, and sell them to interested advertisers.

Mobile is where it’s at, so don’t discount the opportunity to advertise in apps. Mobile use has been growing, and now trumps desktop use. Consider what apps your customer is using, and think about advertising through those outlets.

How Do You Choose?

Now that you’re inundated with choices, how could you possibly choose one?

Well for starters, don’t just choose one. The best PPC campaigns have ads running in multiple places across multiple devices. Whenever you find a new outlet to advertise on, ask yourself:

Will my customer see this, and will they click on it?

If the answer is yes, you might want to consider allocating a test budget to try out that outlet. Pay for a small amount of PPC with that provider, and see how well you perform. If things go well, consider increasing that budget.

If you’re not sure where you customer is even visiting, it may be time for some market research. Before you even set test budgets, you’ll need to have an idea of where PPC advertising might work.

And after you allocate test budgets and choose your advertising outlets, make sure you continuously optimize your campaigns. In time, it may be worth revisiting some of the providers you passed up. After all, PPC isn’t static, and you always want to be sure your campaign is performing its best.

Read more: How to Get New Clients: Top Tips from Successful PPC Agencies