5 Paid Traffic Sources Every Online Marketer

For Marketers, paid traffic sources can be a really powerful tool. In a survey conducted by Emarketer in 2017, it was discovered that 42% of  Small and Medium Scale consider Facebook and other Social ads as the most effective marketing method available to them, even better than their own websites or email lists.

Paid traffic sources can be from sites or platforms other than Facebook, though. By definition, any service you pay for which drives leads or eyeballs to you is a paid traffic source. 

Here are some of the well known paid traffic sources:

  • Display ads, i.e. those things on the side of the web page your that your ad blocker hides or erases
  • Paid search, like Google AdWords or Bing Ads; sites that pop up at the top as suggestions when you type in a search query on your search engine.
  • Social media ads, the sponsored content that appears in your Instagram, Facebook or Twitter feeds or other placement areas, or before the YouTube video you clicked on
  • Sponsored content — This is a type of content marketing that appears like an article on a website or even in a print mag i.e. it looks native to its publishing source but is actually a piece of content marketing for a brand.
  • Influencer marketing, This is where a social media influencer promotes your product, service or brand to their large audience amassed due to their fame or influence.

There are many ways to use paid traffic sources. It depends on the type of marketing you’re buying – it could be by Pay Per Click (PPC), Pay Per View (PPV), Pay Per Acquisition (PPA), or it could just be a flat rate for each output. For example, with a social media influencer, you typically purchase a certain number of posts.

There are also some old-fashioned forms of display advertising, which you just pay to keep your ad displayed for a certain duration of time.

That’s quite a number of options. Finding out which works for you could be time-consuming and generally be an inefficient use of your time. From experience, a mix of organic and paid traffic is usually the most effective way to grow a business.

The exact magic combination will then depend on your target audience. Regardless, when you’re testing paid traffic sources to decide which is best for your business, these are the five you should consider first for best results:

  1. Google Adwords
  2. Facebook Ads
  3. Outbrain Amplify For Advertisers
  4. LinkedIn Ads
  5. Twitter Ads

1. Google AdWords

AdWords is one of the oldest paid traffic sources that still offers huge potential rewards, though the cost per click may be relatively high. The basic idea is that you select keywords that you think your potential customers will search, you then bid on putting your ad as one of the sponsored search results at the top of the search page.

With ongoing developments in the online advertising world, Adwords has also gotten more sophisticated than it used to be.

Now dynamic search ads can be used. This is a feature that customizes your ads based on the content on your website and what people are searching without having to make adjustments to your list of keywords all the time. AdWords is one of the paid traffic sources that also offer marketers the ability to make bid adjustments by target users, device, by geographic area or demographic group.

Also, it retargets people who have visited or engaged with your website before. You’ll have a higher chance of success the more specifically you can target your Adwords.

Figuring out the exact little details and intricacies that work best for your brand takes experimentation. This is achieved through trial, so keep detailed records of which changes produced good results as you move along and keep optimizing accordingly.

Google also has the offering of display ads on it’s Google Display Network. Discerning marketers are now well aware of the bad rap Display ads get these days, and for a good reason. Below is a heat-map study from the Nielsen Norman Group showing how even those without initiated ad blockers ignore display advertising:

On the other side of the coin, GDN reaches 90% of people on the internet. Hence, It will just depend heavily on your audience and your keywords selection whether or not GDN ads work for you. If your AdWords are killing, fantastic, keep at it. Still not sure? Here’s a flowchart to help you decide.

In short

  • AdWords now offer tons of targeting and remarketing options, so test, test, test and test some more to find out what works.
  • It won’t come as a surprise if Google Display Ads aren’t worth it for most businesses, but it is definitely worth a try if you’re finding a lot of success with AdWords.
  1. Facebook Ads

95.8% of social media managers surveyed unsurprisingly said Facebook ads gave them the best ROI of any social platform. It goes without saying, that Facebook advertising is a must for a marketer or anyone at all paying for traffic. However, Facebook has LOTS of options, and they keep changing constantly.

Do you want to put your ad in newsfeeds, messenger, on Instagram, or in the audience network?  Are you looking to target by place, interest, age or find prospects similar to a group you know already works using lookalike audiences? Do you want to use video, images, text, slideshows, or collections?

The biggest advantage of Facebook is that it’s possible to reach exactly who you want in exactly the way you intend to reach them. You can create big or small campaigns, dynamic and static campaigns, retargeting campaigns, campaigns with a huge spend or campaigns with minimal spend.

Facebook also has lead ads, that make it extra easy for people to give you their information. Link ads, that send people to your website. Or ads that contain in-Facebook product catalogues, which does automatic retargeting.

Yes, it can be a lot to learn, but it’s also easy to get started. There are Experts such as Jon Loomer that can help you stay abreast or on top of best practices. Plus, there are loads of tools that can help you optimize your campaigns without having to become a full FB ad pro.

In summary

  • Advantages: lots of options

  • Disadvantages: lots of options

  • If you’re still in limbo, get help, or just play around and see what works, you never know!

  1. Outbrain Amplify For Advertisers

Amplify as a paid traffic source works differently than AdWords or Facebook ads, in that it doesn’t do ads. Instead, it provides a platform where you put a link to your awesome content.

This is where you begin the relationship with your prospect, bringing them down the funnel by providing nothing but useful, valuable, funny, informative and endearing content. Amplify is similar to Facebook and AdWords in the sense that it offers a cost-per-click bidding system. It is also able to test multiple headlines directed to the same content, geographic targeting, device targeting, lookalike audiences, and custom audiences, the retargeting tool.

They have a premium network of publishers that ensure that you’ll always be getting traffic from high-quality sources. More importantly, though, the algorithms behind their content discovery platform are continuously working to ensure they find the most engaged audience for your content. It is important to note also that the people who click their content recommendations are much more engaged than the traffic sourced come from search or social, according to this analysis from 2016:

It’s not just upper-funnel, though: see how One King’s Lane used our Custom Audiences tool to drive four times more conversions.

In Summary

  • Content discovery can hit consumers anywhere along the sales funnel
  • Retargeting is the conversion driver here

4. LinkedIn Ads

For marketers in the B2B space, LinkedIn’s native ads is a great paid traffic source option. You can target people who have visited your website; target by title, industry, contact or account, by demographics, or geography. Their options are a display ad, a sponsored post in people’s feeds, or InMail ads delivered to the registered emails on the platform.

Similar to Facebooks Lead Ads, they offer a prefilled contact form. The most exciting thing about LinkedIn however, is the ability to target people by their business information and to reach them in the “confined garden” of LinkedIn.

Just like how discovery has lower bounce rates than social because users are in “content consumption” mode when users are inside of LinkedIn they’re in “professional” or their “work” mode and will see the ads and read content therein with a different mindset.

This could be very strong point of leverage for the right advertiser. According to marketingland, LinkedIn ads are best suited to high-value B2B products and services, recruiters, and higher ed.

However, LinkedIn’s network is quite expensive as it’s priced on a cost-per-click. It’ll be impossible to find any targeting for less than $2 per click, and most of the targeting will start at $4.50 which is relatively on the high side of things.

 For example this one:


In summary

  • LinkedIn is best suited to B2B, higher ed, and recruiters
  • Expensive but absolutely worth it for the right people
  1. Twitter Ad

paid traffic sources

For those familiar with Twitter, you can agree that it is quite an interesting one because if you’re good at it, you should be able to generate tons of organic (free) interactions. In the same vein, Twitter is one platform where people can be very wary of brands co-opting what they see as part of Twitter’s ‘culture’.

Offensive or ill-timed tweets can also spiral out of control in a careless social media manager’s face.  Being “Good at” Twitter means more than just being able to make conversions or generate retweets or likes as you have it, it means a deep understanding of and sensitivity to the medium.

If you are great at Twitter, the payoff is massive. 94% of customers will purchase something from a small or medium-scale business they follow, and 69% have bought something because of something they saw on Twitter. So you may ask, is it worth it to pay to advertise on Twitter? With the numbers above, it’s definitely worth a try.

You can pay to promote a single tweet, a trend or even an account, and either pay per click, impression, follow, video view, engagement, app install, or lead. When you design your campaign around the objective and type of promotion, then you target the audience by geography, gender, income, phone carrier, or interest.

It goes further, for “interests,” you can get as granular as keywords like specific movies or  TV shows. Twitter has a relatively high CPC, so make sure anything you promote has a very strong CTA and you may want to think hard about your goals before you create a campaign.

If your goal is to generate leads and conversions, great! If you’re only paying for followers, you might be able to get that with quality relevant content.

 In summary

  • Amazing conversion numbers for small to medium scale businesses
  • Ensure you’re not paying for something you can get free of charge


As a result of the extreme variations related to the consumer journey, it’ll do you good to have it in mind that, a mix of pay-per-click advertising and other organic channels is most probably the best way to bring potential customers through the funnel. So far as you understand the requirement to build trust and provide value first without asking for anything in return, you will certainly achieve results from these paid traffic sources.

Lastly, don’t get too caught up in expecting people to move down the funnel the way you want them to. The funnel in reality doesn’t look anything like a funnel. It looks more like this:



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