5 Paid Traffic Sources to Promote Your Site | Outbrain Blog


5 Paid Traffic Sources Every Online Marketer Should Be Testing

| Will Fleiss

Wow, there’s a lot of ways to spend money online to help grow your business. Deciding which paid traffic sources to focus on can be pretty overwhelming. Focus is essential when optimizing your marketing mix, so we’ve identified 5 paid traffic source that you should master or at least test, before looking elsewhere.

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1. Google Adwords

This one’s a no-brainer. Adwords offers one of the most versatile paid traffic solutions around, both for search and display advertising. Targeting someone by what they search online is an excellent way of understanding a visitors intent to buy your product. Often referred to as reaching someone at the “bottom of the funnel”, Adwords can be extremely effective at targeting people who are ready to buy.  Unfortunately that portion of the funnel can be pretty small, so how you attract visitors at the top of the funnel and coax them down the funnel with great content and best practice inbound marketing tactics is the hard (or harder) part of marketing online. In the early days of the internet this might have been possible with the Google Display Network (GDN), but now due to banner blindness, for the most part we don’t really see these ads; and ya gotta see ‘em to click ‘em (you can quote me on that). Here’s a heat-map study from the Nielson Norman Group showing just how much people ignore display advertising.

Banner blindness heatmap


That being said, a hugely effective tactic that the GDN can be used to execute, is retargeting. Coupled with some of the below paid traffic sources, retargeting is a great way of advertising only to people who have already shown interest in your company by visiting your website. And not your entire website, but a particular page on your website, like…I don’t know… your pricing or checkout page! (yeah, pretty good indicator of someone who’s thinking about pulling out their wallet)

In short

-If you know what keywords your customers are punching into Google, Adwords is a no-brainer.

-The GDN has massive reach, but think about retargeting before you drop a bunch of dough on people accidently clicking on your banner.

2. Facebook Ads

Over the last couple of years, the Facebook ad platform has evolved a great deal. In it’s early days I was definitely a naysayer, but now it’s hard to find an online marketer worth their salt that doesn’t think Facebook offers extremely effective ways of driving targeted paid traffic. Not only can you choose the type of people you want to reach (gender, age, occupation, to name a few), but you can also target audiences that are similar to your existing customer base. That’s right, Facebook will actually find people similar to the ones who have already purchased your product. You can do all the demographic, geographic, contextual, or behavioral targeting you want, but I’d take the behavior of actually paying for your own product, over any of that, when it comes to finding your next customer.

In case you don’t believe me or think this sounds too complicated, here’s a super simple demo from that Jon Loomer on how to do it.

The downside of a constantly evolving platform is that you’ll need to keep up with the changes regularly via blogs and updates on their platform. I’ll actually go as far as to say that the key to success on Facebook is to stay connected to their updates. So seriously, stay up-to-date on their updates.

In short

-Get your Lookalike Audience on!

-And follow people like Jon Loomer like a hawk.

3. Outbrain Amplify

OK, obviously I’m extremely biased here, but you can’t dispute the facts. When a company outranks Google and Facebook for unique visitors on a comScore top 30 list, and you’re looking for paid traffic sources, I’m pretty sure you need to check it out.

comScore ranking - Outbrain, Google, Facebook

via comScore Media Matrix study

Now, we definitely won’t take your ads like Facebook and Google, but there’s no question you’ll want to use us to drive traffic to those awesome blog posts, articles, videos, and third-party reviews… This is where you start the relationship with your potential customer, bringing them down the funnel by providing nothing but valuable, useful, funny, and endearing content.  Similar to Facebook and AdWords, Amplify offers a cost-per-click bidding system, the ability to test multiple headlines directed to the same content, device targeting, and geographic targeting. Our premium network of publishers ensure that your always getting traffic from high quality sources. More importantly though, the algorithms behind our content discovery platform are constantly working to find the most engaged audience for your content. The people who click our content recommendations are far more engaged than people who come from search or social, and we can prove! Here’s are a couple of the results you’ll find in our Discovery vs Search vs Social Audience Engagement Study:

Discovery vs. Search vs. Social


While Outbrain may be best for building that relationship with great content, many of our customers have seen great success using us to drive traffic to a recent press article or blog post, and then retargeting that person in Google’s Display Network or through Facebook’s Custom Audience retargeting. So in reality, social, search, and discovery actually work together quite nicely.

In short

-Outbrain outranks Google & Facebook for monthly unique visitors, so when looking for paid traffic sources, we are a must!

-Use Outbrain Amplify to drive highly engaged traffic to your great content, then retarget those visitors on the GDN and Facebook.

See what your content could look like being recommended on CNN

CNN content demonstration

-Bonus post about Outbrain’s impact on SEO: How to Distribute Your Content at Scale and Get Google Juice Now

4. LinkedIn Ads

For those of you in the B2B market, LinkedIn Ads could be a great paid traffic source. Their 3 main advertising options are sponsored updates, display and text ads, and InMail.  It’s hard for the B2B marketer not to be intrigued by a platform that allows you to target by job title and job functions. Other targeting options are location, age, gender, skills, company by name, industry, company size, school, and group. LinkedIn’s network is priced on a cost-per-click and it’s pretty expensive. You won’t find any targeting for less than $2 per click, and a lot of the targeting will start at $4.50.  For example this one:

LinkedIn paid traffic campaign manager


With their sponsored updates offering, you can not currently target people on only mobile or only desktop, and according their SVP of Product & User Experience, Deep Nishar, this year over 50% of their global audience will be mobile. So make sure your mobile experience is great if you’re doing any sponsored posts. LinkedIn just announce the opening of their API to ad partners, so definitely keep a close eye on what types of features their partners will be announcing.

In short

-It’s an expensive place to start with paid traffic.

-For the B2B marketer the targeting is almost impossible to ignore, but if your doing sponsored updates, make sure you have a great mobile experience for your visitors.

5. Twitter Ads

Twitter has some pretty sweet targeting options. Probably one of the coolest ones is that you can target people who are tweeting about a particular television program. That’s probably not great for driving traffic though. You can also target by keyword, interests and followers, and even tailored audiences, similar to what Facebook is doing with their Custom Audience targeting. Their “Tailored Audiences” support page is definitely worth a read.  One of my favorite features of Twitter Ads is their lead card feature that allows you to collect someone’s email address without leaving twitter.

Twitter cards lead generation example


All that said, twitter’s CPC is typically pretty expensive, and before you drop a ton of cash here, make sure your prospective customer spends time here. What does the organic traffic that comes from Twitter to your website currently do? If you’re already getting conversions, then definitely go for a test!

In short

-Great targeting options.

-But make sure this is where your audience hangs out.


The customer journey is extremely varied, so remember that in reality a mix of pay-per-click advertising and other organic channels is probably the best way to bring potential customers down the funnel. As long as you understand the importance of building trust and providing value first without asking for anything in return, you will achieve results from these paid traffic sources. And don’t get too caught up in expecting people to go down the funnel the way you want them to. The funnel doesn’t actually look anything like a funnel. It looks more like this:


Actual marketing funnel

via the Forrester blog

See what your content could look like being recommended on CNN

CNN content demonstration

Will Fleiss

Will Fleiss

Will leads content marketing at Outbrain. He's been doing online marketing for 10+ years, spending time on the agency-side at... Read more

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  • Luis Cabrera| October 22, 2014 at 1:13PM

    Is there a all in one sollution?
    What is the king as traffic source?

    • Brent Dunn| August 23, 2015 at 2:14PM

      Google Adwords / Facebook covers most the traffic.

  • Gohar Ayub| October 24, 2014 at 4:04AM

    Hi, Thanks for the suggestions. I was looking at outbrain website to check for their prices. They didn’t mention the actual pay per click for a budget. Have you used them? Whats the cost per click?


    • Brent Dunn| February 16, 2016 at 10:22PM

      Outbrain charges a minimum of $.25 a click. But there traffic is on super high quality sites, so it’s worth it.

      If they’re outside of your budget I made a very large list of traffic sources here: https://ppcmode.com/paid-traffic/

  • Gohar Ayub| October 24, 2014 at 4:04AM

    Sorry I didn’t see the blog source. Its from outbrain. So how many clicks I can get for 10 USD?

  • Will Fleiss
    Will Fleiss| October 27, 2014 at 3:15PM

    Hi Gohar,

    Thanks for the question. It depends how you set your cost-per-click bid. If you set a $.50 CPC with a $10/day budget you’ll get 20 clicks per day. Because of the competitive nature of our marketplace, your ability to get clicks is always fluctuating based on your CPC, your click-through-rate (CTR), and everyone else’s CPC and CTR. We currently recommend putting your starting bid at $.60, but you may need to go higher if the market is more competitive at the time you launch or your content is not getting a high CTR. If you do get clicks at $.60 and you are spending your entire budget, you can start to adjust your CPC down by $.01 per day.

    Does that make sense?

  • Rita robert| November 13, 2014 at 9:09AM

    Hi will,
    I am a new bee in this affiliate marketing. I hav an account in click bank and promoting the products in facebook .But it’s been two weeks and nothing in ROI .And some of my ads are not approved.So trying to nitch in some other high traffic sites.I need to know where do I find them and how to go about.

    • Will Fleiss
      Will Fleiss| November 13, 2014 at 10:10AM

      Hi Rita,

      Thanks for the question!

      Can you show me a link to some content you’ve been promoting and I’ll see if I can give you some advice?

  • ryan| November 21, 2014 at 2:02AM

    hi will, i’m doing PPV does outbrain support PPV? Min Bid for US traffic is $0.01? Does outbrain has international traffic? If yes, whats the min bid for japan?

  • Will Fleiss
    Will Fleiss| November 25, 2014 at 12:12PM

    Hi Ryan,

    Thanks for the questions, and sorry for the delay in answering! We only support a pay-per-click bidding model, so you would have to have some kind of web analytics installed on your content to understand the cost-per-view. Our minimum cost-per-click is $0.03, but depending on how competitive the network is, the geo targeting you do, and the type of content you submit it may be difficult to get a CPC that low. Yes our network includes publishers from around the world, so there are many geographic targeting capabilities.

    Do you have content in Japanese or are you just looking to receive traffic from english readers located in Japan?

  • Dany Alfonso| January 11, 2015 at 4:16PM

    Amazing article Will. Thanks for sharing.
    I agree with you in the case of LinkedIn it’snap little expensive but i’m thinking of trying it out to advertise my web design business Able MG (www.ablemg.com)
    Thanks again Will.

  • Ernie| February 8, 2015 at 6:06AM

    Contacted Outbrain sales support three times over the last month through on site form and have yet to get a reply.

  • Ernie| February 12, 2015 at 1:01AM

    Thanks Will, for helping me help myself. Anyone who wants to get started on Outbrain with a self-managed account can start here: http://www.outbrain.com/amplify

  • Sanjay| April 2, 2015 at 2:02AM

    Will – can you suggest an approach for the site uxfin.com. This is a free site to help people validate the rate of interest, evaluate business for complex cases. This can be used by persons taking or re-negotiating their loans, to investors and professional consultants who want to evaluate business / venture / investment returns

  • Rohit Raina| April 5, 2015 at 7:07AM

    Plz help me develop my content of onesearchline.com

  • Brent Dunn| April 14, 2015 at 8:20PM

    Pretty good list of the big companies.

    You’re however missing ALOT of other traffic opportunities.

    I know you’re a traffic source yourself though 😉 so I understand why you left them out.

    • Sravan| August 15, 2015 at 2:14PM

      Hello Brent, can you name the few you like most and are real traffic generators? I love OutBrain – used their Amplify service once and found good results.

  • Ikhtiar Hossain| July 8, 2015 at 10:10AM

    Really a nice article I found. thanks
    Can you tell me about some free traffic, will?

  • Rahul Sen| July 24, 2015 at 7:07AM

    Really nice article. I am sure its gonna help a lot out there who wants good traffic. But could you tell us some free traffic generating ways as well?

  • Ajay Gupta| August 11, 2015 at 10:22PM

    we are online market place in delhi,india , want to know how to do content marketing ,converting customer from content , incresing engagement with content

    facebook mainland

  • Mike| August 22, 2015 at 6:18PM

    How much is the minimum daily budget?… Facebook is $1

    • Will Fleiss
      Will Fleiss| August 24, 2015 at 5:17PM

      Hi Mike,

      Our minimum daily budget is $10. You, of course, only pack for the clicks that you get, so it’s possible to spend less than $10/day, but that is currently the required starting budget. Let me know if you have any more questions.

      • Robert Keiper| October 12, 2015 at 12:00AM

        Hi Will,

        The prices I’ve discovered on a few of what are considered reliable, well managed highly targeted traffic generators is i.e. $100 for 100 clicks, $500 for 450 clicks, $1,000 for 950 clicks, $1,600 for 1550 clicks and even $8,397 for I believe (if I am correctly recalling) 8,000 clicks. Do these prices fall in line with what you know and perhaps the research you have done ( I assume by your wide array of knowledge on this subject matter)? Thanks for input pre response! Robert

  • Abhishek| May 17, 2016 at 9:09AM

    I think outbrain is the best among all the ones listed as it targets only relevant people unlink facebook and google.


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