- Paid advertising sites include online business platforms, search engines, and social media platforms that each cater to specific demographics
- Choose an advertising platform that aligns with your target audience, and use pay-per-click ads to reach customers while staying within your daily ad budget
- Respond to reviews on sites like Yelp to expand your web presence and build your online reputation
Paid advertising sites are an effective way to reach potential customers because they put your ad in front of the people who are most likely to respond to it. But digital advertising can be expensive so it’s important to choose the best online advertising platform for your business and set a daily ad spend to avoid exceeding your budget.
With the right ad campaign, you can generate leads and build brand awareness while staying in control of your ad spend and ad formats. Learn more about paid advertising sites, and discover free and low-cost alternatives for reaching new customers.
What are paid advertising sites?
Paid advertising sites are websites and online platforms that allow you to pay to display ads to potential customers. Many platforms offer both free and paid advertising options. For example, you can create and manage a free Instagram account to optimize your social media presence, and you can pay for social media ads to reach a wider audience.
Paid ad platforms vary widely in the types of ads they display, the demographics they reach, and their ad targeting options. Many sites use a pay-per-click (PPC) model, which means you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, not every time it’s displayed.
Using a combination of paid ads and free online marketing helps you optimize your advertising strategy and get the best return on your investment.
5 types of paid advertising sites
The best paid advertising platform for your small business will depend on your budget and marketing strategy. While the biggest online advertising platforms like Google and Facebook have their advantages, the most effective advertising platform for your small business may be a local advertising site or an online business platform like Yelp.
Here are five different types of digital platforms for advertising your business.
Social media platforms
Social media platforms include youth-oriented apps like TikTok and business-focused platforms like LinkedIn. Social media is great for content marketing—distributing free content that attracts people to your business—but you can also pay to promote your content in more places or to reach additional users.
Search engines include Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. These sites use an algorithm to display search results based on a user’s search query. Businesses can also pay to display their online ads alongside search results for specific keywords. Most search ads are PPC ads that are priced based on the popularity of a search term and the number of clicks it receives.
Online business platforms
Online business platforms like Yelp can boost your web presence through a mix of free features and paid tools. Potential customers can see what types of products or services you offer, read and leave reviews, see business photos, and more. It’s free to add or claim your Yelp Business Page, but businesses with Yelp Ads get 2.5x more leads, helping you secure more high-intent customers.
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Native ads appear on blogs, online newspapers, and social media platforms. They’re made to resemble the types of content that already exist on the site. For example, an e-commerce store could pay an influencer to post photos of their products on social media or hire a writer to profile their CEO for a digital magazine.
This is in contrast to earned media coverage and needs to be clearly identified as “sponsored content” in order to adhere to FTC guidelines.
Ad networks are companies that distribute digital ads to third-party websites so that businesses don’t have to purchase ad space on each site individually. Ad networks typically use a pay-per-click pricing model, but some use real-time bidding (RTB) in which algorithms “bid” for ad space automatically.
Ad networks may specialize in a particular industry or digital ad format, such as video ads, traditional banner ads, or dynamic ads.
12 paid advertising sites for small businesses
Chances are you’re familiar with some of the top online advertising platforms out there. But the best ad platform for you will depend on your location, target audience, budget, and other factors. From social media channels to advertising networks, here are 12 of the best digital advertising platforms to consider.
1. Microsoft Advertising
Microsoft Advertising, formerly Bing Ads, offers several different types of advertising, including search ads, display ads, video ads, and native ads. Microsoft promises to provide “brand-safe” advertising, which means that your ads will appear on trusted partner sites, such as Yahoo, MSN, and other related platforms.
With Microsoft Smart Ads, you’ll start by telling Microsoft about your advertising goals, such as getting more phone calls, website visitors, or foot traffic. You can also identify the geographic area you want your ads to target (within a 50-mile radius). Then, set your daily ad budget to determine how much your ad campaign will cost.
If you want to branch out beyond search ads, you can also pay for ad placement on retail sites, connected TVs, and in Microsoft games.
2. Yelp Ads
With over 80 million people visiting Yelp each month, simply adding or claiming your free Yelp Business Page can boost your online presence. Customers come to Yelp to search for businesses—from plumbers to accountants—and explore their options to see which business best meets their needs.
With Yelp Ads, your business page is placed in key places on Yelp.com and the Yelp mobile app, such as above or below relevant search results in the “Sponsored Results” sections and on your competitors’ pages. Yelp Ads uses a pay-per-click model so you only pay when someone clicks. You can pause or cancel your ad at any time and set your daily ad spend for an average cost of as little as $5 per day.
If you invest in the Upgrade Package, you’ll get access to seven Page Upgrades to help you make a great impression once someone lands on your page. This includes a customizable Call-to-Action tool and more options to show off your business logo, photos, and portfolio. When shown two businesses side-by-side in search, 95% of Yelp users said they’d choose the business with Upgrade Package features over the one without.
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3. Quora Ads
Quora is a question-and-answer platform where users can ask each other questions and post answers based on their own experience or expertise. Users can vote on the usefulness of the responses so that high-quality answers rise to the top of the list.
Since customers come to Quora looking for answers and advice, such as how to fix a household appliance, it may be an opportunity for small business owners to show off their expertise. With Quora Ads, you can set an ad budget then schedule and target your ad based on topics or interests like “real estate” or “investing.”
Quora Ads offers Text Ads, Image Ads, and Promoted Answers. These are designed to look like user-generated answers, but they’re marked as sponsored content. If you choose this option, you’ll need to ensure that your answers are accurate and useful since they can be voted up or down just like any other answer.
4. TikTok Ads
TikTok is one of the top digital advertising platforms for brands that want to target a Gen Z audience—but its video-based interface means you’ll need to get creative if you want to stand out from the competition. The entry-level advertising option is an In-Feed Ad, which looks like an ordinary TikTok post with sound and a vertical video format.
When you create a TikTok ad, you’ll have access to built-in video filters and transitions as well as integrations with video editing tools like Canva. You can also promote your existing posts to get more views, website visits, or followers.
If you need help creating your TikTok ad, you can search for a Creator to team up with or crowdsource ads from users by setting up a Branded Mission.
5. LinkedIn Ads
While TikTok is great for reaching younger demographics, you may find a better home on LinkedIn for business-to-business (B2B) marketing. This social media site offers several advertising options, including Sponsored Content, Sponsored Messaging, and Text Ads.
You can use Sponsored Content to promote an event, generate B2B leads, or simply highlight a post by a thought leader to build brand equity. Sponsored Messages are one-to-one messages that land directly in your lead or prospect’s inbox.
LinkedIn supports multiple ad formats, including video ads and carousel ads, and you can choose from three pricing options—cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-impression (CPM), and cost-per-send (CPS)—depending on your advertising objective.
6. Pinterest Ads
Like TikTok, Pinterest caters to a specific audience: primarily women (60% of users) who are interested in style, home decor, cooking, and other related topics. Pinterest claims to have 465 million monthly users, including over 52% of millennials and a growing audience of male and Gen Z users.
Pinterest users create and share “Pins” to discover new brands, keep track of items they want to purchase, or simply get inspired. Businesses can create Pins that link to an ecommerce store or website, or purchase ads for additional reach.
Ads can take the form of vertical or square image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and quizzes that users can engage with. Use the Ad Manager to set an ad goal, like building brand awareness or increasing your conversion rate. You can also target specific demographics or use ad retargeting to reach existing customers.
7. Reddit Ads
Reddit is where people go to explore ideas, engage in conversation, and learn about topics of interest. This makes it a useful advertising site for some small businesses, especially those that want to target a niche audience that isn’t anywhere else.
Reddit offers multiple ad types, including carousel, text, and video advertising. It also offers “Conversation Placements,” or ads that appear as promoted posts in a specific subreddit. Other ad options include First View, Front Page, and Category Takeover, which give your business priority ad placement for 24 hours.
You can market to specific categories of users by interest, location, or community, or use ad retargeting to re-engage with custom audiences. You’ll get a dashboard with engagement and conversion metrics for each ad you post.
AdRoll is a digital ad network that will place your ad on multiple locations around the web. It may be a good option for ecommerce brands since it integrates directly with Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce, and other major platforms.
AdRoll offers cross-channel advertising—including display ads, social media ads, and email marketing—so you can advertise on multiple platforms, including Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, and view your metrics all in one place.
Although you can run your ad campaign yourself, AdRoll also offers managed services for businesses that need extra help with their digital marketing campaigns. AdRoll uses ad retargeting to build brand awareness and reduce shopping cart abandonment.
Taboola is an advertising platform that focuses specifically on native advertising—that is, ads that fit seamlessly into a website’s existing content. Taboola has over 9,000 platforms across their publisher network, including news and editorial websites.
Taboola supports multiple ad formats, including image ads, text ads, video ads, and interactive quizzes. You can choose from ad placement options such as mid-article, below-article, and homepage placement to maximize your click-through rate.
Taboola uses a cost-per-click method to calculate ad price. They suggest a daily ad spend of $50 to ensure you have enough data to optimize your campaign.
10. Instagram Ads
You can post ads on Instagram using the Facebook Ads Manager, but Instagram has its own unique ad formats and advertising options. Brands can “boost” an existing post to turn it into an ad or use Instagram Stories or Reels to post full-screen video content.
When it comes to cost, you can use a slider to set your ad’s budget and duration and decide whether you want to encourage more profile visits, website visits, or messages. If your focus is on customer engagement, use Instagram Direct to respond to potential customers individually with Instagram’s in-app messaging feature.
Another option is to use influencer marketing to build brand awareness by partnering with a creator who already has an existing audience on Instagram.
11. Snapchat Ads
Snapchat Ads is another paid marketing platform that helps you make connections with millennials and Gen Z users. You can target your ads based on predefined audiences and set goals such as brand awareness, lead generation, or online sales.
Snapchat suggests setting a budget of $20–50 per day during the “Exploration Phase” when Snapchat will see how well your ad fares with your target audience. After that, you can lower it to as little as $5 per day and you’ll see exactly how many people your ad is expected to reach based on the budget you’ve selected.
Snapchat supports image and video ads, product collections, and stories as well as advanced formats that include filters and augmented reality effects. Use the built-in video editor to create video ads from scratch or from a template.
12. Spotify Ads
If you’re looking to branch out beyond image and video advertising, Spotify may be a worthwhile option. Catering to both music and podcast listeners, you can use Spotify Ads to reach your target audience while they’re going about their daily routine.
Spotify Ads require a minimum spend of $250, but you’ll get free access to background tracks and other production tools in the Ad Studio. More experienced advertisers have access to Private Marketplaces (PMPs) or Programmatic Guaranteed (PG) pricing.
Spotify Ads can play between songs, during podcasts, or both, and you can select your target audience based on their location, interests, and other factors. Spotify also offers context-based targeting so that your ads are only delivered to certain types of devices or only play alongside specific genres of music or podcast topics.
Choose the best online advertising platform for your business
Paid advertising sites can help you reach new customers, build brand awareness, and inform existing customers about new services or products. Many internet advertising platforms use a pay-per-click model so you’ll only pay when someone clicks on your ad. Others may have more complex pricing structures, such as cost-per-impression (CPM).
To get the best return on your investment, define your target audience in advance and create buyer personas so you know which sites they’re most likely to frequent. If you don’t have the budget for paid advertising sites, consider free and low-budget advertising options, including email marketing and word-of-mouth marketing.
Some sites are worth joining even if you don’t have a large advertising budget. Simply being on Yelp will give you access to high-intent customers, while Yelp Ads can help you reach more of them for as little as $5 per day on average.
For more ways to reach more potential customers, consider these low-cost ideas to promote your business.
The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.