The Top 17 Places to Spend on Paid Search Other Than AdWords

by Neil Patel

Last updated on July 25th, 2017

It seems like pay-per-click (PPC) is a strategy that’s sometimes overshadowed by organic SEO for the simple fact that it tends to yield smaller profit margins.

Here’s my advice: Don’t neglect any channel that delivers any profit margins.

While it’s true that you’re probably not going to see the same ROI with paid search as you would with SEO, paid search still has plenty of potential.

In fact, “businesses generally make an average of $2 in income for every $1 they spend in AdWords.” Not too shabby.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge fan of organic traffic, content marketing, and SEO. I kind of made that my big deal for most of my career.

But here’s the thing. When you need to get sales, and do it quickly, paid search is going to pave the way.

It’s a lot quicker and less meticulous than building an SEO campaign from scratch.

Another reason why I like paid search is because “PPC visitors are 50 percent more likely to purchase something than those that go through the organic search results.”

But one trap that many digital marketers fall into is assuming that the only option they have is Google AdWords.

Boy, are you going to be surprised.

Don’t get me wrong, AdWords is great, and a well-run campaign can result in a sizable ROI.

The main issue is that it’s become so incredibly saturated with competition that it’s getting harder and harder to thrive.

This graph offers a breakdown of what the average cost per click (CPC) was on Google AdWords between 2013 and 2015.

metric 13 14 15

As you can see, the CPC has increased significantly on AdWords.

If you choose to only use this platform, it can really cut into your profit margins.

That’s why I would like to talk about some other effective paid search platforms where you can get legitimate results and see a solid ROI.

1. Bing Ads

According to Quora, “Microsoft sites (mostly Bing) receive 122.8 million searches per day.”

While this may only sound like a drop in a bucket compared with Google, there are opportunities abound with Bing.

Like AdWords, you have complete control over how much money you funnel into your campaign and can make adjustments on the fly.

You can advertise on the global or local level — wherever your audience is at.

I also really like Bing Ads because you’re usually going to spend less than you would on AdWords.

average cpc industry

The customer support is really good as well, and you don’t have to deal with those irritating automated replies for your inquiries.

2. Chitika

This is an advertising platform that I first heard about roughly five years ago and seems to have caught on, especially with PPC marketers who are on a tight budget.

In fact, Chitika states, “we are purposely priced to fit into the budget of any typical small business.”

If you’re looking to get your feet wet with paid search and want a user-friendly platform, I would recommend giving Chitika a try.

It’s ideal if you want to primarily focus your efforts on local and mobile search.

The only caveat is that it’s only available in the U.S.


According to their site, “ offers tailored digital advertising solutions to increase your conversions, develop brand awareness and build your targeted traffic.”

This is a globalized platform, so you can reach your audience on the other side of the planet just as easily as you could right down the street.

Some specific advertising solutions that are offered include contextual, display and remarketing, which utilizes retargeting by re-engaging previous visitors.

This combination makes a viable solution for practically any business.

Also, who wouldn’t want to do business with such a fun group of people? 🙂

4. ADsmonster

This is an online advertising agency that specializes in PPC and CPA (cost-per-acquisition).

The premise is largely similar to AdWords, but it tends to be significantly cheaper.

Campaigns begin at $50, and you can maintain control by utilizing real-time statistics and full-featured tracking.

Like most platforms, you only pay for when you actually receive a lead, so there’s minimal risk involved.

5. BuySellAds

BuySellAds prides itself on simplifying the advertising process and bridging the gap between publishers and advertisers.

It works by browsing the marketplace for an “ad zone,” buying a digital property and then setting up your ad.

This platform allows for advanced targeting and segmentation, so you ensure that you’re reaching the right demographic. You can also monitor your campaign in real-time and perform split testing.

If you’re looking for a highly streamlined experience, I would recommend checking out BuySellAds.

This video explains how BuySellAds works in a nice, cheery British accent 🙂

6. 7search

Believe it or not, 7search has been around since 1999 making it one of the oldest online advertising companies around.

They’ve even worked with notable companies like eHarmony, Netflix and Progressive.

Some specific campaigns you can run include PPC, display and mobile advertising.

By all accounts, you can drive traffic to your site for fairly cheap.

Although it’s not likely to be as high-quality of traffic as say AdWords or Bing Ads, there’s definitely potential to make conversions without breaking the bank.

7. AdRoll

This is a platform that specializes in retargeting, which makes it perfect if this is one of your primary strategies.

If you haven’t experimented with retargeting, you’ll probably want to, considering that it can be incredibly effective for marketing conversions.

retarget ads

I like AdRoll because they partner with over 500 ad exchanges, so your ads can be featured on a plethora of devices, browsers, apps and sites.

This way your ads are more likely to reach your audience when they’re ready to buy.

You can also monitor the performance of your ads and generate data for smarter future decision making.

8. eZanga

If you’re working with a really tight marketing budget, you should definitely check out eZanga because their main point of emphasis is the low CPC of their platform.

Here’s what I’m talking about.

average cpc

Some specific areas of optimization you can focus on include:

  • Geotargeting
  • Time targeting
  • Campaign pacing
  • User agent targeting

They can also provide you with a dedicated account manager to ensure that your campaign goes off without a hitch.

9. Clicksor

This is another platform that’s been around for awhile (12 years) and specializes in contextual advertising.

Standard accounts require a minimum of $50 to set up a campaign, and ads will be featured on sites within Clicksor’s network.

There’s plenty of room for customization here, and Clicksor makes use of retargeting, geotargeting and operating system targeting to get your ads in front of the right audience.

10. Bidvertiser

Here is yet another PPC-based system that relies on the same general premise as Google AdWords.

You can set the maximum price you’re willing to bid and choose your target audience based geography, interests and other factors.

One cool thing about Bidvertiser is that it will “automatically optimize your cost-per-click bids closest to your nearest competitor, so you get the best price available for your traffic.”

It’s pretty much a no frills platform but worth exploring if you’re looking to go outside of AdWords.

11. TLV Media

According to the company, they receive more than 20 billion impressions per month on their network.

TLV Media’s primary focus is on retargeting and mobile advertising, which is great considering that “mobile devices account for 52% of paid search clicks.”

They also pride themselves on making the process as transparent as possible, so you know exactly where your ads will appear and what the performance of your campaign is like.

12. Criteo

This is a platform that has gained attention from Forbes and Business Insider and is geared around using predictive technology to get your ads in front of consumers who are most likely to buy.

By all accounts, Criteo seems to get legitimate results for its clients and has a 90 percent client retention rate.

They place an emphasis on being data-centric and continually learning to become more efficient and profitable.

13. Matomy Media Group

The selling point of this advertising system is to reach consumers in a variety of different ways including search, social, display and mobile just to name a few.

Matomy Media Group recognizes that the specific approach of an advertising campaign is largely contingent upon the industry.

That’s why they specialize in numerous verticals to ensure that you can reach your audience in the most effective way possible.

14. Leadbolt

Leadbolt is specifically based around mobile paid search and aims to help you reach your audience with maximum efficiency.

They have an extensive network of over 65,000 premium apps and can reach users all over the world.

If you think that your audience can best be reached through mobile, I would definitely recommend checking out Leadbolt.

15. SiteScout

The main point of emphasis for SiteScout is its real-time bidding so that you can get the best possible price.

Unlike many other platforms, you only pay for impressions, so it’s ideal if you have an existing understanding of the paid search process.

While SiteScout may not be ideal for newbies, it’s definitely got potential, and there’s the opportunity to run a lucrative campaign.

16. Affinity

The focus here is to utilize innovative ad placement on both desktop and mobile to generate significant exposure and bring in high-quality leads that are ready to buy.

Affinity works with numerous publishers and takes measures to reduce wasteful ad spending and boost your ROI.

17. Kontextua

This platform has several different advertising options including in-text ads, in-image ads, search engine and Facebook advertising.

Although their headquarters are in Argentina and cater largely to a Spanish audience, they also have a branch in Miami and an English version of the platform.

If you’re trying to reach Spanish speakers, Kontextua is definitely one of your best-paid search options.


As you can see, there are plenty of different options for paid search, and there’s no reason to pigeonhole yourself.

With a bit of experimentation, you can find the perfect platform or combination of platforms to accelerate your digital campaign and get the results you’re looking for. In time, you should be able to steadily raise your ROI for maximum profitability.

Do you have any other paid search platforms that you would recommend?



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Neil Patel

Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Hello Bar. He helps companies like Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom grow their revenue.


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  1. Williams says:
    September 22, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Very nice Tips.Do you offer any help with Individual ads. Some days I want to turn the ads off.

  2. sean juan says:
    September 22, 2016 at 7:39 am

    Wow that’s a great list considering I’ve only tried BING and Adwords. I assume all the others are display network?

    Would you consider any of the platforms better for certain industries? My marketing clients are mostly in the professional services industry. (limos, djs, photographers, videographers)

    Many ppl are more interested in faster results, esp for time sensitive services, so paid search is becoming more requested.

    • Sean Work says:
      September 29, 2016 at 2:37 pm

      I think it’s one of those things where you just have to experiment with them and carefully measure their results. I think the good news is you’ll effectively get lower CPCs than Adwords, but you might not hit the volume. Don’t forget services like Outbrain too!

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