The factors that will influence your decision include your advertising budget, your goals, and your customer base
Choosing the right pay-per-click (PPC) platforms for your business can be quite a decision with so many platforms that offer different features and possibilities.
But you don’t want to simply dish out your ad budget on the first PPC platform you come across.
Your choice ultimately depends on your specific goals, your advertising budget and your customer base.
In this article, we review the top PPC platforms and how they work to help you make an informed decision about your brand.
We’ll cover the following PPC platforms:
- Google Ads
- Microsoft Ads
- Taboola & Outbrain
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What Are PPC Platforms?
PPC platforms are digital advertising platforms where you can promote your business. In the PPC model, a platform displays your ad and you pay a fee every time someone clicks on it. These platforms are also sometimes referred to as PPC websites, pay-per-click sites, PPC channels or PPC networks.
How Do PPC Platforms Work?
Pay-per-click platforms typically use an auction system. In this model, businesses compete for ad space on different platforms by bidding on keywords. This means you set a maximum amount of money you are willing to pay if someone clicks on your ad.
The higher the search volume for keywords, the higher the price.
When a user searches for a keyword that you have bid on, a PPC platform runs an auction to evaluate which ad is most eligible to appear at the top of the results.
Choosing a PPC bidding strategy is a necessary step in running a pay-per-click campaign. There are multiple bidding strategies you can choose from based on the specific goals you’re looking to achieve with your PPC campaign.
Most common PPC bidding models include:
- Cost per click (CPC): You pay for each click on your ad
- Cost per acquisition: You pay for every acquisition (new leads or customers)
- Maximum clicks: You pay to get as many clicks as possible for a set price
- Cost per mille: You pay a fee for one thousand impressions
- Target impression share: You pay to position your ad on the page/ how you want your ad to be seen
Keep in mind that not all PPC websites or platforms offer the same bidding strategy options.
Bidding strategies on PPC platforms can be automated or manual. Automated means you don’t have to manually update bids for certain keywords or keyword groups. Again, the choice depends on the number of campaigns you’re running and your goals.
PPC platforms allow you to target your audience based on their demographic, geographic location, interests, gender, parental status and profile information, depending on which pay-per-click site you’re using for your PPC campaign.
For example, Google allows you to set where your ad will be displayed based on your ideal audience, such as their age group or hobbies.
PPC platforms allow you to optimize your ads in the campaign setup phase. This means you can decide who should see your ads, where they will be displayed,, choose target keywords and set ad groups.
When you set up your PPC campaign on one of these platforms, you can track PPC ad results to see how well you’re performing. You can check impressions, click-through rate, cost per click, conversion rate, etc., depending on your PPC key performance indicators (KPIs).
KPIs for a PPC campaign might include:
- Click-through rate
- Conversion rate
- Quality Score
- Average cost per click
Most Popular PPC Platforms
If you search for a PPC network, you will come across multiple platforms to choose from. Here are out top 12 picks:
1. Google Ads
Google’s pay-per-click platform is by far the most popular PPC platform. This is not surprising given that Google processes over 3.5 billion searches daily.
Google supports search ads and display ads (AdSense). Search ads or Google Ads appear in search results when users start looking for a product or service.
Display ads are displayed on websites while users are visiting them. Since Google works with millions of websites through the Google Display Network, this is a great way to get more exposure.
This allows you to reach your target audiences wherever they are.
- Reach: 92% global market share; 40,000 search queries every second
- Ad format: Google supports text ads, responsive display ads, image ads and video ads.
- Pricing: Depends on your budget. Google’s CPC is based on ad quality and relevance as well as keyword search volume and competition. The average CPC for search ads is $1 to $2, while more expensive ads can run up to $50 per click.
2. Microsoft Ads
The number of monthly PC searches on Microsoft Search Network surpasses 14 million. One of the advantages of Microsoft Ads (previously Bing Ads) is that you can import your Google Ads campaigns to get started easily.
Microsoft and Ads and Google Ads function in a very similar way. Advertisers bid on keywords and whoever wins the auction gets their ad displayed. However, the competition is less fierce on Microsoft, thanks to a smaller audience.
- Reach: 14.4% PC market share; over 14 million monthly searches
- Ad format: Microsoft supports image, animation, audio and video ads.
- Pricing: Pricing is determined by demand for Microsoft Ads. The average CPC is from $1 to $1.50.
Given it’s almost 3 billion user base, Facebook is a great PPC platform. It allows you to target granular audiences based on demographics, interests, user behavior and other key factors. It also lets you retarget ads based on user activity.
Facebook's ad platform operates on an auction basis, so you can set a budget and bid on keywords.
- Reach: 2.93 billion users; 1.92 billion active daily users
- Ad format: Facebook supports image ads, video, carousel (up to 10 images or videos in one ad), instant experience (full-screen ads that open up when someone taps on your ad), and collection ads (multiple products in one ad).
- Pricing: Pricing depends on the bidding model, your industry and competition. The average cost per click is between $0.50 and $2.
With over 1 billion active users, Instagram’s audience tends to be younger, so it’s a good way to target the younger population. Since Instagram is owned by Meta, pay-per-click ads are run through Facebook.
- Reach: 1 billion users
- Ad format:Instagram supports image ads, videos, reels, stories, and image shop ads (ads must be in a carousel of collection form).
- Pricing: Pricing depends on the bidding model and ranges from $0.20 to $6.
Owned by Microsoft, LinkedIn has about $830 million users and what differentiates it from other PPC platforms is that it lets you target a unique audience. You can target professionals based on career information such as company, job title and more.
LinkedIn Ads also function as auctions, so you only pay if someone clicks on your ad.
- Reach: 830 million users
- Ad format: LinkedIn supports single image ads (sponsored ads), text ads, video ads, carousel ads and event ads.
- Pricing: Pricing depends on campaign objective and ad relevance, but there is a minimum of $2 for CPC.
As one of the most popular social media networks, Twitter is very effective as a PPC platform. Twitter hasn’t partnered with any other networks so your ads are only displayed on Twitter, which includes both the website and the app.
- Reach: 330 million users
- Adformat: Twitter supports image ads, video ads, text ads, carousel ads and moments ads. They also have five categories, including Promoted Ads, Follower Ads, Twitter Amplify, Twitter Takeover and Twitter Live. Each of the categories is designed to suit different goals. For example, Follower Ads are great for promoting your account to get more visibility, Promoted Ads support various ad formats including image, text and video, while Twitter Amplify lets you align your ads with premium video content with premium publishers.
- Pricing: Depends on the pricing model; the cost for a promoted tweet can range from $0.50 to $2.
YouTube is a great place for your PPC campaign. You can start your campaign through Google Ads and manage it from there, but you can also access YouTube Analytics to monitor your ad performance.
With YouTube Ads, you only pay when someone chooses to see at least 30 seconds of your video ad or clicks on your ad.
- Reach: 2.6 billion active users
- Ad format: YouTube supports video ads, which include skippable and non-skippable video ads from 5 to 20 seconds in length, as well as overlay image or text ads.
- Pricing: On average, it costs from $0.10 to $0.30 per ad view.
AdRoll is a platform built specifically to allow eCommerce businesses to display ads. If you are selling a product, this is a good place to start your PPC campaign. AdRoll uses Artificial Intelligence to optimize campaigns and analyze your customer data such as purchase history and product pages viewed.
AdRoll partnered with hundreds of networks such as Facebook, Yahoo and eBay so it’s a great place to get exposure for your brand.
- Reach: Access to 1-2 billion digital shopper profiles.
- Ad format: AdRoll supports static ads, which include native ads, video ads and rich-media ads), as well as and dynamic ads, where images are pulled from your product feed.
- Pricing: 3 pricing options for monthly packages —$12/month, $25/month and a free starter plan.
Bidvertiser is a direct advertising platform for pay-per-click campaigns. You can create campaigns to be featured on their partner websites. Bidvertiser prides itself on being a self-serve platform, finding the perfect match between advertisers and publishers.
- Reach: Over 78,500 partner websites.
- Ad format: Bidvertiser supports Native Ads, which can feature text and/or image, Direct Ads, Pop Under Ads and push notifications.
- Pricing: The minimum bid for an ad is $0.05 while the minimum daily budget is $5.
RevContent is a native advertising platform, meaning the ads are designed to match the content of the platform they appear on. For example, if your ad is to appear on a news website, it will appear as a sponsored article to match the platform’s content and style.
The platform was founded in 2013 and it’s now valued at more than $40 billion.
- Reach: Reaches about 97% of households in the United States, according to Quantcast.
- Ad format: Supports sponsored content ads and video ads.
- Pricing: RevContent shares pricing info on request, but according to reports, the average cost per mille (CPM) is about $0.44.
With millions of users who are looking for inspiration and products, Pinterest is a good platform for a PPC campaign, whether you want to boost brand awareness or increase conversions.
Their website states that 83% of pinners from the U.S. make a purchase based on pins from brands.
- Reach: 400 million monthly users
- Ad format: Pinterest supports Static pins and ads (single-image ads), video pins and ads, Carousel pins and ads, Collection pins and ads, Shopping ads and Idea ads.
- Pricing: You can set a budget for each day. The average cost per 1,000 impressions ranges between $2 and $5.
12. Taboola & Outbrain
These two advertising platforms, Taboola and Outbrain, decided to merge in 2019, so they’re now one and the same. With Taboola and Outbrain, you get to display your ads on some of the most visited websites around the world, such as CNN and The Guardian.
- Reach: Taboola is estimated to reach about 1.4 billion people per month and Outbrain reaches about 1.2 billion people per month.
- Ad format: Native ads, including video and content.
- Pricing: Pricing for Outbrain is quote-based while for Taboola, pricing starts at $10.
How To Choose a PPC Channel
Given the number of options available, choosing the right platforms requires weighing the pros and cons of each for your specific needs.
Before you start your PPC campaign, compile a list of questions that will help you narrow down the search:
Where is your customer base? Which social media platforms do they prefer: Instagram, Facebook or Twitter? Are your target audience professionals (LinkedIn)? Does your audience use mostly Google or Microsoft Bing for searches?
What features does the platform offer? What kind of ads can you run there? Do you have multiple options, such as text, image, native ads?
Does the price match the features of the platform? What platform is the most affordable if you have a tight advertising budget? Which bidding model suits you best?
What type of PPC reporting does a platform offer? Which KPIs can you track to determine the success of your campaign?
Answering these questions will give you an idea of the features and functionalities you need in a PPC platform, so you can narrow down your list.
PPC Platforms: Key Takeaways
We have covered the most popular pay-per-click platforms available with key elements like pricing, reach and ad format — now you’re ready to choose a platform for your campaign!
To choose your advertising platform, consider:
- Your target market
- Your specific goals
- Your advertising budget
- Bidding model
Once you choose a platform, it’s time to start your campaign and experience the benefits of PPC. Good luck with your pay-per-click campaign!