Modern marketers looking to promote their business will find a lot of choices of PPC networks. Google remains the King of the pay-per-click (PPC) advertising world, and the Google Ads and Adsense platforms dominate the industry.
But what are the other top PPC ad platforms? What can they offer, and how might professional marketers benefit by considering them for their ad strategies?
As of 2022, the pay-per-click (PPC) industry is worth over $144 billion annually and is forecast to grow to over $190 billion beyond 2024. Even Covid-19 was unable to put a damper on the stampeding rise of search advertising. That’s because the PPC ad platforms still offer an unbeatable reach for every business, large or small.
If you’re weighing up your options, this list of the best PPC ad networks, including Google Ads alternatives, will help you make sense of your choices.
We’ll take a look at everyone, from the giants of Google and Microsoft to some of the smaller players. You might just find your ideal Google Ads alternative right here…
What exactly is a PPC network?
Originally, pay-per-click ads would be text results on search engine result pages, i.e., Google or Yahoo. Nowadays, the paid SERPs are just a tiny slice of the available options.
Many of these PPC platforms offer the opportunity to display your ad on one of their partner websites or syndicated search result pages. These ads can be in the form of:
- Text-based search engine results (SERPs)
- Display banner ads
- Embedded video
- Video ad within a video (for example, on YouTube)
- Native advertising content (sponsored content)
- In-app advertising
- Pop-up ads in a website or app
Some of the pay-per-click platforms, such as Google, offer pretty much all of these advertising options. Others target specific niches, such as in-app advertising or sponsored content only.
Although they’re called pay-per-click networks, this can be a bit of a misnomer.
The most common PPC bidding options are:
- Pay per click (in the form of cost per click, or CPC)
- Pay per thousand impressions (cost per mile, or CPM)
- Pay per conversion/acquisition (cost per acquisition, or CPA)
That’s actually just the tip of the iceberg, with the big ad platforms, including Google and Facebook, offering an even more diverse selection of bidding strategies.
The list of best PPC ad networks
So now you know what a PPC ad network is, it’s time to find out which is best for your ad strategy. The benefits of using a Google Ads alternative can include less competition, lower cost per click, and the chance to target specific or niche demographics.
So, this list isn’t an exhaustive list of the best PPC ad networks, but it explains the variety of options and what each platform can offer.
We’ll start with the big guns…
You already know that Google is the biggest of the PPC advertising networks, with over 73% of the market share globally.
Let’s put some numbers on that, so you can get an idea of how that translates in real terms:
- 105,000 searches every second as of 2023
- 8.5 billion searches every day
- 2 trillion global searches per year
Put simply, it is the most used search engine and is the best way to reach most internet users globally. Maybe with the exception of China, which puts limitations on the services of Google in the People’s Republic.
The benefits of this are whoever you’re targeting probably uses Google, so it’s a great platform, whatever your industry.
However, that means that your competitors are probably using it, too, so the CPC can be incredibly expensive on competitive keywords.
As well as being the biggest PPC ad network, Google also offers an excellent selection of free tools, such as Google Analytics and Keyword Planner, to help you get the best out of your marketing efforts.
Google’s Display Network is also industry-leading, with display PPC ads available on sites like YouTube, Blogger, and some of the most visited websites in the world.
Benefits of using Google Ads:
- The biggest global reach by far
- Variety of bidding strategies
- A huge suite of tools to optimize your PPC ad campaign
- The Display Network has an unbeatable selection of websites
- Detailed analytics and reporting
- Range of targeting customization options
Being second isn’t necessarily a bad thing. We looked in depth at Bing Ads recently, which is now known as Microsoft Advertising. There are plenty of benefits to using the second biggest PPC platform.
If you’re looking for a Google Ads alternative that offers cheaper CPC and still has a great reach, then Microsoft Ads could be very tempting. Like Google, Microsoft Ads offers paid search engine results and a selection of popular sites to display your banner, video, or content ads.
Although the selection of partner websites for display advertising isn’t quite as huge as Google, being able to advertise on MSN, Yahoo!, and AOL definitely has its perks.
Another selling point of Microsoft’s PPC ad network is that users tend to be from high-earning backgrounds.
Some stats for the Microsoft Ads (Bing Ads) PPC network:
- 5.4 billion searches a month across the platform
- 36% market share in the USA
- 20% market share in the UK
- One-third of the global market share
When you look at it like that, it looks pretty tempting, right?
Benefits of using Microsoft Ads:
- Relatively cheap CPC for a PPC ad network
- A third of the global search market share
- High-end demographic, especially in the USA
- Less competition for popular keywords and searches
- Choice of sponsored SERPs and display ads
- Well suited to B2B ad campaigns
- Automated bidding strategies and last-touch attribution
- Cross-channel exposure of your ads with Microsoft-Roku collaboration
In third place, Facebook Ads offers a very different but still appealing ad network package. While Google and Microsoft Ads are both based on search, Facebook Ads focus instead on demographic targeting.
This means a user doesn’t have to actively search to activate your ad. Instead, you can get your ad seen on two of the biggest social media feeds.
Ads can also show on Facebook Messenger and on the Facebook Audience Network. This is mostly focused on ads within apps. So if your business is apps or the kind of thing that targets the users of apps, you could be looking at a good option here.
But it’s that option to advertise on Instagram or Facebook’s feed that is really powerful.
Facebook’s algorithms give you the opportunity to really target specific demographics and interests. And, as you’re not actually showing in search results, your paid ads appear more like native content.
One thing to bear in mind is that Facebook Ads, and ads on the FB network, will need to be quite visual. No text, only search results here. Shareable, well-framed, catchy, clickable content is what Facebook is all about.
The average CPC for Facebook Ads tends to be lower than Google and Bing, with around $1.72 being the average.
Benefits of using Facebook Ads:
- Excellent for specific demographic targeting
- Native content ads can be very effective
- Visual content does best on Facebook Ads, especially with Instagram
- No need to bid on keywords; your ad will show to a target demographic whether they search or not
- Some good options for app developers
- Relatively cheap CPC ad network
Known as ‘Facebook for professionals’, Linkedin has been steadily growing in popularity as one of the top PPC platforms. The reason is you’re able to reach a business-savvy and well-educated marketplace, often with strong purchasing power and intent.
Like Facebook, you can also target specific demographics. Although in this instance, they’re professionals, such as marketing experts, C-level executives, and business owners. If you’re a B2B service, you probably have already considered Linkedin Ads.
Like all the entries on this best ad networks list so far, there is a selection of ways your Linkedin Ads can appear:
- Sponsored posts (in the feed)
- InMail (direct mailings to specific target customers)
- Text ads
- Dynamic ads
- Display partner network
So what is the average CPC with Linkedin Ads?
Well, actually, Linkedin requires a minimum bid of $2 for CPC and CPM ads.
Interestingly they also offer a Cost per Send option for those InMails, with a flat rate for each mail sent and received. This can be as low as $0.10c per send or thereabouts.
But, when it comes to the quality of audience, for B2B marketers, at least, Linkedin is hard to beat.
Benefits of using LinkedIn Ads:
- Excellent access to an audience of active professionals
- Option for native ads (sponsored content)
- InMail offers an excellent way for some direct marketing
- Narrowed targeting across specific verticals (Industry, Job title, Company size, etc.)
- Lead generation forms to easily manage your leads
The first of the dedicated native advertising platforms on our list, you’ve probably spotted Taboola on your favorite news site. What they specialize in is sponsored content which fits neatly into whatever list of news articles or content their partner sites display.
It’s like Google Adsense and the Display Network but for a carefully curated list of websites.
How does this work for marketers?
If you want your brand to appear on huge sites like Business Insider, CNBC, or NBC News, then using Taboola is an affordable and effective solution.
You’ll need to create content that is engaging and designed to convert (without being spammy, of course). Yes, this does mean making a blog post or news article about your product or service.
Your pay-per-click (PPC) options are either CPM or CPC.
The average CPC for Taboola is normally just a few cents, making it one of the cheapest options for PPC ad networks.
Another thing that sets Taboola apart from Google’s Display Network/Adsense is that sites on Taboola’s network have to be high quality. This means all the websites on Taboola’s network have more than 1 million visitors a month, whereas Google Adsense sites can have pretty much any amount of traffic.
Benefits of using Taboola:
- Made for content marketing
- Low CPC compared to other ad networks
- High-quality sites with high-traffic volumes
- Useful for retargeting previous campaign clickers
- Ability to stop your campaign from appearing on specific sites or topics
- Ad descriptions that support all languages
Outbrain is another content recommendation platform, very similar to Taboola. They’re both content marketing focused, with a selection of quality websites.
With Outbrain, you’ll be popping up on sites like CNN, The Washington Post, WSJ, The Guardian, and MSN.
The average CPC on Outbrain is lower too, with reports suggesting $0.10c as opposed to nearer $0.45 on Taboola.
Benefits of using Outbrain:
- Excellent selection of over 100,000 publisher sites
- Lower CPC than Taboola
- Dynamic retargeting
- Extra user-friendly, easy to navigate, and set up your campaign
This is another content recommendation ad platform similar to Taboola and Outbrain. Although RevContent doesn’t have the choice of high-end sites, it does have a good reach with US audiences.
By their own tagline, they’re the fastest-growing native advertising network in the world. So if you’re looking for a platform with the potential to grow and with much less competition, RevContent might be a wise decision.
For a PPC ad network with a relatively small reach, you’d expect the average CPC to be quite low. However, reports suggest that RevContent’s cost per click is around the same as Taboola’s, at around $0.44c per click.
Benefits of using RevContent:
- The world’s fastest-growing native PPC ad network…
- Not much competition
- Thousands of partner websites for you to show your content on
Another social media platform offering itself as a PPC ad network? Well, yes, but Reddit is another useful niche advertising platform to have in your armory.
What exactly is Reddit? Well, it’s the world’s biggest social forum, and if you’re not up to speed, then maybe you should take a look.
There are currently above 430 million monthly active users, with visitors coming for everything from sharing memes to researching business opportunities. Yes, really, there is lots of B2B and B2C potential on this network.
Your ad will be in the form of a Reddit post with a ‘promoted post’ in the bottom right-hand corner. This means your ad will usually be visible at the top of a subreddit page or pop up in the feed like a native advertising post.
Prices for advertising on Reddit are reasonable, with prices starting at $1.50 for CPM.
The main benefit of adding Reddit Ads to your list of PPC sites is that you can target by community, interest, and location – among other options.
Benefits of using Reddit Ads:
- Relatively inexpensive
- Good targeting options
- Access to a highly passionate and engaged group of users about a specific topic
- Still quite unsaturated as an ad network
- Ability to tailor your ads to speak to the different communities
One of the biggest retargeting ad networks, AdRoll is a powerful tool to drive return visits or convert interested visitors to paying customers.
The way AdRoll works is by using AI to understand visitor behavior. It aggregates your marketing strategy across multiple channels to drive engagement on social media, email, or from your own e-commerce site.
AdRolls’s secret weapon is BidiQ, which analyses user data across web and social media platforms to retarget ads at the best price. You can also use AdRoll to target customers with emails customized for them, which is often held up as a key strategy to convert.
Advertisers can also harness the power of dynamic ads, which are those ads that pop up with a relevant product after you’ve been looking for something similar. Although some people find these a bit freaky, they’re proven to be quite effective.
If you’re looking for a way to unify your retargeting strategy and you’re wondering if there is another way (besides Google Ads), then AdRoll is a very solid choice.
Benefits of using AdRoll:
- Dedicated retargeting platform with very effective AI
- Unifies retargeting across websites, social media your own site
- Finds the best deal on retargeting ads
Another choice for retargeting ad networks, RTB House is the smaller upstart offering its own brand of AI tools.
RTB House actually has access to more websites for that retargeting potential, but other than that, it’s very similar to the bigger and more established AdRoll.
As the name suggests, RTB House offers real-time bidding on a broad selection of PPC ad networks, all from within their own platform.
Price-wise, RTB House is quote based only, so you’ll need to contact them to discuss your retargeting ad requirements.
Benefits of using RTB House:
- Big selection of websites for ad retargeting
- Similar to AdRoll
- Better campaign understanding with Deep Learning technologies
- Personalized campaigns for better engagement
Back to the social media giants, Twitter Ads (or X Ads as of recently) is a useful PPC ad tool for business owners.
The choices for X Ads are:
- Promoted Ads
- Follower Ads
- Twitter Amplify
- Twitter Takeover
- Twitter Live
Most of these speak for themselves. There is another option too, which is the Promote Mode, an automated ad bidding option that allows you to tweet and carry on as normal. X will then promote your tweets, bumping them up to around 30,000 additional people.
For a flat rate of US$99 per month, this can be quite an effective PPC method.
Like all social media networks, the benefits of using X PPC ads allow you to target by interest, demographic and geographic location.
For best results, use visual content or harness the power of Twitter’s micro-blogging style.
Benefits of using X Ads:
- X is one of the cheapest social media ad networks
- Powerful demographic targeting
- It can be useful for both B2B and B2C
- Place your brand at the top of what’s trending
Here’s a stat for you. 50% of American millennial men use Twitch. Got your attention? Yes, Twitch has the potential to be a very powerful ad network.
If you’re not up to speed, Twitch is a live streaming platform that was built on live gaming. These days, you’ll find musicians, bloggers, and more all live streaming on this rapidly growing platform.
Ads on Twitch can appear as:
- Sponsored posts next to live streams
- Embedded video on the home page or on category pages
- Text and image box on the side
- Text and image header
You can also choose to sponsor events (such as tournaments or leagues) or use Twitch SureSteam. Both options offer great visibility and work around things like ad blockers, guaranteeing your ad is seen.
At any one time, there are around 1 million people watching Twitch, and this just keeps on growing. As Twitch states on its site, this is more than CNN or MSNBC’s daily viewers…. So, this is actually a PPC network to pay attention to for the future.
In terms of demographics, 81% of Twitch viewers are men, and these are overwhelmingly in the 18-34-year-old age bracket. Most Twitch viewers are tech-savvy and trust influencers and YouTube stars more than they trust traditional broadcast channels.
One of the strengths of Twitch is that you can choose to have your ads appear in the streams of specific live streamers. It’s more affordable than influencer marketing and a bit more targeted than traditional PPC ad networks.
Truthfully, this is a channel that has been recognized for its powerful potential and is now used regularly by some brands.
Benefits of using Twitch Ads:
- Target a young, tech-savvy, and mostly male demographic
- Offers potential for influencer partnership style advertising for a fraction of the cost
- Some interesting PPC ad options
- Something for everyone with regards to advertising, with high-end sponsorship options or more affordable display ads
Another native advertising content platform, AdNow, offers access to over 160,000 publishers. Offering real-time bidding through AdNow gives advertisers the option to display native content ads or display banner ads.
Being able to run both banner and native ads from the same publisher can be very useful. Publishers using AdNow are often the types not seen on Taboola, Outbrain, or RevContent, the reason being that AdNow is less strict about the publishers they accept.
That doesn’t necessarily mean low-quality sites, but it does mean a reach that those ad platforms don’t offer.
A selling point for advertisers is the low cost per click, with around 3 to 6 cents for a click and CPM being anything up to around $2.
Benefits of using AdNow:
- Native content and banner ads
- Websites not seen on some of the bigger native content ad sites
- Quite cheap CPM and CPC for a PPC network
The amount of users using ad blockers has grown in recent years, with options for browser extensions to block ads. But this clever PPC ad network offers the potential to get around ad blockers with full permission-enabled and non-intrusive ads.
Data shows that the demographic most likely to use ad blockers is millennials, so using AdRecover offers the potential to get your ad seen by this high-value audience.
AdRecover claims that all ads are non-intrusive, and many of them show ‘above the fold’ with no slow down in loading speed.
This is done with static or text-based ads, so no video or banner ads here.
There is no data online about the average cost of using AdRecover for advertisers, but they suggest that to use AdRecover, your monthly media spend should be $10,000. It might be that this isn’t the best solution for SMEs, but for established and growing businesses, it could be a useful way to target millennials.
Benefits of using AdRecover:
- Get your ads seen by users who use ad blockers, who are usually millennials
- Non-intrusive ads only
- Their own data suggests high CTR and conversion rates
Since 2016, when Amazon first launched Amazon Marketing Services (AMS), now known as simply Amazon Ads, its popularity as one of the best PPC networks has never stopped growing.
With a massive e-commerce market share of over 50%, it’s an especially attractive option for e-commerce brands.
If you don’t have an Amazon Store, you can still create Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands ads using the Amazon Advertising console. You can also use Amazon Attribution to track the performance of your ads across Amazon and other channels.
Benefits of using Amazon Ads:
- Potential to reach over 200 million active Prime members
- Target your ads to specific audiences based on their interests, demographics, and purchase behavior.
- A variety of ad formats, including Sponsored Products, Sponsored Brands, Display Ads, and Video Ads
- It’s easier for customers to discover and consider your products when they are most likely to be interested in buying
Pinterest is a visual social platform that people use daily as a source of inspiration and collecting ideas. As such, it offers great opportunities for brands to establish awareness for their brand, products, and services, especially in this initial discovery stage.
The highly visual nature of the platform will also help you easily grab the attention of the users. With appealing content and brand visuals, you can put your brand at the top of the users’ minds when they think of the particular area they were discovering on Pinterest.
- High engagement possibilities. Pinterest users spend an average of 15 minutes per session.
- Increased purchase opportunities with integrated shopping features that enable users to make purchases directly.
- Easy for potential customers to transition into purchase.
Choosing the best PPC ad network for your ad strategy
As we’ve seen, there is a lot of choice of ad networks for advertisers, and choosing the best one isn’t so straightforward. The best and safest choice by far, is the all-rounder Google Ads, offering the biggest search engine for ads and the display network with the biggest choice.
However, if you’re looking for an affordable PPC platform to target a specific demographic or a PPC ad channel with less competition, this list might have helped you come up with some ideas.
For example, if you’re targeting business professionals, Linkedin Ads might be your best choice. Or if you’re thinking of using native content PPC ads, hopefully, one of our recommendations could be your solution.
Remember that click fraud impacts every paid ad network and campaign. To protect your Google, Facebook, and Bing Ads, get started with ClickCease.
ClickCease filters out invalid traffic, such as bots, malware clicks, and malicious clickers, using our industry-leading software. See how we can protect PPC ad campaigns with a free trial and make sure those pesky bots and fraudsters are blocked…!