Is Paid Traffic Worth the Money?

Christy Walters


March 2, 2023 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

paper money from a variety of countries to represent is paid traffic worth the money

Paid traffic is any web visit you get from audience members clicking on a paid media link that leads to your site. This traffic can come from search engines, social media, guest posts, and other sources. But why would you spend money on clicks you could get for free? Today, we’re answering the question “is paid traffic worth the money?” and determining if you should put part of your marketing budget towards it:

What Are You Paying for With Paid Traffic?

To understand if trying to earn paid traffic is worth it, you have to understand what you’re actually paying for when you run a paid marketing campaign. What you pay depends on the service model the ad provider uses. There are four common models, including:

  • Cost per thousand impressions (CPM): With CPM you pay for the number of views your ad content gets, typically by the thousand. It doesn’t matter if these people engage with your ad or make a conversion.
  • Pay per click (PPC) or Cost per click (CPC): In this model, you pay for every click your ad receives from the host source. It doesn’t matter if the click leads to a conversion or not.
  • Pay per acquisition (PPA): This model requires you to pay for every click on your ad or content that leads to a conversion. You set the conversion with your ad provider, such as subscribing to an email list or making a purchase.
  • Flat rate: In this model, you pay to list your ad campaign on another service or site. It doesn’t matter how many views, clicks, or conversions you get because the price of placement doesn’t change.

One of these paid marketing models may sound more beneficial to you than another. Deciding whether or not earning paid traffic is worth the money depends on what you’re getting back. Review your marketing and content goals. What are you trying to achieve?  If you’re trying to increase your brand awareness, then paying for a CPM or PPC campaign could be worth the money. When trying to make more sales, you could engage in a PPA campaign.

If none of these models align with any of your goals then it might not be the time to try to attract paid traffic to your brand.

How Does Earning Paid Traffic Help Your Business?

If earning paid traffic didn’t have any benefits, we wouldn’t be talking about it at all. Here are some of the biggest wins attracting paid traffic can bring to your company:

Quick Results

In a race between attracting paid traffic and organic traffic, paid always takes the medal for speed. You can start earning paid traffic to your website within minutes or hours of launching a paid marketing campaign. This is because your paid ads go live to the world the second you click the launch button. There’s no waiting for bots and crawlers to find your content, understand it, and figure out where it should go. You’ve already selected your keywords, placement, and audience segments. Your audience just has to start scrolling or searching for your ads to appear.

Related: Paid vs Organic Traffic: Which Is Your Best Investment?

Traffic Volume

Not only does paid traffic come in much faster than organic traffic, but you also get more of it at one time. Remember, paid marketing puts your ads and content right in front of people’s faces. It doesn’t comes up by chance in a search or they stumble upon it. This curated placement works to make sure that the people you want to see and click on your ads and become visitors to your site make that jump. And when you’re advertising to the right people, it increases your chances of drawing more of them to your site in droves.

Better Audience Targeting

Campaigns that help you attract paid traffic make it easier to appeal to the right people. While organic traffic campaigns have some targeting potential, paid campaigns have more. Paid marketing platforms often have features that let you select everything from audience demographics to behaviors for better ad placement and relevance. These features let you make sure you’re attracting exactly the audience you want versus any audience at all. Better targeting increases your chances of engaging with qualified leads and making more conversions and sales.

More Conversions

Because you can earn paid traffic faster than organic traffic, that also leads to grabbing more conversions faster. It’s the concept of proximity. When you’re driving and notice you need gas, you don’t go out of your way to go to your favorite gas station. You go to one nearby. When people realize they have a need, they don’t want to spend days looking for the right solution. If yours appears at the top of their search results or in their social media feeds, they’ll be more likely to click, explore, and convert.

How Does Earning Paid Traffic Hurt Your Business?

While earning paid traffic is never going to “hurt” your business, diving in headfirst without knowing what you’re getting into can cause some problems. Here are some issues that could show up when you’re working with paid marketing campaigns to attract paid traffic:


The cost of earning paid traffic is typically the biggest drawback for any company. Especially if you’re already pulling in decent organic traffic, why would you pay for something you already get for free? The cost of earning paid traffic hurts your business when you price yourself out of a payment bracket you can afford.

Attracting paid traffic within your budget requires plenty of keywords and competitive research and analysis to better understand the paid marketing landscape of your industry or niche. You shouldn’t dive into trying to earn paid traffic until you understand how the game works and what you can afford.

ROI Potential

If you think you’re going to have a better return on investment (ROI) if you pay for your traffic versus earning it for free, think again. Organic traffic always has a better ROI because there often isn’t an “investment” in the first place. Every dime you earn back from your organic traffic is typically profit. To make a profit from paid traffic, you have to earn back what you spent on the campaign and then make even more.

This doesn’t mean that earning paid traffic isn’t worth the money. Plenty of paid marketing campaigns earn great ROI for brands, and that success keeps them coming back to the strategy again and again. But it’s important to calculate and project your potential campaign ROI before trying to attract paid traffic. If you’re not going to turn a profit, or worse, you’re going to lose money, then attracting paid traffic isn’t the right strategy for your brand at the moment.

Related: How To Calculate Return on Investment With Excel


Running paid marketing campaigns to earn paid traffic requires constant attention from your team. Bidding prices for keywords can change by the minute. Competitors can outbid your top prices to snag the coveted spaces you need to be in to attract your most qualified leads.

This means you have to have team members checking in on your paid campaigns at all times during their entire run. You have to make updates and tweaks to stay competitive and not just beat out your rivals for space, but also entice your audience to click your content and convert. If your team is wrapped up in a paid campaign, this may deplete resources for other projects until the campaign ends.

One way around this upkeep is to outsource your paid marketing efforts to an agency partner. They can handle the daily upkeep of campaigns and free up your team for other projects.

Ad Fraud

If you engage in paid marketing to earn paid traffic, your brand becomes susceptible to ad fraud. Ad fraud is an illegal marketing practice that inflates the number of clicks or impressions your paid ads get to take more of your brand’s money. Some common types of ad fraud include:

  • Domain spoofing: This happens when hackers or other bad actors impersonate your website and serve fraudulent ads to try to attract your audience to their site and content by thinking it’s yours.
  • Cookie and pixel stuffing: In this case, scammy host sites embed cookies or pixels in ads to share fraudulent content with specific users or collect money for ad impressions that didn’t happen.
  • Non-human traffic: In this situation, ad hosts count bot traffic as clicks or impressions to inflate your ad engagement and take more of your money.
  • Click and impression fraud: This happens when hackers or bots repeatedly click or view your ads to take more of your ad money per campaign.
  • Malvertising: In this type of fraud, sometimes paired with domain spoofing, hackers share malicious ads that redirect users to malware-infected websites and install viruses on their devices.

While the threat of potential fraud shouldn’t scare you away from trying to earn paid traffic, it is something you have to consider. Finding reputable ad partners, discussing their fraud prevention methods, and researching your own can help you keep paid marketing on the up and up.

Website Crashes

If your site or server isn’t equipped to handle a large influx of traffic, trying to pull in paid traffic could be a mistake. For all the benefits of instant viewing and high traffic volume, these benefits can actually work against you if your site isn’t up for the challenge. Having more visitors on your site at once may cause slower page loading and affect the speed of other browsing and conversion features like watching videos or completing a transaction.

If too many visitors enter the site at once, it could crash the site or server. Then you’re not earning any traffic at all—paid or organic—because the site isn’t working. This results in a waste of money and lost ROI for every potential visit you could have gotten while the site was down.

When Are the Best Times To Attract Paid Traffic?

paper money from a variety of countries to represent is paid traffic worth the money

Image via Unsplash by @ninjason

When trying to decide if paid traffic is worth the money, it might come down to your current brand situation. Here are some of the best times to try to attract paid traffic when it’s worth the hit to your budget:

When You’re Launching Your Business

If you have the money to promote your site right out of the gate, go for it. Most startups need brand awareness or recognition to get started in their niches. Trying to attract paid traffic is a helpful way to make that happen. Since you get quick traffic volume and recognition from paid marketing, this could help bring more traffic to your new site more quickly and let you become of the hot new names in your industry faster.

When You’re Having a Sale

It’s worth it to pay for traffic during a sale. Sales psychology is a real thing. It focuses on the thought process and intent of your target audience and what’s going to make them more likely to buy products and services at any time. Offering a discount is one way to convince people they need things they don’t really need.

People who feel like they’re getting a bargain may even spend more money than they would on a full-price item because they think they’re “getting more for their money.” Using paid marketing during a sale can actually increase the ROI potential for the paid traffic you earned.

When You’re Hosting an Event

Attracting paid traffic for an event is beneficial, especially when there’s a ticket price or a fee associated with the event to help your ROI. You wouldn’t be hosting an event if you didn’t want people to attend. And the timelines for many events don’t let you start promoting them six months in advance like you may need to attract organic traffic. Trying to attract paid traffic when you’re hosting an event can lead to more signups, better attendance, and interactions with more qualified leads that you can engage with in the future.

When You’re Releasing a New Product or Service

If you want to get the word out about a new product or service fast, trying to attract paid traffic is the way to go. Advertising your latest and greatest products and services is what the entire industry relies on. advertising before the new product or service goes on sale can bring more traffic to your site before launch. This gives people the opportunity to become more familiar with your brand and do things like preorder the product or get on a waiting list for the service. This drums up interest for whatever you’re launching.

When You’ve Rebranded Your Company

Depending on how much of a rebrand your company goes through, you could be starting back at square one trying to attract customers. A name change, logo update, or other rebrand elements are all new to your audience. You have to help them see that you’re still the same great company they remember, or sometimes that you’re nothing like they remember, depending on why you rebranded.

Trying to attract paid traffic during a rebrand invites current and new audience members to explore the changes you’ve made and get more familiar with them before they’re ready to purchase from your company again.

When You Want To Target Specific Audience Segments

Attracting paid traffic works best when you’re looking to target specific audience segments. Because of all the targeting and testing features paid marketing campaigns offer, the process is easier. You can develop ads specifically for new leads, returning customers, or other segments of your audience that you want more engagement from. Thanks to ad placement, only the people you want to see your content will, which increases web visits from those segments.

When You Want To Retarget Previous Visitors

Every website visit isn’t going to lead to a sale or conversion. Not even every visit that comes from paid marketing. You can try to redeem those non-conversions by retargeting customers or clients for more paid traffic. By re-appealing to past organic and paid visitors, you may entice them to return to your website or eCommerce store and make a conversation the second time.

When You’re Trying To Reach a Specific Marketing Goal

If you have specific marketing goals and KPIs that you want to hit, attracting paid traffic could help. Increasing your web traffic, conversions, and engagement are all potential goals you could have for any marketing campaign. If you’ve tried to reach them through organic options in the past and it hasn’t worked, it’s time to start handing out cash and targeting paid traffic.

Is Paid Traffic Worth It?

Only your team and company leaders can decide if appealing to paid traffic is worth the money. The answer isn’t the same for every business. You may not even have the same answer at your own business every time the suggestion to attract paid traffic comes up. It’s important to look at your budget, potential ROI, and campaign goals every time. Do you think paid traffic will help you reach your goals, and can you afford it?

If you answer yes to both those questions, then, yes, trying to earn paid traffic is worth the money. If you answer no to one of the questions, trying to attract paid traffic could be worth it, but not if it comes at a sacrifice to other campaigns or goals. The best way to decide what’s right for your company is to set up a predictive marketing or predictive advertising strategy. Analysis and forecasting help you make the right choices of what your brand can afford and what kind of returns you’ll see from paid campaigns.

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Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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