Everybody knows about Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter ads. But are there overlooked places online to buy inexpensive ads?
In 1905, a pharmacist by the name of Claud A. Hatcher worked late into the night on his new formula for a sweet, bubbly liquid. Soon, grocery stores around the world would be selling this new trendy cola. Hatcher came up with a name for his cola—and if you shouted Coca Cola, you would be wrong. He invented RC Cola, the much cheaper and far less famous version of Coca Cola.
In this article, I’ll present you the RC Cola of online advertising options. They might not have the brand power of Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube ads—but they’re a little cheaper and still get the job done.
Use these advertising options to boost your content, impress clients with a cheap media buy, and experiment with your paid media strategy.
Bonus: Download a free guide that teaches you how to turn Facebook traffic into sales in four simple steps using Hootsuite.
My criteria for picking these advertising sites:
Hootsuite wasn’t paid to mention any of these advertising options. I selected these sites based on two criteria.
- They weren’t well-known. For example, everyone knows that Reddit offers cheap advertising. Or that Pinterest advertising works really well for certain products. Or that Snapchat geofilters are wonderfully inexpensive. I don’t go into those sites.
- They weren’t super obscure. You might recognize a few of the brands here. I didn’t want to go too niche. They needed to be broad enough to work for most businesses.
1. Rent someone’s land
With Syndicateads you can buy ad space, rent email lists, and gain social media promotion from industry publications such as Search Engine Journal, CodePen, and LaughingSquid, as well as social reading sites like Digg and Pocket.
How much will it cost?
Prices range from $350 to $4,500 for different campaigns.
Interested? You can browse their directory of sites. You’ll need to create a free account before you can view the list.
Here are a few examples of how far your money will go. I’ll move from most expensive to dirt cheap.
Pocket is a popular app where 18 million users share and save articles they find online. I personally love and use Pocket every day. For $3,750 you can buy placement on Pocket’s popular “Weekly Hits Newsletter”—reaching 1 million email addresses. You can increase your send (for more money, of course).
- Option 1: Send to 1 million for $3,750
- Option 2: Send to 1.5 million for $5,500
- Option 3: Send to 2 million for $6,950
- Option 4: Send to 3 million for $10,250
- Option 5: Send to 4 million for $13,500
According to Pocket, these paid promotions deliver a seven percent open rate, 21 percent click rate, 4.4 percent clickthrough rate, and “dramatic increase in engagement even if original content might not have significant organic traction.”
Brands like Squarespace, Hipchat, Asana, and Docusign have used Pocket’s campaigns. You can see examples on their website (you’ll need to create a free account to view).
Search Engine Journal
For $1,200 you can get a sponsored post on Search Engine Journal including prominent placement in their weekly newsletter sent to 31,000 subscribers. This includes social promotion to their 270,000 followers via Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook (with mentions of your social handles).
The LaughingSquid is a popular blog with 2.6 million page views per month and a large presence on social media (600,000 Twitter followers and 589,000 Facebook fans). For $800, you can purchase a sponsored blog post. Your post will also be promoted on their social channels.
You could promote your new app for $575 by partnering with Startup Curated, the startup community’s newsletter with the best content from and for founders, which goes out to more than 20,000 subscribers every week.
2. Reach ‘real’ people
Targeting Facebook and LinkedIn groups is a common strategy for marketers. But these groups are often resistant to sales pitches and expensive to reach via social media advertising. This is where advertising on Meetup.com can help.
In the old days, social media involved “meeting” people and shaking hands and making eye contact. People still do this—and they use Meetup.com to organize their groups. From local entrepreneur meetings to drunken knitting groups, Meetup.com offers you direct access to about every buyer persona you could ever possibly conceive of.
How to buy advertising with Meetup.com
You can’t directly buy advertising on the site. But you can sponsor a local group. For example, your new productivity software tool could sponsor a popular small business meet-up group in San Francisco.
Find out more about sponsoring Meetup Groups on Meetup’s website.
How much will it cost?
Totally depends. Make an offer to the group’s organizer. I suggest low-balling.
3. Feed a starving artist on Instagram
“I always had the show. But it took me a while to learn the business,” says Snoop Dogg. If you scroll through Instagram, you’ll see that musicians, independent bands, and authors are good at creating content that attracts huge audiences. But do you know what they’re bad at? Figuring out how to monetize those audiences. This is where your opportunity lies.
It’s a common strategy to approach popular celebrities or industry influencers for advertising partnerships. But fewer businesses approach independent artists and musicians—even though these artists have sizable audiences.
How to buy ads from Instagram influencers
Look for moderately famous musicians, authors, and independent artists with more than 100,000 followers on Instagram. Approach these influencers with a direct message (DM) and get them to promote your product for a fee.
In particular, focus on personalities that are better at building audiences than building their business (such as musicians) as these will be cheaper than celebrities or industry influencers. Getting started with influencer marketing? We’ve written a concise guide.
Tools to help find the right Instagram influencers
Use TrendSpottr to find the best Instagram influencers for your products or services.
We’ve also created a popular toolkit for building your influencer marketing strategy. In this free toolkit, you’ll get a guide and spreadsheet to help you specifically target influencers who can influence the decision-making process of your customers.
4.Get creative with Dribbble
Skip this one if you’re not trying to reach creative professionals. Dribbble is a popular community for designers (and people looking to hire designers). It gets millions of views per month and offers access to some of the world’s top design influencers and talent.
There are a few ways to advertise on Dribbble.
- Buy an ad unit. Promote your products to millions of creative professionals. Your ads will show up across Dribbble’s website.
- Email sponsorship. Dribbble sends a weekly email to their community with around 220,000 subscribers. If you have a new design tool or offer for creative professionals, this is a good channel.
- Podcast and meetup sponsorship. You can create a 30-second spot on Dribbble’s bi-weekly podcast. You can also sponsor one of the 150 Dribbble Meetups that take place every year in cities around the globe.
How much will it cost?
Traditional options (display ads, email sponsorship, podcast sponsorship) are in the $2,000 to $3,000 range. You can also buy high-quality, community-focused sponsorships (contests and events) that start in the $10,000 to $15,000 range.
You can place an order or ask for more details on Dribbble’s website.
5. ROI = Radio On the Internet
Podcasts are easy to create. But hard to monetize. That means there are lots of cheap advertising options out there. And who knows, you might land a sleeper hit like our friends, MailShrimp.
How to advertise on podcasts
Sites like Advertisecast help you find popular podcasts to advertise on. Search for a podcast, check out their audience, and then make a deal. Ask the podcast to throw in promotion on their social media accounts. With Advertisecast, you can search the results with a filter. Select “YouTube”—this means you can buy advertising on YouTube shows as well as podcasts.
6. Make your logo bigger
This final one isn’t a social media ad platform. But it’s still cool. The company is called MilkMoney. They offer heavily discounted billboards.
According to their site, thousands of incredible billboards go unsold every day. MilkMoney sends you these last-minute opportunities, offering billboard advertising at “highly discounted prices.”
They also take care of the printing and installation. You can sign up on their website.
Manage your social ads campaigns with Hootsuite
Hootsuite acquired Adespresso—the world’s most popular tool for managing Facebook and Instagram campaigns. Now, it’s really easy to target your Facebook and Instagram ads, run A/B tests, and optimize your ad campaigns with Hootsuite.