Paid Ads Or Free Traffic For Affiliate Marketing? Which Is Best

which is better for affiliate marketing paid ads or free traffic

Quick answer: There is no definitive answer to paid ads or free traffic which is better for affiliate marketing – both are good and have their pros and cons and it’s actually a question of time versus money.

If you have time or you’re just starting in affiliate marketing and have a low budget, free traffic is the best way to go as it’s sustainable for a longer period.

Whereas paid traffic can be useful if you want quick results but it requires money and sometimes you may not get the best return on your investment.

However, it doesn’t matter whether the traffic is free or not, what matters is if the traffic is targeted or not.

Because you can pay for traffic that’s 100% useless and engage 100% free traffic that’s 100% targeted.

Which Is Better – Paid Ads Or Free Traffic For Affiliate Marketing?

The answer to that is, it depends. Both paid traffic and free traffic have their advantages and disadvantages.

The best option for your business will depend on your goals, budget, and target audience.

Free traffic can be a cost-effective way to build your brand and attract ideal customers for the long term. 

With free traffic, you can focus on creating high-quality content that resonates with your target audience, and use SEO and social media to drive significant traffic to your website.

However, free traffic can take time and a lot of work to build, and it can be difficult to measure the ROI of your efforts.

On the one hand, paid traffic can provide quick results and allow you to target specific audiences with precision. 

With paid ads, you can get your message in front of potential customers who may not have found you otherwise, and you can track your results and adjust your strategy as needed. 

However, paid ads can be expensive, and if you’re not careful, you can end up spending a lot of money without seeing the best return on your investment.

That said, if you ask for my opinion, I recommend a combination of both. 

The distinction between paid and free organic traffic, it’s not that one is better than another, it’s more personal preference.

I know affiliate marketers who are getting decent results from their affiliate business using both paid and organic traffic (either separately or together).

So, generally speaking – no traffic source is better than another, every traffic source will work perfectly if you master it.

the difference between paid traffic and free traffic

But you need to think about:

  • Your own current experience working with such traffic sources.
  • Your budget (Paid traffic can be a bit expensive)
  • Your own time (how long you are prepared to work on your website to see SEO results – this can take months of hard work!)
  • Offer that you are promoting (some affiliate products will not convert well on SEO but will convert on PPC, and vice versa)
  • Restrictions (some affiliate programs specifically do not allow running paid traffic to their offer and some paid traffic sources do not accept running affiliate links through their platform)

What Is Paid Ads In Affiliate Marketing?

understanding paid traffic networks

Paid ads are also known as pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. This involves paying for traffic to your website, blog, or affiliate product sales page. 

Paid ads can be done through a variety of channels, including:

  • Search engines
  • Social media platforms
  • And display networks 

What Are The Best Platforms To Invest In Paid Traffic?

Here are some popular options where you can invest in paid traffic:

  • Google Ads: Google Ads is one of the largest and most widely used advertising platforms. It allows you to create text ads, display ads, and video ads that appear on Google’s search results and partner websites. You can target specific keywords and demographics to reach your desired audience.
  • YouTube Ads: YouTube Ads allow you to advertise through video content on the world’s largest video-sharing platform. You can create TrueView ads, skippable in-stream ads, and more.
  • Facebook Ads: Facebook Ads is a powerful platform for reaching a highly targeted audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors. It supports various ad formats, including image ads, video ads, carousel ads, and more.
  • Instagram Ads: As part of Facebook Ads, Instagram offers a visually appealing platform for advertising, especially for brands with engaging visual content. You can create photo ads, video ads, carousel ads, and story ads on Instagram.
  • Twitter Ads: Twitter Ads enables you to promote tweets, accounts, or trends to a specific audience. Targeting options include demographics, interests, and keywords.
  • LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn Ads are suitable for B2B marketing, allowing you to target professionals based on job titles, industries, and company sizes. Ad formats include sponsored content, sponsored InMail, and display ads.

When investing in paid traffic, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of your target audience, set specific goals, and carefully monitor and analyze the performance of your campaigns. 

Testing and optimizing your ads over time will help you achieve better results and a higher return on investment (ROI).

top paid affiliate networks for affiliate marketing

How Paid Ads Work?

When you run a paid ad campaign, you bid on specific keywords or phrases that are relevant to your business or the product you’re promoting. 

And when someone searches for those keywords, your ad will appear at the top of the search results or in a prominent position on a website.

What Are The Pros Of Paid Ads?

One of the main advantages of paid ads is that it can provide you with almost instant results.

I mean you can set up a campaign and start driving tons of traffic to your website within a matter of hours. 

  • Targeted audience: With paid ads, you can target your audience based on their demographics, interests, and behaviors. This allows you to reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.
  • Fast results: Unlike free traffic methods, paid ads can deliver results quickly. You can start seeing traffic and sales within hours or days of launching your campaign.
  • Control over budget: With paid ads, you have complete control over your budget. You can set a daily or monthly limit and adjust it as needed based on the performance of your ads.
  • Measurable results: Paid ads provide detailed analytics that allows you to track the performance of your campaigns. You can see how many people clicked on your ads, how many converted into customers, and how much revenue you generated.
benefits of using paid traffic to promomte affiliate products

What Are The Cons of Paid Ads?

While paid ads have many benefits, there are also some drawbacks to consider.

The traffic you receive from paid ads is often less qualified than organic traffic, since people may be clicking on your ad simply because it’s at the top of the search results, rather than because they’re genuinely interested in your product, service, or content.

let’s take a look at a few of them:

  • Cost: Paid ads can be expensive, especially if you are targeting a competitive keyword or audience. You may need to invest a significant amount of money upfront to see results.
  • Competition: Depending on your industry, there may be a lot of competition for the keywords and audience you are targeting. This can drive up the cost of your ads and make it harder to stand out.
  • Ad fatigue: Over time, people may become tired of seeing your ads and start ignoring them. This can lead to a decrease in click-through rates and conversions.
  • Less trust: Some people are skeptical of paid ads and may be less likely to trust your brand if they see your ads everywhere. This can make it harder to build a loyal customer base.


As paid ads can be a powerful tool for driving traffic to your website. They’re not without their drawbacks. 

It’s important to weigh the pros and cons carefully and consider your budget and goals before deciding whether to invest in paid advertising.

What Is Free Traffic In Affiliate Marketing?

Free traffic, also known as organic traffic, refers to visitors who find your website through unpaid channels, such as search engines, social media, and other websites. 

How Do I Get Free Traffic For Affiliate Marketing?

Here are some effective ways to drive organic traffic to your website or affiliate links without spending money:

  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO): Create high-quality content that people are looking to consume or address your target audience’s need, then optimize your content for search engines by using relevant keywords in the content.
  • Social Media Marketing: Create and share your content on popular social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Engage with your audience by responding to comments and messages. Utilize hashtags to increase the discoverability of your posts.
  • Content Marketing: Develop a content strategy that includes blog posts, articles, videos, or infographics. Share your content on various platforms to reach a wider audience.
  • YouTube Channel: Create videos related to your niche and include links to your website or affiliate products in the video description. Optimize video titles and descriptions for search engines.
  • Email Marketing: Build an email list and send regular newsletters or updates. Share valuable content and include links to your website and affiliate products. Use compelling subject lines to increase email open rates.
  • Guest Posting: Write guest posts for other blogs or websites in your niche. Include a link back to your website or a relevant landing page. This not only drives traffic but also establishes you as an authority in your field.
  • Forum Participation: Join forums and online communities related to your niche. Contribute valuable insights, answer questions, and share your expertise. Include a link to your website or relevant content in your forum signature.
  • Networking and Collaboration: Build relationships with other content creators or influencers in your niche. Collaborate on projects, guest posts, or social media shoutouts to cross-promote each other.

What Are The Advantages Of Free/Organic Traffic?

There are so many benefits to free traffic, one of the main advantages is that it’s free. 

This makes it a great option for businesses or affiliate marketers that don’t have a lot of money to spend on advertising. 

Additionally, free traffic tends to be more qualified than paid traffic, since people are actively searching for information related to your product, service, or niche.

Here are some of the benefits of using free traffic:

  • It is free: One of the biggest advantages of free traffic is that it doesn’t cost anything. This makes it a great option for businesses with small budgets or those who are just starting out.
  • It is less demanding: Free traffic methods such as SEO and content marketing require less effort than paid advertising. Once you have created quality content, it can continue to attract traffic long after you have stopped actively promoting it.
  • Works for businesses with small budgets: As mentioned earlier, free traffic is a great way for businesses with small budgets to attract potential customers. This is because it doesn’t require any financial investment.
  • Those who click on your link already trust that what they will find is what they need: When someone clicks on a link to your website from a search engine or social media platform, they are already interested in the topic. This means that they are more likely to engage with your content and take action.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Free Traffic?

There are several benefits to free traffic. However, generating free traffic can be time-consuming and requires a lot of effort. 

You need to create high-quality content regularly, optimize your website for search engines, and build a strong social media presence. 

Additionally, it can take months or even years to see significant results from your efforts.

Below are some of the cons of using free traffic:

  • It takes a lot of time to create content: Creating quality content that will attract traffic can take a lot of time and effort. This is especially true if you are just starting out and don’t have an established audience.
  • Results are not immediate: Unlike paid advertising, free traffic methods such as SEO and content marketing take time to produce results. It can take weeks or even months before you start seeing significant traffic to your website.
  • It requires ongoing effort: Once you have created quality content, you need to continue promoting it in order to attract traffic. This requires ongoing effort and can be time-consuming especially if you’re new and have to put a ton of content out there.
  • It is not as targeted as paid advertising: While free traffic methods can attract a lot of visitors to your website, they are not as targeted as paid advertising. This means that you may attract visitors who are not interested in your product or service, which can result in a lower conversion rate.

Wrapping it Up!

Paid traffic vs free traffic which is better for affiliate marketing? Well, like I said earlier, there is no straightforward answer to this, it depends on several factors.

Let’s take a look at those factors so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your business.

1. Factors to Consider

When deciding between paid ads and free traffic, there are several factors to consider:

  • Budget: Paid ads require a budget, while free traffic does not. If you have a limited budget, free traffic may be the better option.
  • Timeframe: Paid ads can drive traffic quickly, while free traffic takes time to build up. If you need traffic quickly, paid ads may be the better option.
  • Target audience: Paid ads allow you to target specific audiences, while free traffic does not. If you have a specific audience in mind, paid ads may be the better option.
  • Competition: If your industry is highly competitive, paid ads may be necessary to stand out. If your industry is less competitive, free traffic may be sufficient.

2. Case Studies and Examples

Let’s take a look at some case studies and examples to see how paid ads and free traffic have worked for different businesses:

Business APaid adsIncreased website traffic and sales
Business BFree trafficA slow but steady increase in website traffic and sales over time
Business CBoth paid ads and free trafficSignificant increase in website traffic and sales

As you can see, different strategies work for different businesses. Business A saw success with paid ads, while Business B saw success with free traffic. Business C saw success with both paid ads and free traffic.