Advertising can be an easy way to break into the internet but there are many downsides to it. Unless you are running a community based site, have a site offering very unique content, a valuable service or product the traffic usually only comes as long as your paying for it. Of course ad campaigns can also be very expensive to run and maintain so you need to be sure your squeezing everything you can out of it. You should only proceed with a ad campaign if you are positive your site is the best it can be, otherwise you may just be pouring money away. There are thousands of companies on the internet who offer to provide you with ad campaigns, many of which never deliver, do not let any of these points put you off advertising.
If you want quality traffic with affordable prices you are recommended to stick with the major search engines and their partners. Google Adwords, Overture and MSN are all well respected companies which will deliver you the best traffic. All of the forementioned websites use pay per click systems which can be perfect as they drive traffic with keywords you specify directly at your site, these advertisers are all interlinked with the main search engines so you should expect to get the most widespread sections of the population from them. Because they have the traffic numbers to support ad campaigns there can sometimes be bidding wars on popular keywords, I advise you to stay away from popular keywords and do your research. Overture provides a free Keyword Selector Tool which can help you find out how much traffic similiar keywords recieve each month, these are usually a lot cheaper and still provide the same high quality traffic.
As I mentioned before advertising wont necessarily mean a good flow of traffic after you stop paying, other routes of advertising can mean you get listed in a search engines immediately for a set fee. Yahoo offers the ability to pay for a index within their search engine or directory, although your site still needs to abide by the same rules as other sites it gives you the opportunity to get indexed immediately within the search engine, a more subtle way of advertising power. Alternatively you can find quality sites that are related to yours on Sitepoint.com and WebHostingTalk.com who may be willing to put a one way link up for a nominal fee.
You may find websites on the internet offering “banner exchanges”, “free traffic” and other such promises, I wouldent look at them twice unless you want to lose out. The traffic they send you is of the worst quality, many of these websites operate bots, own networks of link farms and even pay people to visit your site. This of course means that no one being referred from these sites are actually interested in your content or services, in worst case scenarios you may even end up being banned from search engines due to these malicious sites. Even if they are reputable companies it is hard to judge whether they will work for you, many of the smaller search engine companies simply do not get the traffic to give you value for money.