Where Should Your Digital Marketing Dollars Go? Paid Search vs. Paid SocialBook a Free Consultation ▸
As a business owner or marketer, you’re always looking for ways to reach your target audience, generate leads, and increase sales. Two popular options for achieving these goals are paid social advertising and paid search advertising. If you’re working with a budget, you need to decide where your presence will have the biggest impact, Paid Search or Paid Social and which one is better for your business? In this post, we’ll compare and contrast paid social advertising and paid search advertising, explore their benefits and challenges, and provide some tips on how to choose between them.
What is Paid Search Advertising?
Paid search advertising, also known as search engine marketing (SEM) or pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, refers to the practice of displaying your ads on search engine results pages (SERPs), such as Google, Bing, or Yahoo, through a bidding system.
Paid Search ads are generally reactive – they react to the search terms that are entered into a search engine and trigger ads to display on the search results page. In other words, if you Google for “red cowboy boots,” you’ll get ads for red cowboy boots as well as organic search results. Since Paid Search ads are reliant on search queries, it’s an excellent platform if you have a product to sell, a question that you can answer, or a service that people are looking for.
Paid search advertising offers several benefits, including:
- Intent-based targeting: You can target your ads based on keywords, which means that you can reach people who are actively searching for products or services related to your business.
- Cost-per-click model: You only pay when someone clicks on your ad, which means that you can control your budget and measure your ROI more accurately.
- Measurable results and analytics: You can track various metrics, such as impressions, clicks, conversions, or cost per conversion, and optimize your ads based on data-driven insights.
However, paid search advertising also comes with some challenges and limitations, such as:
- Competition and bidding wars: Depending on your industry or niche, the cost per click for some keywords can be high, which means that you may have to compete with other businesses or advertisers for ad placements.
- Keyword research and optimization: You need to research and select the right keywords for your ads, and optimize your ad copy, landing pages, and bidding strategy accordingly.
- Ad relevance and quality score: Search engines use algorithms to determine the relevance and quality of your ads, based on factors such as ad copy, landing page experience, or click-through rate. If your ads have a low quality score, they may not appear or may cost more.
What is Paid Social Advertising?
Paid social advertising refers to the practice of promoting your business or content on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn, through paid ads. These ads can take various forms, such as sponsored posts, promoted tweets, sponsored stories, or sponsored videos.
Paid Social ads are proactive, placing themselves in front of users on sites like Facebook and Instagram based on their interests. These interests are collected based on page likes, posts, hashtags and their connections online. Lookalike audiences can also be created, finding people similar to ones you already know are in your target demographic.
Ads are built with both images or video and text and are targeted in many of the same ways as Paid Search, Instead of keywords, however, you target based on interest combinations. While you may not be able to target “red cowboy boots” specifically, you can target people who like fashion, particular brand names, stores and who like country music.
Social networks are just that – social, and the ads that do well here are more suited for conversation or engagement. If you’re a startup with strong imagery or your campaign is more content driven, this may be the a better option for your needs.
Paid social advertising offers several benefits, including:
- Targeting options: You can target your ads based on demographics, interests, behaviors, or custom audiences, which allows you to reach the right people with the right message.
- Visual and interactive formats: You can use images, videos, carousels, or other interactive elements to make your ads more engaging and appealing.
- Brand awareness and engagement: You can create ads that showcase your brand’s personality, values, or products, and encourage people to interact with them, share them, or follow your social media accounts.
However, paid social advertising also comes with some challenges and limitations, such as:
- Platform restrictions and changes: Social media platforms often change their ad policies, algorithms, or features, which can affect your ads’ performance or reach.
- Ad fatigue and ad blindness: Social media users are exposed to many ads every day, and they may develop ad fatigue or ad blindness, which reduces the effectiveness of your ads over time.
- Measuring ROI and attribution: It can be challenging to track the impact of your social media ads on your business objectives, such as conversions, revenue, or customer lifetime value, and attribute them to specific ads or campaigns.
Paid Search vs. Paid Social
Both paid social advertising and paid search advertising have their strengths and weaknesses, and choosing between them depends on several factors, such as your business goals, audience, budget, and industry. Here are some key differences between paid social advertising and paid search advertising:
- Targeting options: While both options offer targeting options, paid social advertising allows for more specific targeting based on social media user data, while paid search advertising targets users based on their search behavior and intent.
- Ad formats and placements: Paid social advertising allows for more visually appealing and interactive ad formats, while paid search advertising is limited to text-based ads with a smaller character limit. Paid social advertising typically appears in the user’s social media feed, while paid search advertising appears at the top or bottom of a search engine results page.
- User behavior and intent: Social media users are typically browsing or engaging with content, while search engine users are actively looking for specific information or products. This can affect the effectiveness of your ad messaging and call-to-action.
- Budget and cost considerations: Paid social advertising can be more cost-effective than paid search advertising, as social media platforms often have lower cost-per-click rates. However, the cost can vary depending on the platform and targeting options.
How to Choose Between Paid Social Advertising and Paid Search Advertising
To choose between paid social advertising and paid search advertising, consider the following factors:
- Goals and objectives: If your goal is to increase brand awareness, engagement, or social media following, paid social advertising may be a better fit. If your goal is to generate leads, sales, or website traffic, paid search advertising may be more effective.
- Audience and personas: If your target audience is more active on social media and prefers visual or interactive content, paid social advertising may be a better fit. If your target audience is more likely to use search engines to find products or services, paid search advertising may be more effective.
- Testing and optimization: It’s important to test and optimize your ads based on data-driven insights, regardless of the advertising channel you choose. This can help you improve your ad messaging, targeting, and conversion rates over time.
When the budget allows – you can actually create successful campaigns on both platforms that work together by taking advantage of remarketing. Visitors to your website who came in on a Google Ad could also have a Facebook Ad served to them at a later date, helping to reinforce your brand or message again. Or reverse the funnel and begin with a Facebook boosted post and then find them again on YouTube. There are a myriad of combinations that can be effective to land your business in front of the right eyes.
Remember that no matter where you opt to start your journey into digital advertising, there will always be testing, and your results may not always turn out as you expect. You may find that while you thought you would perform best with men ages 18-24 in Cincinnati, you actually have a solid audience of women over 65 in Kalamazoo. Data analysis is key to determining which platform is right for you.
Paid social advertising and paid search advertising are both valuable tools in a digital marketer’s arsenal, but they offer different benefits and challenges. By understanding the differences between the two and considering your business goals, audience, and budget, you can choose the advertising channel that best suits your needs. At Epic Notion, we can help you create and optimize your paid advertising campaigns, whether on social media or search engines, to achieve your marketing objectives. Contact us today to learn more.
Overwhelmed by the idea of trying to manage an online ad campaign or just in a rut with the one you currently have running? The experts at Epic Notion would love to help! Contact us today!