Paid Search vs Paid Social Advertising: What’s Best for Your Business?

Reading Time: 6 mins

Paid advertising is a must for most businesses these days, whether you are making the most of paid search advertising or paid social advertising.

Social media has become a pay-to-play game, as Facebook and other platforms limiting how much reach you can get without paying to reach your audience.

And while SEO is still an incredibly important channel to optimise for marketing purposes, your competitors are likely making the most of Google Ads and other PPC channels and jumping ahead of any top rankings you may have.

So how do you decide between the two channels? Or should your business be considering running both options?

Paid search

Paid search platforms such as Google Ads, Bing’s Microsoft Advertising and others allow you to show ads when certain search queries are entered. You can also advertise on platforms such as DuckDuckGo, Yahoo and more.

The main benefit of putting your money in paid search is that it is based on intent.

This essentially means that you can show your ad when someone makes a search. If you are a clothing retailer, you can show ads for shoes when someone searches for shoes, or shirts when someone searches for shirts. And of course, you can make these much more specific and targeted based on search queries.

Bidding on something like “mens trainers” might be expensive. But you can fine-tune the queries to find something more relevant.

Paid social ads

So what about paid social advertising? How does that work?

You can advertise on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and basically every social media platform you can think of. Instagram is integrated with Facebook.

With social however, people are not searching for specific things. They are just browsing.

This is more akin to classic forms of advertising. The intent is different. They are having a look around at the news, what their friends are up to, or generally killing time. You must capture their attention somehow.

You need to find a need, and offer your product or service as a solution that captures their attention while they are doing something else.

The benefit of using paid social advertising compared to TV or radio or otherwise is that it is all completely trackable and gives you more information in order to optimise for better results.

You can see the performance in terms of purchases, clicks, impressions and much more.

Paid social ads help to drive traffic and business from more channels with people who will likely have never come across your brand or products ever before.

One huge benefit of paid social advertising is the targeting. With Google, you are targeting based on intent and what they type in. With Facebook and other platforms, you can target people based on their demographics, interests and much more.

You can build out a very specific audience – the perfect target audience for your brand, and advertise to them. The people most likely to find what you offer interesting.

So if you sell clothing, you’d target your target audience easily. Target men’s clothing to men, women’s clothing to women. If a certain age group like your clothing, target them. Target those interested specifically in fashion. Target people who like other designers or retailers who offer similar things to you. Target specific regions, or when certain events have occurred in their life.

So how do you choose?

In theory, you should really try both out and see what works best. You might even find both work well and stick to it.

However, not all businesses can manage everything all at once.

But what’s important to consider is where your target audience is likely to hang out online, and how they would interact with what you offer.

Is what you offer something that will likely capture their attention while browsing social media? Or is it something they will specifically look for?

Paid search works well for quick-results. You are instantly right at the top of the search results for terms you want to be up there for. You can outbid the competition if your budget allows, and getting as many eyeballs as you can.

Does what you offer lend itself to this advertising? Will people click your Google Ad, go to your site and either purchase/enquire about your offer, or will they come back later? Is it worth paying for that click?

Or do you want to get your brand out there? If people aren’t searching for you, your products or your services, look at social. Which platform has your audience? For consumers, try Facebook. For businesses, try LinkedIn. Target your target audience with compelling ads that help to showcase your brand and what you have to offer.