The objective of any business is, of course, to make money through sales. But growing your brand takes time and effort. The very first step to a successful business is funding efforts that will position your brand to perform.
While word-of-mouth marketing can still be effective for local and small businesses, it’s more than likely you’ll have to invest in marketing strategies from an in-house team or external agency to hold your own in this increasingly competitive market.
So what’s the key to a successful business? Any expert marketer will tell you it’s investing in a strategy that attracts, interests, and engages users and converts them to (loyal) customers. But to secure a customer base to support your business, a marketing team will need to develop a plan to get your brand in front of prospective customers. What is the most effective and efficient way to do this? We’re here to help!
Paid advertising is our go-to strategy to grow businesses. We leverage this to build brand awareness among new audiences and drive conversions by targeting users. Search and social ads present numerous growth opportunities when it comes to paid efforts. Here is everything you need to know about search and social ads and some key differences to note that pertain to initiative and performance.
What is Paid Advertising?
Paid efforts consist of developing advertisements that will appear within the search results or social media feed(s) of potential customers to drive traffic, generate (new) leads, and boost conversions. However, before your business develops a paid plan, there are a few questions you should consider and attempt to answer:
- What channels should your brand use?
- Which social media platforms will best reach your target audience?
- What type of ad will perform best and generate the most leads?
- How can you get the best returns on your advertising investments?
Discuss these questions with your marketing team to develop a paid advertising plan that will deliver the best results for your business.
Google Search Ads have proved that they’re a valuable investment for businesses. In 2021, 96% of brands spent money on Google Ads. The previous year, companies invested $110 billion in search advertising to grow their businesses and boost sales.
Search Ads appear on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs) in response to a user’s searched query. They can often be featured even before organic search results and sometimes at the bottom of the results page. These ads appear to users actively searching for a relevant product or service.
So, if your ad ends up within a user’s SERPs, your brand offers something relevant to their search. For example, if a user searches “Best gifts for coffee lovers,” your ad featuring “20% off coffee mugs plus a free gift wrap” may (likely) appear in this user’s search results because the product and offer are targeted and useful to this individual. In a way, it’s like they’re already searching for you!
If your ad does end up in a user’s SERPs because they are searching for something relevant to your brand – whether it be a product, service, or information – these ads will likely generate leads and conversions amongst these users.
Paid Social Ads
Paid social ads appear across social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. They are featured within a user’s content feed, where they spend the most time browsing and engaging with content. Paid social ads are featured as promoted content, sometimes marked as “sponsored” so users know they are viewing an ad.
These paid ads appear to users based on their activity within a social platform, like posts and content they’ve interacted or engaged with (through likes, shares, and comments), and demographic information such as location, age, gender or identity, and interests.
According to Survey Monkey, 48% of social media users have bought something they’ve seen featured in promoted content. So, while paid social ads do drive conversions, they often perform better in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey.
Difference(s) Between Search and Social Ads
There are several differences between search and social ads, especially when it comes to their performance, target persona, and under what circumstance(s) they are most useful to a brand. Here are a few key differences to keep in mind:
As mentioned previously, search ads appear to users who have entered a relevant query into the search engine. They are targeted to users based on keywords the advertiser has elected as relevant to the offer or promotion.
Targeting these ads based on keywords makes it easier to get them in front of users who intend to purchase (AKA, people who have searched for a product or service and are looking to convert). As a result, conversion rates are usually higher with search ads because the targeted users are further along in the buyer’s journey. While demographic info can be used to target potential customers, keywords take precedence.
On the other hand, social ads target potential customers based entirely on demographics and user “interests” determined by their interactions with content. What content a user engages with or has engaged with on a particular social media platform will determine the type of ads in their feed. For example, a skincare brand will target users who have demonstrated an interest in self-care across a particular platform based on who they follow, the content they’ve interacted with, and any previous in-app purchases made with a competitor or similar brand.
Generally, social ads are better for targeting users in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey (interest or awareness) to get them introduced to and interested in a product or brand relevant to their demographic information and history within the app. This is where social ads are especially useful to build awareness.
Researching the Competition
Competitor research plays an important role in the success of your ads. How much effort you put into researching competing ads can affect how your own ad reaches users and performs. Competitor research can help your brand and copywriting team stay ahead of the competition when creating your own ads.
Because search ads are keyword-heavy (and dependent on these keywords for success), you should do your due diligence to search for competitor ads by entering your own keywords in the search engine. However, finding a competitor’s social ads is more difficult if you are not their target audience since these ads rely heavily on demographics for reach.
If your goal is to increase competitiveness, search ads are an easier way to assess, analyze, and get ahead of your competitors.
Search ads rely entirely on the creative text in headlines and descriptions to capture users. Because there is no visual element to accompany these ads, quality and creative written copy that will rank, reach, and engage users are a must for ad performance.
Even if your search ads are well written, they can still get lost in the sea of text-based ads and search results. Because targeted searchers have a clear intent, these ads need to answer or respond to their query as precisely as possible but with enough creativity to stand out. This is a considerable challenge for even the most experienced and talented copywriters.
Social ads, however, offer an additional element of creativity: a visual component – like an image or video – in addition to short-form copy. A captivating image or video is more likely to stop a user mid-scroll and engage their interest in an ad. Visual social ads can also have a more impactful impression on users compared to text-based searched ads because an added visual and auditory component stimulates for senses.
Because users who view these ads aren’t searching for something specific and can be anywhere on the large spectrum of the buyer’s journey, social ads rely on storytelling to effectively engage users. Reeling in potential customers with a compelling story that captures the business, products, or services, and any special offers or benefits in a creative and branded way is key to resonating with users.
Ads that target users who are further along in the buyer’s journey tend to be more costly, whereas social ads are generally less expensive. Because of this, social ads are commonly used to build brand awareness for users in the early stages of the buyer funnel.
With search ads, advertisers put their brand in front of a user based on their search query. The objective of search ads is to boost conversions. This is done by targeting users looking for something specific with relevant ad content. With social ads, however, advertisers are putting their brand in front of a user based on their profile and demographic information as part of a larger audience. The objective of these ads is often to build brand awareness and engage the interests of new audiences and potential customers.
Which ad your brand decides to develop and launch at a particular time will depend on your intention for that ad.
Zero Gravity Marketing: The Paid Ad Experts
When it comes to ads, our team’s paid media strategies are unmatched. From our creative content team to our expert paid strategists, ZGM has the experience to take your business to the next level. For more information about our services and how we can support your brand’s goals, contact our team.