Search Ads vs Social Ads – Pros, Cons, and Which Make the Most Sense for Your Business

Apr 28, 2023 | Digital Marketing, Online Advertising

Search Ads vs Social Ads – Pros, Cons, and Which Make the Most Sense for Your Business

When choosing a marketing strategy, it’s important to choose wisely since you don’t want your company wasting valuable time and resources going after a strategy that won’t provide your desired returns. Online advertising is only one part of many businesses’ marketing strategies,  but it is a critical part. 

With so many different platforms to choose from, it can be difficult to know which path any one company should take, but at Dedicated Designs, we can help you narrow it down to determine which is the best course of action for your business at any given time. 


What is the difference between paid search and paid social ads? 

When you hear the term “social ad,” you likely typically think of social media platforms, and the most popular of those online spaces include Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. Depending on which social media platform(s) you choose, social ads can be displayed in a variety of formats, but usually appear within the main feed as users are scrolling and browsing. 

Search ads on the other hand are usually displayed in the search engine results. The most popular of these search engines is of course, Google, but there are also times that ads can display on yahoo, AOL, Bing, and others when certain queries are used. Search ads on Google sometimes appear before or after the organic search results, depending on the platform and several other factors. 


Social ads versus search ads – what are the most important differences?

The most important distinctions between search ads and social ads include their cost, targeting, objectives, competitor research, and creative component.


#1 – The Creative Component: 

Social ads are typically much more visually creative to catch the eye of people scrolling online. Using images or videos in this catchy, visual format can entice users to stop scrolling and engage with your content. Because humans are a visual species, strong, stand-out visuals can be more impactful and more memorable than text-based advertisements.

Search ads on the other hand, are more descriptive and typically make good use of text. If a user is searching for something very specific on a search engine, and you are selling the product or service they’re looking for, then text-based marketing can be very effective. If however, you’re trying to capture the attention of people who haven’t necessarily started looking for a specific product or service yet, you may want to go with more captivating, visual social ads. 


#2 – The Cost Factor:

Generally, it is more expensive to target an online user who is looking for something more specific, because overall they are more valuable to companies. A user at the very beginning of their customer journey online is generally less costly to advertise too. Because of this nearly universal truth, search ads are typically more expensive since they are used to drive sales at a later point in a customer’s purchasing journey. 


#3 – The Targeting Factor: 

When using search ads, it is much easier to capture the attention of people who already have an intent to purchase a good or service because they are specifically searching for that item already. This typically means higher conversion rates for specific products or services. 

Social ads on the other hand, are great at targeting online users based on specific interests or demographics. When you use a targeting strategy with social media ads, you generally want to target a specific audience or interest pool rather than an individual searching for a very specific product. Social media ads are thus preferred for reaching a broad network of customers who may want to learn more about your offerings based on their interests, but are not currently searching for one specific product or service.


#4 – The Competitive Research Factor: 

Depending on your target audience, you may need to put more or less effort into researching your competitors. When dealing with search ads that are primarily used to answer keywords in search queries, you can gain a lot of information by taking a look at the other relevant ads from competitors in the same field. Simply enter the keywords related to your product or service and see how other advertisers are marketing, paying attention to the higher difficulty ranking and whether they are using paid search vs. paid social ads. 

When scrolling social media, it is often more difficult to see or analyze competitors’ ads because you may not be in their target audience based on your personal interests or previous search queries. In this way, it is sometimes helpful to use what’s called a “social ad competitor research tool” to investigate what competitors are doing in the marketing space.


#5 – The Specific Objective Factor: 

The general objective of your advertising will make it easier to decide which marketing strategy to employ. Search ads are often great at conversion, since their goal is to meet customers at the end of their journey and sell them a specific product or service. The advantages of social media ads on the other hand, involve the fact that they are more strategically used to build general interest and excitement around a brand, product, or service area. 

Since each of these tactics is linked to a different stage of the advertising process, it’s smart to use a combination of search ads and social ads to reach your target audience where they are at any given time. 


How Can Dedicated Designs Help Your Company Thrive? 

At Dedicated Designs, we can help any business understand how to use multiple platforms and different types of ads to reach different kinds of customers along the customer journey. Not only that, but we can assist with gathering all kinds of data surrounding the best performing platforms and demographics for the products and/or services you offer, so that your company can get the biggest return on investment.

Whether you want help with search ads on Google, deciding between paid search vs. paid social ads, or learning about a higher difficulty ranking, our professional team is highly motivated to help your business grow; after all, the success of your business equals the success of ours! 

Contact us today at (916) 243-5003 and browse the many different services we provide on our website. We also offer a quick and easy online form that you can fill out to get in touch. We look forward to helping you with all of your online and offline marketing needs to take your company to the next level.

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