Paid search Vs Paid social – Which one suits your organization?

Online advertising play an important role in marketing your products or service. Question always arises, should I go ahead with a paid campaign or is it ok to do organic social. How do we conclude as to which type of campaign can the organization go ahead with?

Paid search ads are the one’s which you see at the top and bottom of the search engine results with an AD written alongside, inside a box at the start of the page url or link for a non-product search or sometimes sponsored ads for a product search. This type of search depends on the keywords one types within the search engine – say Google. Each time an ad is clicked (which is pay per click or PPC) or an ad is displayed (cost per impression) the host gets paid. Again, this depends on the way you set your google ad words.

As you can see below, when I type in a keyword “Machine learning” the first three results are paid search.

Paid social refers to sponsored updates and advertisements on social media sites which people see in their news feeds or at the right-hand side or at the top of the social media tool. As you can see from the below screenshot on LinkedIn platform.

Customer Intent or purpose:

 It is very important to know why a user uses a social media platform like Facebook or LinkedIn or a search engine Google or Bing. Based on this one can take a decision to host the ads on any of these platforms. In most cases, a user who wants more information about a product or service before a purchase will prefer search and will prefer social media to connect with people or access user generated content.

To build awareness about your brand one can use social media to promote the content. One can also use a tweet or a post with a link directing the user to the landing page of your website. This would not only get you quality traffic but also helps you gain more followers. Again, engaging content is the key in any of the channels whether paid search or paid social.

Targeting Ability:

With search engines, targeting is mainly based on the keywords user’s type in while conducting a search. Now there are options to target based on location, time, device or language. Marketers can target visitors who have visited your site multiple times, this is known as remarketing.

When it comes to social media sites, targeting becomes a lot easier and effective as there are lot of options ranging from income, gender, organization, designation, interest, age etc this will ensure your message reaches the right set of audience.

There are few social media metrics as mentioned below which one can track to analyse the overall performance of the paid ads.

Bid system: Real estate space is always a concern when it comes to social channels. Most of the social channels use a bidding system to auction their space on the feed. Advertisers often bid on criteria’s like location, time and audience. As always, the more popular the ad slot (say 16:00hrs – US- Right hand feed section in facebook) the more expensive the bid. Bidding system are often run on CPM and CPC.

Cost per thousand impression (CPM): The cost per every 1000 impressions or unique views your ads receive, doesn’t matter if they have taken any action or not. This metric solely depends on the reach and is good for building awareness and really works well for brands having high click through rate. Let’s say if you are paying $1 per 1000 impression, your cost doesn’t increase if 1 person clicks the ads or all 1000 people click.

Cost per click (CPC): CPC is the cost associated with clicks on your ad, each time a user clicks on your ads, you will be charged by the host or channel on which your ads are displayed. One advantage of the CPC model is that you can know the clicks on your banner or ads and the visits which are directed to your site (in case you direct the traffic to your site when they click on an ads). This metrics when combined with visits, avg time spent and bounce rate will give you a complete picture whether your ads are clicked by relevant audience or not. If you have a high bounce rate, it means you need to fine tune your targeting or rejig your content.

Followers: Another way to see if your paid media is doing good is by looking at the increase in number of followers. A growth rate shows that your content can attract new visitors and is liked by your audience. This metrics should be tracked alongside likes, retweets, comments and shares. If your strategy is to build your social community then this is the metrics you need to watch out.

Click-through-rate (CTR): This measure tells you what percentage of users have clicked your ads with respect to the total number of people who were shown the ad. Say if your ad was shown to 10000 people and only 500 people clicked your ad, the CTR would be 500/10000 which is 5%. The higher the CTR the more interesting and compelling is your content and your call to action. Different channels have different ways to calculate the CTR hence one must be careful while analysing these numbers.

Conversion: Paid social drives 20% more conversions than organic as the content is more targeted and generally have a landing page with a lead capture form enabled. A conversion should not only be attributed to lead capture but also if someone takes any action which you want them to take on your landing page, example: watching a video, downloading a pdf or subscribing to your newsletter.

Paid social is a good choice for the customers who are at the beginning of the buyer’s journey and need awareness and engagement before making a purchase. Paid search is ideal when customers know what they are looking for and are ready to buy.

This means that, in general, paid social and paid search should not compete. In fact, the two ways of digital marketing complement one another and can help your business in different phases of your marketing plan.

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