Have you ever wondered the difference between advertising on Google vs advertising on social media? When clients come to us wanting a tailor-made approach to advertising, this is one of the first questions they typically ask. (In fact, even during the process of putting this article together, we were asked this question by a client.) Knowing the pros and cons of both advertising platforms is essential to developing a strategy that works best for your business.
We’ve all experienced it: you search for one product online, and then you see sponsored posts related to your recent search sprinkled throughout your Facebook feed. Facebook and Instagram are now very popular platforms for advertising. But what sets this approach apart, and who is this best for?
If your company or product is new and you are setting out to build awareness of your brand, social media is an excellent place to start. Your ads can be targeted to a very specific, relevant audience, and your posts will appear to users as they are simply scrolling through their feed. This can be a huge advantage of choosing social media as your advertising platform.
One disadvantage of posting ads on social media is that some brands are unrelated to this context. Users might watch a sponsored post regarding lifestyle or home improvement, but would likely scroll past a sponsored post that seems irrelevant to their personal or social life. If your brand feels out of place on social media — or if you’re certain that people often search for your brand, product, or service on Google — you may want to consider advertising on Google instead.
Certain types of sponsored posts can be especially compelling to viewers and help them see what you offer. For example, if you are a hair salon owner, your business could feature “before” and “after” photos, provide valuable content to an audience by sharing tips and articles, and let your following know if they have an opening that day. This can help establish a culture around your brand, make it easier for people to get in touch with you, and reach potential new clients you might not otherwise reach. Without leaving the convenience of a single social media app, users can book an appointment, and inquire about the services you advertise. Those that already come to you for one product or service may see another you offer on social media and reach out to you.
On the other hand, advertising via Google ads can be very effective for specific types of brands. If the product or service you carry is well-known, chances are likely that your exact product, service, or brand name will be typed into a Google search bar. When this happens, it is possible for your ad to appear near the search results on a Google search result page. In this case, you know that a potential customer will likely see your ad at the exact time they are looking for your brand, service, or product. Additionally, some find that due to searchers’ intent, oftentimes those who click ads on Google Ads and arrive on a landing page convert at a higher rate than those directed from social media.
However, if you are just starting out and seeking to build brand awareness, Google users may not know to search for your company name, service, or product and may instead search for a generic term that applies to what they are searching for. Unless you are already well-established with a large audience, you may have too much competition with other companies’ ads for a broad word or phrase. Google does offer other advertising options for businesses seeking to build brand awareness and start creating an audience (such as bumper ads on Youtube videos), but in our experience, that’s where companies can truly shine on social media. For businesses such as hair salons that fit in well on social media, Instagram and / or Facebook may be the most effective way to build an audience whether in tandem with Google ads or not.
If a Google user were to type “hair salon near me” or “hair salons in Chicago,” chances are likely that hair salon businesses that are well-established online will organically appear within the first pages of the regular search results. These results can be surrounded by sponsored Google Ads, which may provide a strong return-on-investment through lead generation. Paying to advertise via Google Ads typically targets those who are already searching for your type of business, product, or service, making it more likely for potential new clients or customers to connect with your brand.
Both Google ads and social media ads can be highly effective ad platforms depending on your brand, but there are multiple factors to consider if deciding between the two. How does your audience search for brands like yours online? Are you an emerging brand, product, or service, needing to build and engage an audience? Would someone know to search Google for what you offer? If so, would search intent make your ad dollars more effective via Google Ads? The answers to these questions (and how relevant your brand would appear in social media) can be some of the biggest factors to consider when moving forward.
At Barton Interactive, we offer specialized marketing and advertising services to a wide variety of brands. If you would like more information about advertising or are interested in discussing a personalized approach for your brand, please reach out to us for a free consultation today.