Paid Search vs Paid Social

Paid Search vs Paid Social

google adwords sign 2556952 1024x576 - Paid Search vs Paid Social

When it comes to digital marketing, advertising is the most effective and efficient way to target your audience and get your message across. It has become a lot easier to engage with potential customers by reaching out to them via Facebook ads, Google ads, and other types of ads.

However, with all the platforms available to marketers, it can be overwhelming to find the right one for your business. The two most popular platforms right now are Google ads (Paid Search) and Social Media ads (Paid Social). These two are often used interchangeably by most marketers and business owners who are not familiar with them, but there are distinct differences between these two advertising platforms that everybody should understand.

This guide will discuss what paid search is versus paid social, and what makes them different. We’ll also show you what benefits each platform brings for your business, how to use them, and where they fit into your marketing campaign. This comparison between two marketing channels will help you make informed marketing decisions for your business.

What Is Paid Search?

When you say paid search, this includes ads that are shown in response to search queries. There are different types of paid search ads depending on the search engine used, but the most popular is Google ads. In fact, paid search is usually equivalent to Google ads.

Paid search is great for reaching out to people who already know what they need. This is called intent-based advertising. The users are actively looking for an answer or solution to their problem so they are ready to make a purchase. Paid search is the best option for getting in front of customers with high purchase intent.

What Is Paid Social?

Paid social, on the other hand, are ads that show up when users visit a social media platform, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, or Twitter. Compared to paid search, customers on social media are not actively looking for a solution to their problem, so their buying intent is low.

Social media ads work like traditional advertising. Marketers just send out the ad to the target audience and the advertiser waits for the customers to come to them. The only difference with traditional ads is that the performance of your social media ads can be tracked real-time. This gives you the opportunity to adjust your campaign and make changes according to the results.

Comparing Paid Search and Paid Social

We’ve discussed what paid search and paid social are all about, but let’s look closely at the main differences between these two platforms to help you arrive at better marketing decisions.


When it comes to ad format, paid search is mostly text ads, since they are located above the organic search results. When you type in a query on Google, for example, you’ll find that the first few items on the SERPS are labeled as ads. These are your Google ads. It’s pretty much the same with all the other search engines. Social media ads, on the other hand, come in different forms. They can be text, image, video, slideshow, event, or even a mix of these media formats.


One of the advantages of online advertising is the ability to target specific people for your campaigns. This was impossible with traditional advertising. Google ads are powered by the Big G, so advertisers can take advantage of Google’s laser-targeting tools to bring the ads in front of the right people. Google ads are keyword-based, but advertisers can also include other parameters, such as time of the day, the device used, browsing history, search history, and others. You can even target visitors who visited your website, which is another marketing technique called retargeting.

Social media platforms are also equipped with powerful targeting features, particularly Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn. The targeting features vary according to the social media platform being used, but basically, social media targeting revolves around the profile of the customers. You can target your audience according to age, gender, location, job title, interests, company, buying habits, interests, likes, and others. For example, you can target an audience located in Sydney, Australia composed of male sales managers between 30-55 years old, that are interested in vintage cars.


In online marketing, the more budget you have, the better. But what if you have a limited budget and you want to maximize your resources? Of course, you want to go for the cheaper option. So which is cheaper — paid search or paid social? Paid search is measured by clicks. The cost per click depends on the difficulty of the keyword used or where the buyer is located in the sales funnel. The average CPC is around $1 to $2.

For social media, you can set the budget that you like, the lowest being $1. You can set your budget as high or as low as your budget allows you.

Which Is Better for Your Business?

The main goal of promoting your business through online advertising is to reach the right audience with the right message. Whether you use paid social or paid search depends on a lot of factors, such as your budget, your goals, where your customers are, and what you want them to do. Paid search is perfect for customers who already know what they want and are ready to buy. So when you need leads or sales ASAP, paid search is the best option.

Paid social, on the other hand, is for those customers who do not know what they want (yet) or those who need more information and engagement before making a purchase. Social media ads are great for building brand awareness and engaging with your target audience.

Which platform is more worthy of your dollars? There is actually no reason to compare. Paid social can complement paid search and vice versa. These two digital marketing platforms can both help your business in different stages of your marketing plan. Instead of thinking which platform is best for your business. What you should think about is how to maximize each platform and make them work together seamlessly.

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