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PPC Search Ads or Social Media Ads – Which is Better?

Pay-per-click 8 min READ


February 17, 2023

PPC search ads can favor your business goals just as much as social media ads, as long as you’re clear about your goals and audience behavior.

How are your social media ads and PPC campaigns performing these days? Are they performing better than before, or you don’t see any results at all?

We know you put in all the time, money, and effort to ensure that your campaigns deliver the results you want. And if it doesn’t work, maybe it is time to reconsider your PPC management strategy and try a different approach.

Aside from social media ads, there are other multiple digital advertising channels to try out there. PPC search ads are one of them. And, arguably, are worth exploring as an effective alternative or additional channel to your already existing social media ad campaigns.

Not sure if you should try out search ads? Or are you planning to incorporate both in your ad efforts? Let this article help you make the best decision for your future PPC campaigns. Read on to find out more about PPC search ads versus social media ads.

PPC search ads versus social media ads – what’s the difference?

Figuring out the difference between the two is the first step in evaluating which ad is more suitable for your campaigns.

Understanding how each operates in different ways will help shed light as to when they are or are not applicable to your goals.

You can also check out our full guide on all digital advertising channels for more information on how to optimize each of them.

PPC search ads

As the name suggests, search ads refer to paid advertisements deployed on search engines. These are keyword-intent based, meaning your audience sees these ads based on search keywords they type in Google, Bing, Yahoo, or other search engines. It will also consider other factors such as location, language, and the device used for the search query.

There are different examples of search ads. Take note of three of the most popular search ads right now:

  • Google Ads. Is the most popular search ads channel because of its massive user base (almost 80, 000 searches per second happen on Google). It’s for this reason that Google hosts lots of products and services to reach different customers. But that also means that the competition for search engine results page (SERP) rankings are extremely tight.
  • Microsoft Advertising. Formerly known as Bing Ads, Microsoft Advertising is the paid search platform for other popular search engines such as Bing and Yahoo. While Microsoft Advertising is a relatively new player, it’s still as competitive as Google’s ad platform. This channel even reaches specific audiences that are unreachable by Google.

Social Media Ads

Are paid advertisements published on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and so on. While paid search ads focus on keyword intent, social media ads put importance on audience demographics and interests.

Many social media platforms host their own ads, the most popular of which:

  • Facebook Ads. These ads are seen on Facebook. You can also choose your ad placement on the Facebook platform itself, Messenger, and Instagram. In the channel, you can usually see it on the top and right corner of Facebook, sometimes on the Newsfeed.
  • TikTok Ads. TikTok ads are ads seen across the TikTok platform. Since TikTok is one of the hottest platforms at the moment, brands aiming for viral fame should definitely consider this channel. The ads are usually in the form of creative videos on the platform.
  • Instagram Ads. Instagram ads are found in the Instagram ads section. As a visual-forward platform, it’s the ideal channel for image and video ads. And because Instagram and Facebook are both housed under Meta, you can deploy a single iteration of a specific ad on both platforms, simultaneously.
  • Twitter Ads. Twitter advertising is one of the more costly ones on this list of platforms. However, it has proven to benefit a number of key opinion leaders and B2B marketers since the audience behavior leans toward interacting with them. For Twitter Ads, you can promote specific tweets, or threads of tweets, and you can even promote your own profile with a call to action to follow.
  • LinkedIn Ads. Offers professionals and B2B marketers an avenue to advertise to their specific type of clientele. Much like Facebook, you can promote posts with photos or videos attached, or you can also promote long text posts or articles. And because it also functions as a recruitment or talent scouting platform, you can also promote job openings on the platform.

Factors to consider when choosing an ad channel

Frankly, both social media ads and search ads can be beneficial to your PPC campaign. However, it really does depend on many factors, like your company’s available resources and your customer’s preferences.

To help you choose which ad channel works best for your brand efforts, here are some of the significant factors that you need to consider:

  • Your customer’s media consumption patterns. Take a good look at the analytics that you have right now. What does it say about your customer’s interests? Are they into watching videos? Which videos of yours did they clicko on or engaged with the most? Checking out your customer’s behavioral patterns can give you an idea of what kind of ads will certainly catch their attention.
  • Demographics. You have to know where your target customers are. Most Gen Z and millennials spend most of their time online, and they will browse social media more compared to older generations. So it would not make sense to invest in ads on a particular platform where your demographics have little to no presence at all.
  • Your competitors’ channels. Your competitor just had an awesome and trending ad. How did they do that? You can go ahead and explore their channels as well. It will give you insights into how they pull off their ads, and these insights may help you in mapping the strengths and weaknesses of your own PPC campaign.
  • Your budget vs costs of advertising. Social media ads and search ads can be expensive. But just because they’re expensive doesn’t always equate to being effective. So before you shell out loads of money for your ads, check your budget first. Evaluate if the ads that you intend to invest in can meet your campaign goals, without resulting in huge financial losses.
  • Your infrastructure. Your infrastructure is also an essential factor in choosing an ad channel. If you have a website, search ads are a good way to direct traffic to your brand’s official site. If you are operating on social commerce, you’ll be more likely to choose social media ads.

Facebook ads are one of the most popular social media ads.

ADDITIONAL READING: Facebook Ad Optimization Checklist to Increase Conversions

When to choose search ads over social media ads

Just because social media platforms are all the rage these days, it doesn’t guarantee that your social media ads will always yield the results that you want from your PPC campaign. This is why it’s beneficial to also explore search ads, which is just as effective and expansive in terms of audience reach.

Whatever your social media ads can do, your search ads can also do. Discover the following social media campaign goals that your search ad objectives can also meet:

  • When you want to expand beyond your current follower base. If you want to build up brand recognition for the first time, social media ads are great options. Potential customers will see your brand easily through their social media feeds. But if you already have a solid brand reputation, search ads are your go-to ad channel. Still, you can convert your interested customers to more loyal customers using search ads. After all, in 2020 alone, consumers make more than 160 billion search entries per month—and this number is only for Google.
  • When you are striving to boost visibility for ecommerce shops. Social media channels are now also platforms for online shops. Facebook and Instagram have their Shop features that display product prices and descriptions. Social media ads can be used if your shop’s operations are exactly within the said platforms. Search ads, on the other hand, would be more suitable if you have your own website to promote your brand’s products. Having your own website is also more beneficial to your business, as a unique and efficient website will help you stand out among the growing competition in the online marketplace.
  • When you are trying to scale up your business revenue. Social media ads can directly pop up in your customer’s feeds. With the right content and creative call-to-actions, you’ll easily boost your conversion rates in no time. Still, you have to remember that not all customers may be present on social media platforms. Today’s paid search ads now feature shopping ads, which present a catalog of products on top of the search engine results pages. This functionality enables users to easily view, compare, and check product specifications and prices of your brand, thus, can aid in persuading your consumers to buy your products.
  • When you are globalizing your products/services. Numerous people all over the world are using popular social networking sites. In fact, most of today’s famed influencers started on these platforms. But then again, not all countries are avid social media users. So if you want to globalize your products/services, you can also try search ads for your campaign. Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines are utilized all over the globe, and people use them for a variety of personal and professional reasons which increases your chances of improving your brand’s worldwide recognition.

Quick tips for optimizing your ads

Once you launch your ads, the campaign efforts don’t stop there. You need to learn how to optimize your search ads and social media ads, for them to effectively reach all the right people and increase conversion rates.

Achieve a better PPC campaign this year by trying these tips for search and social media ad optimization:

Tips for search ads optimization

  • Manage your keywords. Search ads are definitely affected by the keywords that you use. Target the right customers with the right keywords by checking your analytics every now and then. Evaluate your keyword’s performance and adjust your ad content based on the keywords with the most impressions or conversions.
  • Skip the unnecessary metrics. You may have different kinds of data at your disposal at this moment. But do you really need them all? Go back to your objectives, and focus only on the metrics that are necessary to meet your goals. Don’t let irrelevant data confuse you.
  • Optimize your website. Through your search ads, people will be able to find what they are looking for and lead them to explore your website. However, a disorganized website with poor loading speed will surely drive potential customers away. Before you invest a lot in your ads, make sure first that your website is in good working condition.

Tips for social media ads optimization

  • Review your audience’s demographics. Social media ads may reach different audiences based on time, location, interests, or even age. This is why it is essential to check on your audience’s demographics every now and then. It can help you update your ads and reach more customers that you never expected to be interested in your business.
  • Create compelling content. There is lots of highly-creative content in social media, to the point that platforms never really run out of viral content. If you don’t want potential customers to just browse past your social media ads, you need to create relevant and eye-catching content. Utilize the social media features for each platform, and invest in digital editing tools.
  • Check out the latest trends. Social media platforms release updated features every year, and social channels will have different trending topics. Your social media ads would be affected by these updates, so you have to be on the lookout for them. Incorporate these changes into your ads, and ensure they are relevant to your target audience.

Key takeaways

A great PPC campaign is not complete without a well-chosen ad. Search ads and social media ads both have their advantages, and they can aid in your successful PPC management efforts. In addition to that, take note of the following key insights:

  • Compute your advertising budget. Before spending money on any PPC campaign, it is crucial to check how much you can spend. Do not ruin your other campaign budgets on advertising alone. There are other campaigns that you’ll be needing your money for.
  • Use your objectives to guide you. Your objectives are like your compass. They guide you in picking the best channel. You wouldn’t want to pick an ad platform that doesn’t have the features to get your advertising content across to audiences.
  • Refrain from deciding based on platform popularity. Yes, TikTok and Facebook are popular platforms. But is your audience even on these platforms? Don’t waste your time launching ads at channels where your target customers will miss them.

Still undecided over which ads would best suit your upcoming PPC campaign? We know you want ads that are worth your time and money. We’ll be glad to help you pick the most efficient ad platform for your business. Leave us a message on Facebook, X, or LinkedIn.

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