Social vs. Search: Which is a better fit for your advertising dollar?

May 10, 2016

For the past 10 years, Google Pay Per Click (PPC) and display advertising (graphic ads displayed on websites) have dominated digital advertising budgets — and rightfully so, as over 3.5 billion searches are performed each day on Google (see them all in real time here). But how we use the Internet changes constantly and the devices we currently use have shifted our digital experiences and expectations as people spend more time within social media environments. As a result, companies hoping to get and stay ahead of the competition are learning the importance of social media advertising and evaluating how it fits within their online advertising strategy.

At BroadBased, many of our client social media advertising campaigns have evolved into pivotal tools for lead generation, surpassing traditional Google PPC efforts in the form of click through. Social media’s advanced targeting capabilities (and considerably lower cost of acquisition) are proving to be a great fit for many of our retail and services clients. Is social media advertising right for you? That depends on your goals.

The chicken or the egg? Intent or awareness?

Social Advertising

In social media, the platform is used to target an audience and place a product or service directly in front of them, raising awareness and offering an opportunity for engagement that eventually leads to conversion.



This Facebook campaign, run the month of April for one of our healthcare clients, resulted in 865 clicks to their website. Clicks to their Adwords campaign over the same period were 239.

Social advertising really shines for local business-to-consumer companies like physician offices, service companies and retail. We’re able to accurately target audiences based on geography, age, gender and a multitude of lifestyle data. Remarketing is also available, allowing you to “follow” your website visitors as they continue to browse their social networks.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords, on the other hand, is extremely effective at driving traffic when users perform textual searches for a product or service and then click on ads that are served up with the search results. With global ad revenues just shy of $60 billion in 2015, PPC is clearly not going away any time soon.

For companies offering business-to-business products and services, Google Adwords is especially successful in generating leads because results match the keyword query and the user’s intent. We’ve also seen Google Adwords perform as a key lead-generation tool for consumer products with a national reach, and it is particularly effective with our higher-education clients.

What’s unclear is whether Google Adwords still offers the highest return on investment. The cost of keywords has skyrocketed and, with recent changes to Google’s results page layout, campaigns only get more expensive as more competitors enter the space.

Looks like we have a clear winner in Social Media, where do I sign?

There’s no question that social media offers clear advantages over traditional search strategies, but as is the case with most marketing strategies, balance is key and every strategy is unique. For some brands, search may already be a vital lead-generation tool and social media can help build a wider audience. For others, search may be a budget-sink and social media is a better fit to laser-target the perfect customer. Either way, BroadBased has the tools and expertise to help you make the right call. Contact our EVP Chris Ramaglia to talk strategy.

Jan Hirabayashi

Jan Hirabayashi

Managing Partner

Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's managing partner and lead marketing strategist.