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Gone are the days where ad space was strictly measured in page sizes and ink colors. Now you can end up anywhere: the right corner of Facebook, the top page of Google, the first 10 seconds of a YouTube video. While the options are limitless, that may make them seem a little overwhelming. If you’re not sure whether you should go for Google or stick to social media for your ad campaigns, here’s a roundup of their benefits and side effects.
Google stands as the most popular search engine to make a dent in the internet, growing with such traction as to become the face of searching for information itself: “Just Google it.” In the advertising realm, Google has become interchangeable with paid searching, with AdWords at the helm of its influence.
AdWords gives you the option to answer the questions that people are asking; posing your website as the solution. The core part of it is the seven ads lining the top and bottom of the first page of Google. It operates on a keyword selection basis to match a query with your keywords.
The process works like this: you bid on terms related to your services, with a range of factors contributing to how much you pay and where you rank, including your initial bid, your quality score and the type of service you’re selecting. Within seconds, Google conducts an auction that synthesizes thousands of keywords and then determines where you appear.
Beyond the search network, Google also harbors a wide-reaching display network that lets ads appear on YouTube videos, Google partner websites, Google shopping and on the websites people visit after they see yours. The options spread out to all corners of the internet, and you can handpick where you want your campaign to extend.
Google reaches 90% of the internet’s users – that’s 2.7 billion people. Between its search and display networks, it’s safe to say a large portion of the advertisements come from Google. That means that no matter what, AdWords will get you exposure. Google’s power rests in its popularity, with 3.5 billion searches happening every day, and 40 thousand every second.
AdWords effects are also instant: your campaign can go live as soon as you finalize it. If your goal is Google, then AdWords is more accessible than Search Engine Optimization (SEO), which is the more organic method of carving a first-page-niche. Plus, your account can be created quickly: a bare-faced campaign can be made in a short period of time, so long as you know your budget, have done your keyword research and written compelling copy.
The benefit also rests in its purpose – Google’s audience actually intends to convert. You’re not sprawling about on the pages of magazines, where people are only aiming to catch up on celebrity gossip or glaze over fashion editorials.
That intention here is really important. If someone is looking up where to buy customizable cakes, then the first step of an advertisement campaign – convincing someone that they need what you’re offering – is already done. The next part depends on how engaging your ad is, where you’re listed and a host of other factors.
AdWords also lets you intensely customize your ads. Google no longer sports ads that feature a bold headline coupled with some black text shuffled into a small box. Now, you can do anything from adding a map, supplemental links, user reviews, images, contact information and more.
And the good news is that most people do more than just look. According to Google, advertisers make $2 for every $1 spent. That means conversions are double your input.
Moreover, you get to decide who specifically sees your ads. Maybe you own a local bakery and only want people within a certain radius of your shop to search you. You can do that. Or you only want people of a certain age, gender, or income. Or people whose browser histories include specific websites. The beauty of it is that you can be as broad or as specific as you want with your targeting.
With the display network, you can have your website appear on people who have expressed similar interests to your brand. With remarketing, a user can leave your website and then see your ad on the websites they visit after. This is also important if you’re a small business, because when people see you in many places online, they’re going to assume you’re a prominent company with enough resources to create a strong online image.
Ultimately, with AdWords, there’s no long-term contract, so it’s perfect for any commitment-phobes. Your budget can be as small as $1. You have full control over when your ads run and how long they run for, and can easily measure the results with the available analytics.
As with any extensive ad campaign, you’re going to need experience, or it’s going to cost you. AdWords is a long-term investment of both your time and money. It takes time to learn how to navigate the actual program, and even longer to understand the details around what make a strong campaign.
You need to conduct a thorough keyword analysis before, and have a proper understanding of the people you’re marketing to. You’re going to need some killer ad copy, and might have to keep testing different variations of it before you find your ideal fit. If your keywords are too broad, you might be contending against larger companies. That means small businesses need to focus on more specific keywords gathered from Google analytics data.
It’s not just about the keywords that you select, though, but the ones you want funneled out. For example, if someone searches for your keywords and references a specific city while you own one local branch, you don’t want your business to appear to them. That extra information is dubbed a negative keyword, and not properly defining yours will make your ads show to the wrong users.
AdWords operates on a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) basis, meaning that Google charges you every time someone clicks on your ad, regardless of whether or not they made a conversion. That means you can end up spending money on clicks that didn’t yield any revenue.
Plus, the more competitive your industry, the more money you pay for your clicks. For example, the financial sector has one of the highest PPC rates. If you don’t have the budget to compete with the professionals, you’ll be downgraded to Google’s lower pages.
Your positioning on AdWords is impacted by more than just the numbers, though. Google also calculates your click-through rate, which is the amount of clicks on your ads compared to its views. It studies your ad text to verify that it’s relevant and well-written. It also considers your landing pages, which are the specific pages that your ads are supposed to land on.
All this factors into how much you pay. Not mastering these things can bring down your ad’s positioning and bring up how much you’re paying.
Whether it’s Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter, social media eats up a large chunk of the internet (and our time), and for good reason. The options offered on these platforms cannot be discounted: from communicating with long distance friends, looking up recipes and posting prom pictures. Within that network comes an opportunity for connecting like never before.
Social media advertising can look like many things. Facebook lets you advertise on its newsfeed, the right hand side of its news page and its log out page. Instagram adds sponsored posts on its feed and in the form of videos breaking up its stories. Twitter places posts in between other tweets. Snapchat sponsors stories. Pinterest promotes pins.
In 2017, Facebook’s ad revenue reached a whopping $9.16 billion. Instagram followed with $4.10 billion and Twitter $489 million. While Facebook has the highest number of active monthly users, that doesn’t mean that the other platforms should be discounted.
More than 2.8 billion have some form of a social media account. That’s a lot of potential customers. Given how often people scroll through their feeds, you’ll at the very least develop brand awareness, lead generation and gain more impressions than you would on Google. Social media advertising also follows the PPC model, so you won’t be relentlessly spending on a campaign that no one is clicking. According to Ad Espresso, companies pay $.28 on average for each click, making it an affordable endeavor for a small business.
You can also get strikingly specific when targeting your audience. Social media networks collect all our data and use it to create a personality profile that’s almost eerie in accuracy. If you’re marketing to a specific demographic, you can set your ad to go live to only them. Facebook allows you to get as detailed as you desire – if you want 32-year-old divorced soccer moms who like yoga and aspire to travel to India, you’ve got it. Florida State University alumni who play basketball every Saturday and go to the church every Sunday? Done. You can also create lookalike audiences by uploading your customer information for Facebook to filter out and match users to your ads.
Moreover, each social media platform has a personality as unique and specific as the people using them. It’s not just about what you can physically do with the platforms, but what the underlying mechanisms mean. Pinterest tends to attract the designers, the cooks and the creatives. Tumblr and Instagram have a huge photography base. LinkedIn is built for professional exposure. Depending on your audience, you can easily curate your campaign to run on a specific network. If you find the amount of social media advertising options to be daunting, don’t. With so much variation comes so much potential. The ads are powerfully visual and blend in with other elements of a newsfeed so you don’t even notice you’re seeing an ad.
Another benefit that comes with social media is the potential for influencer marketing. We see it all the time: An Instagram model with a loyal following posting about skin tea, a fitness fanatic recommending protein powder. People care about what these influencers have to say, and if what they have to say is about you, you’ll find a steady stream of visitors on your site and purchasing your products.
At the end of the day, other channels require more time to generate exposure. With social media campaigns, the results are instant. you don’t have to go through content marketing or wait for someone to search your keywords. If you set your ad to appear to 20,000 people, then your ad will appear to 20,000 people. And most importantly, nearly everyone you know has some form of a social media account. Take advantage of that audience.
One of the most fundamental differences between social media and other venues such as Google is that people aren’t necessarily active with the intent to convert. That means that you can launch an engaging, visually appealing campaign and see no clicks because people simply aren’t on it to buy. The high impressions don’t necessarily denote high conversions.
If you don’t carefully target your audience, you might find that you’re not getting the attention you seek. Since there are so many different people online, it can be toxic to not know who to target. You could read your audience incorrectly, or you could say the wrong thing and be permanently defined by it.
Social media is crowded with promoted posts – meaning it’s not meant for the claustrophobic campaigner. You have to know how to make your content stand out, and unfortunately, pretty pictures might not be enough.
You’ll have to get creative with how you get your name out there. You can directly engage your followers with deals and prizes, or find an influencer to do it for you. Adweek says that 88% of businesses market with social media, so if you can’t effectively do this yourself, you may have to hire someone to curate your campaign for you.
The point of the matter is that it doesn’t matter how social media savvy you are: this takes work. There are so many details that factor into a successful campaign, and it takes time and testing to master them.
You will have to dedicate a significant portion of your energy to replying to people, managing your profiles and posting engaging content. Your profiles themselves must both look and sound good, because that’s what people will be judging you off of.
The dichotomy between social media and Google is harsh. On the one hand, you have Google. Fast, efficient and checked by people from all over the world. Then there’s social media; with so many networks, functions and active people. Ultimately, where you choose to send your funds to depends on the type of business you own, the type of audience you want, and the type of work you’re willing to do.
Google is great at providing instant results, with higher conversions and more click-through-rates. The fact that people are on it to make a purchase will help your campaign immensely.
Social media isn’t as strong in that regard, but it’s great for lead generation, given how often people are online. With both tools you’ll have to dedicate time to understand their uses, and target your specific audience.
Fortunately, given that you can advertised on both for under $5, it’s possible to work with both platforms. Put your name out there on multiple sites to see where you get the most hits, and stick with that.