PPC VS Social Media Marketing: Which is better?

It has been one of the most discussed topics within the digital marketing arena in recent years; the question of which one is more effective – PPC or Social Media Marketing?

Each obviously has its pros and cons and of course we at Click Guardian have something of a soft spot for PPC. Undeniably, Social Media Marketing has its strengths, and in a digital world where brand awareness is becoming increasingly important, Social Media may seem like the safest bet. However, PPC has the added benefit of a longer history and the positives are easier to find. So with that in mind, let’s dig into the debate.

PPC Marketing

Now, it’ll be hard for us not be a little biased with PPC. After all, we’re a company which primarily works within this arena. But there are certainly plenty of pros and cons and the trick is to maximise the pros and minimise the cons (simple isn’t it?).

The Pros

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of PPC marketing is the fact that the customer is searching for the product or service they require at the first instance of a search. But there are other benefits which are less obvious to a user. Firstly, it can be said that PPC allows you to measure and optimize data much more thoroughly than Social Media Marketing platforms. For example the keyword planner available in Google AdWords gives a user the best possible results for keywords – using a combination of factors to determine value. This is most often based on historic data which has been analysed over a period of time and utilises a number of algorithms which can change over time. If you’re a locksmith, you’ll be able to find the best keywords that are relevant and cost-effective for your industry.

Furthermore, the variety of reports available to a user provide a more thorough analysis of KPIs (or Key Performance Indicators). These reports allow users to really dig down into the data and compare their campaigns in more detail. If you have a particular ad or URL extension that just isn’t working then you’ll be able to make a comparison at campaign or ad group level and make a more informed choice.

The Cons

Now this is difficult to write but it has the ring of truth to it. PPC Marketing can be expensive BUT only if it is not managed and optimized correctly. It is important to get your keywords, ads, campaigns, extensions and landing pages all firing in unison. If you do then you can expect a quick and consistent ROI and a healthy profit margin for your business.

Alternatively, if you do not pay attention to the particulars (and the devil is always in the detail), then you can expect to notice your budget to diminish pretty rapidly. In the competitive world of PPC, mismanagement can be a death sentence for your advertising budget. It is also worth noting that one of the least understood threats to a PPC campaign is that of Click Fraud. Put simply, Click Fraud is when your ads are deliberately and consistently clicked on in order to diminish your ads visibility and drive up the cost to maintain a competitive position. This is usually performed via bots, pre-determined programmes and individuals. Unfortunately, this phenomena is becoming increasingly prevalent and it was estimated that around $16.7 Billion dollars (£12.3 Billion pounds) was lost to Click Fraud in 2017 alone. There are many predictions that this will grow to over $50 Billion dollars (£38 Billion pounds) in the next ten years. At present, advertisers are more reliant on third-party providers to secure their campaigns against the effects of Click Fraud.

Social Media Marketing

The importance of social media marketing has rapidly increased in recent years. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram offer businesses an opportunity to display their products and services in more direct and creative ways. With this in mind, it would be unwise to not utilise these opportunities, but once again there are the pros and the cons.

The Pros

In certain ways Social Media Marketing works in a similar way to PPC marketing. For example, Facebook Ads allows users to create ads and location and audience targeting, much like AdWords and Bing Ads allows you to. However, where Social Media Marketing really triumphs is the variability of tools advertisers can utilise to deliver their message. With video ads, vlogging, hashtags, image-centric ads and categorised targeting, advertisers can display services and products in more niche and creative ways. If you wanted to create a campaign with a variety of tools at your disposal, Social Media Marketing offers plenty of options and can create interest in ways which are sometimes beyond the remit of PPC Marketing, however it must be said that Social Media Marketing has a strong emphasis on creating awareness rather than creating action. For example, one of the more exciting developments within Social Media is the increasing use of viral marketing. This method can be a great way to increase brand or product awareness and it can give any business an edge.

It is also worth noting that, Social Media Marketing is generally less expensive than PPC Marketing and if money is limited it can provide a cheaper alternative – although it is not entirely without expense.

The Cons

Overall, Social Media Marketing is harder to optimise than PPC and as a consequence, ad campaigns are less effective. Neither Facebook, Twitter, Instagram nor LinkedIn offer the same level of analysis as Google AdWords or Bing Ads and consequently ad campaigns cannot be scrutinised to the same extent. ROI and keyword effectiveness cannot be measured as thoroughly. The level of reporting is not adequate enough to make a really informed choice. Sure, you can find these within Facebook Ads, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, but just don’t expect it to be at the same level as that found on PPC platforms.

It is also worth noting that, as a whole, Social Media Marketing is more time-consuming than PPC. Due to the constant need to update content, Social Media Marketing only truly works when you have the time and content to remain interesting and relevant for a potential customer or follower. With so much ‘noise’ in the Social Media arena it can be tricky to keep your content visible. Sure, you might have a knack for taking visually engaging images but that will only carry your business so far. Furthermore, Social Media Marketing cannot be automated in the same way as PPC Marketing. Primarily, content for Social Media Marketing is influenced by how ‘human’ it feels. It has to account for trends, language, creativity, taste, emotions. These things cannot be automated and are reliant upon human judgement. In short, you have to think more about your Social Media content and that can be a time-consuming and energetic task.

To Summarize

In a world which is becoming increasingly dependent upon digital marketing it would be unsurprising to argue that both PPC and Social Media Marketing bring a combined value to any campaign. Deciding to use both platforms as a way to generate both conversions and awareness is the ideal that many businesses should aim for.

Both PPC and Social Media Marketing have their strengths and weaknesses. It is important to stress that it is really dependent on what your goals are when deciding which one to focus upon. Unsurprisingly, we would argue that PPC has an edge on Social Media. This is due to the optimisation and analysis that PPC offers. The more information you have the more informed decision you can make – it simply empowers you more. That said, Social Media is much more creative than PPC and if you want to create a strong brand identity then marketing with Social Media provides the more options.

If this debate could be visualised Social Media Marketing would represent the old shop front: it’s designed to capture your attention with visuals and emotions and draw you in whilst PPC represents the shop aisles and customer service where you can make a more informed choice and can find the right option or product.

With Click Guardian, you can be assured of a reliable service which will protect your PPC advertising budget and identify fraudulent clicks effectively. With a free 14 day free trial and an easy-to-follow setup, Click Guardian is the perfect match for Google AdWords advertisers looking to keep their costs down and protect their PPC advertising campaigns.  Sign up today for a free 14 day trial of Click Guardian Pro.