Business owners usually come to us with this question because they don't know where they should put their money for the best return. Our question then becomes, what do you want to achieve with this budget? To figure out what will work best for your business objective, first take a look at the mindset your prospects are in on each platform.
SOCIAL MEDIA ADVERTISING
Consumers on social media are rarely in a purchasing mindset, they are more so in 'social mode', checking on what their friends are up to, what they are reading, and what latest news pertains to their social circle. Imagine yourself being the user at that point in time, would you be likely to click on an ad selling shoes or other products? Even if you are intrigued, you will likely click through to see what the brand is about, decide that 'oh that's cool, but not right now' and return to your social scrolling activity.
In this area you are usually at the beginning of the marketing adoption process, where the ad will make you aware of the brand but you aren't in the market to make a purchase yet.
When you are on a search engine, you are typing in searches to find something you are interested in or are looking to purchase - you are already halfway down the marketing path to 'adoption'. You want to see what brands are offering the products and services you are looking for, and will likely stay on the pages a bit longer to things out (given the landing page isn't a total fail.)
Knowing the state of mind of the consumer in these two environments should reveal that each platform serves a different purpose. We would recommend social media advertising as your main vehicle to generate initial brand awareness, since consumers need to see your brand a few times before they make a purchase.
In the search engine scenario, you would arguably gain more conversions in the form of sales transactions, since the consumer is in the market and looking to make a purchase.* Of course, whether or not a conversion happens depends on your website and landing page experience and a whole other set of factors that work together AFTER the prospect lands on your page.
So in conclusion, if you are looking to generate awareness for your brand, we would recommend social media advertising. If you are looking to capture an in-market audience searching to options to buy, we would recommend Google Search campaigns. There are options on Adwords such as display campaigns that will also help to generate awareness, but that's enough content for a separate post altogether and we will cover this at a later date.
Still don't know how to choose? Our strategy consultants are here to help. We want better marketing, so let us help you. Contact us today with your questions.
*Given you are using a Search campaign. A display campaign targeting affinity audiences would be less likely to convert.