When to Use Social Media Ads vs Search Ads vs Geotargeting

When to Use Social Media Ads vs Search Ads vs Geotargeting

When to Use Social Media Ads vs Search Ads vs Geotargeting

Digital marketing encompasses a lot of ground and even more technical terms. We work hard to ensure you understand which type of digital advertising works best for your audience and your goals. As a digital marketing agency, we consider the pros and cons of social media ads vs search ads vs geotargeting ads when we’re creating a strategy for our clients. Even clients with plenty of marketing dollars to spread around need to understand the best use of those dollars for ROI. 

Social Media Ads

social media ads

These ads include Facebook and Instagram ads, as well as LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Snapchat, and TikTok. Targeting for these ads allows you to place your ads in front of people who would be most interested in your service or product. You can also set your ads up to optimize for specific objectives such as reach, video views, clicks to your website, or conversions. Social media ads harness great power in their ability to retarget to people who have visited your website.

Outside of retargeting ads, most social media ads are interrupting ads, similar to the traditional advertising forms of television, radio, and newspaper. Unlike traditional ads, social ads are shown to people the platform identifies as matching your target audience and most likely to respond to your objective. This target is not generally people who have indicated they are in the market for your product or service by searching for it.

You can hone your target audience by installing the specific social media’s pixel or tag and retargeting to people who visit your website.

Search Ads

search ads

What feels like a hundred years ago, every business made room in their budget for a yellow pages ad. Afterall, when someone opened the big book they were ready to make an appointment or purchase a product. Search ads, like Google Ads, offer a similar, although much more targeted and flexible ad approach. 

Search ads show when someone searches for the specific terms you’ve identified on a keyword list. Lucky for you, unlike ye old yellow pages, Google search allows you to add search terms to your list anytime you get ready. You can also view the exact terms people used to search when you ad showed up and create a list of negative keywords for which you don’t want to show up. (I.e. if you’re selling a high-end product, your customer won’t start their search with the word “cheap.”)

You’ll typically pay per click on these ads although those clicks may lead to your website or it may be a call directly to your business. 

Geotargeting Ads


Years ago one of our state’s top universities placed billboards in the hometown of their main competitor. Geotargeting is sorta like that, only better. In geotargeting you select a geographic target for your ads. It may be inside a commercial business, in the parking lot of that business, or in a certain mile radius of your chosen location. You may choose multiple locations that you’ve identified as places your target market is likely to go. It may be a competitor or a complimentary location. 

You use one of several available computer programs to create an invisible “fence” around the location you’ve chosen. When someone enters that area and opens their cell phone to peruse social media, search for something, or play a game, their GPS sends out a signal to start the ads you’ve scheduled. These ads show up in any of thousands of apps that allow ads and link back to a landing page with your website, phone number, and contact information. 

You pay per thousand impressions for these ads and can typically track when someone who sees your ad arrives in your location if you have a brick and mortar. 

Each of these ads offers you the opportunity to reach your customers at different times in the buying cycle. Your ad content should reflect whether you’re reaching people who don’t know you at all or who may be prepared to buy. Your target audience, business goals, and budget determines which of these options we suggest for your business. 

If you’d like to learn more about how to reach your business goals with more targeted, precise ads, we’re ready to learn more about your business and help you find the best tools for the job. Email Hilary now to set up your free consultation.