AdWords PPC Campaigns Beat Out Social Media Ads for Service Businesses

When business owners decide to use online marketing to get the word out about their services and offerings, they soon find out how many options there are, from ad networks and social to display ads and email marketing. It can be overwhelming, especially when you’re busy building a business.

When you consider how often most business people hear pitches for internet services, the confusion is easy to understand.  We focus a lot on organic optimization for service companies at Online Image®, and often pair these services with paid ad campaigns on search engines for peak effectiveness.

Lately, we’re hearing more and more about paid ads on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. In 2014, advertisers spent $49.45 billion buying online ads and services.  Social media spending made up about 8 percent of that and is expected to keep growing. These ads could overtake search engine spending by 2020, according to research by the Interactive Advertising Bureau.

ad revenue growth from BI IntelligenceWhile ads on social media can be an important part of a branding strategy for some businesses, they may not be enough to push prospects down the funnel and toward a purchase, particularly for home services or financial services companies.

Facebook Creates Intent, but Google Fulfills Needs

I think about how I use social media to learn about the lives of my friends and to find interesting articles and images. It’s about fun, discovery and social connection. I think most people use it the way I do, and they don’t want to be interrupted with anything too serious.

For more important issues such as insurance, retirement planning, plumbing, or even visits to the doctor or dentist, I am much more likely to turn to Google. Even if have a trusted service provider in mind, I use a search engine such as Google to find addresses, listings and reviews.

Facebook and Twitter are for browsing and entertainment, and search engines are for finding information and solving problems. The idea makes sense, and our experience in the internet marketing industry confirms it.

The Search Engine Marketing Difference

So what does that mean for service businesses? The answer is pretty simple. If you want to build brand awareness, social ads may be a good decision. impressionsThese occur any time a user sees your site in the search links or sees your ad. and clicks can be cheaper, and ad targeting for demographics, interests and more isn’t bad. But if you want conversionsWhen a visitor does what you want them to on your page, that’s a conversion. You can set any conversion goal, but common ones are phone calls, form submittal, newsletter signups and purchases. for your insurance, financial or home services business, search ads are going to be more effective.

With pay-per-click (PPCPay-per-click ads incur charges whenever users click on them, and their cost is determined during a bidding process. In Google Adwords, for example, these ads show up when users search for relevant keyword phrases.) ads on Google AdwordsGoogle’s paid ads program for display and PPC (pay per click) advertising., we can target your customers just as well as Facebook can, and your ads can show up on search results page at just the moment searchers need your services. Retargeting those interested customers is easy when you choose campaigns that use the massive Google Display network. That way, you can make sure prospects see your business almost anywhere they go online, and even within apps.

In a nutshell, Facebook creates intent among potential customers by keeping your name in their feed and on their minds. Google fulfills customer’s intentions instead by answering questions and helping them find precisely what they need.

Isn’t SEO Enough to Get Found Online?

Some of our clients choose to go with only our organic search engine optimization (SEO) services, and others opt for PPC alone. However, we have seen great success when they use PPC and SEO together. SEO takes time, and PPC can make up the difference by making sure your name gets on the front page of search results.


Social media can be a good tool for building awareness when people who are looking to be entertained, but they use search engines when they’re ready to make a purchase. That means focusing on organic search, AdWords and other PPC formats is a much better use of your marketing budget when it comes to generating leads and converting prospects.