Maximize Customers By Integrating Search and Social Advertising

We’ve long known that last-click attribution is a flawed model. It ignores the nuances of the customer journey, where consumers interact with brands and products at multiple touchpoints on their way to converting. Perhaps more important to marketers than misunderstanding, last-click attribution can lead to wasted ad spend.

Understanding this multi-channel reality is a first step in not just limiting waste, but increasing revenue at a higher rate. The next step is understanding which channels in the existing environment are performing at the highest level. The third step is understanding how those high-performing channels influence each other in order to maximize impact.

The Multi-Channel Reality

We know the path to conversion isn’t linear. Consumers are interacting with brands and products on a constant basis. From searching on their digital devices to out-of-home signage, traditional TV, and much, much more, consumers are gaining interest, researching, and eventually purchasing products. All of these channels are responsible for pushing the consumer toward a final purchase, but which channels carry the most weight in today’s digital-first environment?

When it comes to inspiring consumers to make a purchase, search and social are the two most important channels in marketing. That conclusion lies in the complementary ways that consumers use the two channels.


Consumers use search to find information, ask questions, and solve problems. Search facilitates a connection between the consumer who has the problem and the brand that offers a solution.

For example, a consumer may search for “burgundy sweater womens”. A brand that offers women’s burgundy sweaters can purchase the keywords in the search query as a way to advertise their specific solution. In this example, the consumer finds value in the brand’s burgundy sweater offering, and the brand finds value in the consumer’s seeming intent to purchase — a win-win that makes search an important foundational tactic.


Consumers have traditionally used social channels to share content and information. Demographics, interests, behavior, and more – social media gives marketers a wealth of consumer information. This allows marketers to target social media users with highly tailored ads. Unlike search, however, consumers often use social channels for entertainment, which isn’t always a high-intent environment.

According to Statista, there will be 2.7 billion social media users worldwide in 2019. The ability to connect with that many consumers, combined with the targeting capabilities makes social a high-potential tactic.

Search and Social

The pure volume of user engagement on both channels make them worthy of our attention as marketers. But it’s when we consider their potential as complementary strategies that we get excited.

Consumers are using social media, and especially Facebook, to discover. While they aren’t necessarily actively looking to make a purchase, they are present and engaged. Marketers are able to use the advanced targeting capabilities of the platform to get brand messaging in front of a consumer more likely to engage with their brand. This could inspire the consumer to visit the brand website and even make a purchase. According to a Curulate Consumer Survey, 11 percent of U.S. consumers have immediately purchased a product online after seeing it in a brand’s social media post.

But more likely than that, the consumer will continue their path to purchase elsewhere. At some point, that path is likely to go through search. Facebook has been researching the impact of Facebook-served ads on search behavior since 2015, when the Facebook Marketing Science team concluded:

Facebook ad campaigns can help decrease cost-per-click, increase click-through rates and return-on-ad spend for paid search advertising, and increase traffic volumes to advertisers end-sites.

A more recent analysis gives even more clarity to this effect. The analysis compared search-referred site visits from two groups: one that had been exposed to a Facebook ad prior, and one that hadn’t.

On average, Facebook ads were responsible for 19% more organic search-referred site visits and 10% more for paid search-referred visits vs. when people didn’t see Facebook ads.

Not only are Facebook ads having a positive effect on site visits, the combination of both tactics is bringing more motivated visitors to brand sites. The same analysis concluded that 50 percent of search-referred site visits driven by Facebook ads led to an incremental action on the site.

How To Get Get Started Today

First, it’s important to assess your current approach to each channel:

  • Do you have different goals for each channel, or is their alignment between your goals for Google Ads campaigns and your Facebook campaigns?
  • Are your search campaigns using completely different targeting, messaging and campaign flights than your social campaigns?
  • Are you spending significantly more budget in one channel versus the other channel?
  • How are you evaluating performance for each channel, or your digital advertising ROI in general?

Once you’ve established a clearer picture of how each channel is working (and not working) for your brand and business, you can begin to find alignment between the two.

A good next step is to ensure you’re leveraging retargeting programs on both channels to re-engage with potential customers in your target audience who have already had some level of interaction with your brand, and are more likely to be lower-funnel.

For Google specifically, take advantage of your Google Remarketing Lists and make sure you’re dedicating budget to RLSA (Retargeting Lists for Search Ads) campaigns. For Facebook specifically, you can tap into existing search query data as a means for creating custom Facebook audiences tailored to users who have researched your products and services using a search engine.

Both of these efforts allow you to focus your campaign targeting more effectively, and make your advertising dollars go further while increasing conversions along the way.

From a performance measurement standpoint, there are a number tools and platforms that allow you to evaluate search and social performance together, so it’s important to evaluate which one works best for you.

At Location3, we’ve been integrating performance metrics for search and social advertising in our own LOCALACT platform and will be releasing version 3.0 with even more features and updates in Spring 2019. Whether you’re running large-scale, national or branded campaigns, or focused on executing hyper-local customer acquisition campaigns, it’s important that you not limit your efforts to a single channel or tactic.

Understanding how an integrated approach to search and social advertising impacts each phase of the consumer journey can help you reach and convert more customers and produce significant increases in ROI for your business.

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