Paid search advertising continues to be a powerful marketing channel, one in which customer intent is best demonstrated and where advertisers can attain impressive return on ad spend (ROAS) for their digital campaigns.

However, social advertising, namely Facebook, has rapidly evolved into an equally powerful advertising channel. In fact, Facebook is not just driving brand awareness for advertisers but also delivering direct response success on their platform as well.

As they do so, search budgets — the ultimate direct response vehicle — have come under scrutiny as a potential source of funding for social. In fact, the recent eMarketer study “Search and Social Platforms: How Facebook and Others Can Steal Dollars from Search” addressed this issue head on.

Social Spend Growing, Search Holding Steady

At Kenshoo we manage both search and social programs. We do see advertisers increasing their social investments at impressive rates, but this hasn’t resulted in decreases in search spending. Our recent mobile app trends report showed Facebook’s share of ad spend for mobile app installs up almost 70% in Q2, and our Q2 digital marketing snapshot showed overall ad spend on Social up 50% YOY. In Q2, search spending also grew at 10% YOY.  While not the magnitude of growth that social is experiencing, it’s still healthy and at a huge volume.

Overall, while CMOs expect their investment in traditional budgets to decline, they are growing their digital budgets as much as 13% in 2016 (eMarketer). Marketers are not necessarily looking to reallocate from search in order to fund social advertising. Instead, they are pulling from more traditional sources of spend including television and even more so from print advertising.

We think this is a good thing. We believe search and social BOTH deserve significant investment and therefore we don’t recommend a reallocation of dollars from search to social.  Why? Because both channels are mobile-friendly, user-driven, and drive powerful results at incredible scale.  

Search and Social Deliver

Search continues to deliver very strong performance which is not surprising given both the state-of-mind of searchers (and the direct-response nature of search) as well as search’s substantial reach. Per the eMarketer study, 79% of Internet users worldwide search to find relevant news and information.

That said, it’s clear that Facebook is a very strong contender as the #2 go-to source for news stories with 76% of Internet users reading their feed or clicking on interesting articles/videos. In fact, what this means is that Advertisers are losing share of voice if they are not on Facebook today.  

Digital Sources Currently Used by Internet Users Worldwide to Read Business, Lifestyle & News Stories, May 2016

Facebook’s investment in engaging ad types and placements such as Instagram and now Messenger are paying off. Social, which has originally been considered more of an awareness or consideration based channel, is now moving further down the purchase funnel into direct response advertising. Ad formats as Dynamic Ads, which can showcase specific products based on a user’s activity on an advertiser’s site, deliver big opportunities to drive increased conversions.    

Search and Social Are Complementary

Another reason to invest in BOTH search and social is that they can be complementary. In fact, in a study we did in conjunction with Facebook, we found that advertising on Facebook had a positive impact on a brand’s search marketing.

  • Increases Search Queries: When brands enjoy quality engagement on Facebook, they are also more likely to experience a significant lift in search queries, as high as 12.8% (particularly in mobile search queries).
  • Lowers Cost-per-Click (CPC): Audiences exposed to paid Facebook ads are more likely to search for cost-effective branded keywords and less likely to search for expensive unbranded keywords. As a result, search CPCs have been shown to improve by as much as 16%.
  • Improves Return on Ad Spend (ROAS): Based on the increases in both Conversion Rate and Average Order Value, paid search ROAS has been shown to increase by an average of 78%.
  • Increases Click-through Rate: The paid search group that was exposed to Facebook advertising had a 7% higher click-through rate than the search-only group; Facebook advertising was able to positively impact consumer awareness and perception of the brand.

What Our Advertisers Are Saying

Rob Johnson, of OrionCKB, has seen a lot of Search and Social campaigns, and often advises his clients on the benefits of coordinating both channels for improved results.

“If someone sees an ad for Red Boat Fish Sauce (totally made up) on Facebook and two days later that person searches for it, if you’ve moved budget off of that channel, you’ve missed an opportunity to display your ads at the top of a search page results. But your competitor who also sells it and is part of their inventory that appears in Google’s Product Listing Ads? They get the sale. And even if they don’t get the sale that day, your competitor (who advertises across channels) can now retarget that person on social to drive them to eventually purchase.


In this way, investing in both channels actually can help you reduce acquisition costs; you build a more qualified audience to retarget based off a user’s search behavior and/or what they’ve been exposed to on social.”

– Rob Johnson, Ad Operations Specialist, OrionCKB

Giuseppe Salvaggio, COO of Pervorm, similarly works across these channels, recently focusing on lead and acquisition strategies for a large client:

“Pervorm leverages Kenshoo in combining paid search and social advertising for a blue chip FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) client. Each paid channel has its own strengths…by combining the two the client has a powerful duo in place.


Right now Social brings in the majority of leads for this client. By leveraging converted user data from Social into Google search, Pervorm can create tailor made messaging and experiences for the consumer. As a result, overall campaign performance increased significantly during the last months.”

– Giuseppe Salvaggio, COO of Pervorm

The Future Cross-Channel

It’s no surprise that the mobile revolution is pushing Search marketers to look at future opportunities in messaging platforms, voice assistants, and in-app experiences. But leading marketers are not waiting, and they’re seeing the benefits of coordinated cross-channel marketing today.

At our Kenshoo, our Client Success Team would love to discuss which strategies will deliver the best results for your business…give us a call!