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Paid Media 13 min read

Choosing the Best Paid Media Marketing Channel for Your Business

Ayesha Renyard photo

Written by Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 08 Sep 2021

Here’s a million-dollar question: 

What is the best paid media marketing channel out there?

We get asked that question a lot. And we have to say, it’s a tough one to answer. Why? 

Because it depends.

With that said, it is possible to determine which paid media channel is right for your business. You just have to figure out your campaign objective first. So let’s figure out both together. 

First, we will walk you through five key considerations to determine your campaign objective. Then we’ll introduce you to the top paid media marketing channels. So by the end of this article—no matter what business you’re marketing—you can answer that million-dollar question. 

How to Define Your Campaign Objective

1. Think about what you sell (and how you can best sell it)

You know what you’re selling—so this one’s pretty easy. But we encourage you to dig into it through a marketing lens. How would you showcase its value to potential customers? And what type of content would best support this? 

For example, if you owned a restaurant, your marketing would likely center around static visual content. (You eat with your eyes first!)

Whereas, if you sold a cleaning product, a static image probably isn’t enough. Instead, it may be worth creating a video demonstrating the product in action. 

Take your time thinking this one through. Consider it one piece of the decision-making pie.


2. Know who your target audience is

Successful marketing always boils down to knowing your target audience. 

So spend some time developing a buyer persona—a research-based profile that depicts your ideal customer. You’ll want to get into the nitty-gritty here. While it’s most important to identify their problems and what they’re looking for, you also need to consider their demographic information, lifestyle, habits, and more. Check out this blog post on how to create buyer personas for more details. 

Buyer persona starter questions.

Source: Algorithmic Global

Particularly important for this discussion is understanding where your target audience hangs out online. For example, if you’re a software company selling cyber security to other businesses, then LinkedIn is an appropriate social media platform to advertise on. Whereas, if you’re an e-commerce company selling light-up shoes to teens, you’re probably better off advertising on Instagram or TikTok

3. Identify your business goals

Tell me—are you a startup trying to make a name for yourself? A well-established company looking to increase sales? A well-established company undergoing a rebrand?

 In other words, what’s your motive? What do you want to get out of your advertising? 

Understanding these questions is essential for picking the right paid media channel. Some platforms work wonders for top-of-funnel activities, like building brand awareness. But if you’re looking for cold, hard conversions, they may not be the best channel for reaching your goals.

To dig up these answers, we recommend referring to the marketing funnel. As you may know, prospects move through the funnel to convert. Typically, we break down the marketing funnel into three stages:  

  • Top of funnel (TOFU): This is the discovery stage. The goal is to raise awareness of your customers’ problems and introduce your product as the solution to their problems. 
  • Middle of funnel (MOFU): This is often referred to as the consideration stage. At this point, prospects have shown interest in your product or service and are beginning to decide if it’s right for them. 
  • Bottom of funnel (BOFU): This is the action stage. Customers have decided that they can’t live without your light-up sneakers—and are ready to take the plunge. 

Targeting audiences using the bottom of the funnel approach.

Source: Intellitonic 

So, where does your audience sit in the marketing funnel? Do they know your brand? Is the first order of business establishing brand awareness— or sealing the deal? 

Don’t worry. Every marketing campaign can have different goals. So if you’re focused on TOFU activity today, you’re setting yourself up for BOFU activity tomorrow. (Cha-ching!)

4. Understand your competitors’ strategies

It’s always important to keep an eye on your competitors—even when picking a paid media marketing channel. 

There are two routes you can go: 

First, you could choose the same channels they’re using—and beat them at their own game. They may have already done the research and know which channels have a high ROI in your industry, so why not take advantage of their existing market?

How? It could simply mean creating better content. Or it may require a bigger budget. For example, if they’re using search ads, you can try outbidding them on specific keywords. 

The alternative is advertising where they are not. These less popular channels could be an opportunity or a challenge—that’s something for you to explore. But for those with a smaller budget, this route is definitely worth scoping out. (Plus, it could end up being highly rewarding). 

5. Nail down a budget

Lastly, you need to nail down a budget—and stick to it. Yes, it’s essential to reach your business goals, but you need to do it profitably. You need to advertise within your means.

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, a good rule of thumb is dedicating 7 to 8 percent of your gross revenue to marketing and advertising. 

But remember, this number is reflective of all marketing. According to this Marketo article, 20-30% of this should go to paid advertising. 

This sounds like a lot of number-crunching, but let us tell you, there’s no right answer. If the number you come out with is different than your neighbor’s, that’s totally normal. Everyone’s budget can be different. 

What do small businesses spend on advertising annually?

Source: The Manifest

For some businesses, this number could be in the thousands. 

For others, it could be in the millions. 

If you’ve got a smaller budget, don’t worry! It doesn’t mean you can’t use certain paid media channels. You just need to be more strategic in stretching your dollar. (And that’s where we can help!)

3 Top Paid Media Channels You Should Consider

With your campaign objective in mind, let’s start comparing some paid media channels, shall we? Today we’re introducing you to three top paid media channels, when you should use them, and how they can fit into your budget. 

1. Social Media Ads

If your goal is to build brand awareness and widen your audience reach—and your content is highly visual—then social media platforms are great options for you. 

Here are the three platforms that should be on your radar: 

Facebook Ads: Aside from Google Ads, Facebook Ads is the most popular advertising platform. Why? It offers many different advertising opportunities across Facebook and Instagram, has impressive targeting capabilities, and is relatively inexpensive. According to Wordstream, the average cost-per-click across industries is $1.72.

Facebook advertising benchmarks average cost per click.

Source: Wordstream 

Plus, it has a huge user base. So you can guarantee that your ad will be seen by many.

If your audience hangs out on these channels, and are often on their mobile devices, then it’s worth dedicating some of your ad budget towards a Facebook Ads campaign. 

LinkedIn Ads: LinkedIn is certainly more niche than Facebook. But if you’re in B2B marketing, this is the platform for you. You can find some big players and decision-makers on LinkedIn. 

While the average cost-per-click (CPC) seems to hover between $0.50 and $3 for Facebook ads, LinkedIn’s average CPC is over $5. With that said, you need to consider your ROI. If you’re spending five bucks for a click, but a conversion is worth more than that, then it’s absolutely worth it.

TikTok For Business: TikTok is another niche platform, but again, it’s worth choosing if your target audience lives here. According to this Hootsuite stat, in the United States, roughly 48% of users are aged 18-29. Is your target audience within this age group?

TikTok advertising is pretty new, which is a good and bad thing. On the one hand, there’s less competition on this platform. On the other hand, this makes it expensive. In fact, for some types of ads, it could cost tens of thousands. 

Type of ads with price

Source: Voluum

If TikTok is where your audience is, but your budget doesn’t support advertising on it, consider creating organic content or working with an influencer

2. Search Ads

Search ads work well for any part of the funnel. If your goals line up with the top of the funnel, you can target informational search queries. (“Are light-up sneakers cool?”) Or, if you’re targeting a BOFU audience, then you can target transactional queries. (“Where can I buy light-up sneakers.) If you’d like to learn more about targeting search intent, check out this post

Plus, search ads are super easy to create. All you need to do is create is some copy!

Sound like it aligns with your campaign objective? Here’s our top recommendation: 

Google Ads: Google owns 70% of the search market share. For many users, it’s their go-to search engine. Because of the potential visibility—and an average return of 200%—its ad space is sought after by advertisers. 

The average CPC across industries is $1 to 2, but take that stat with a grain of salt. Depending on the industry and how competitive the keyword bidding is, a click could cost way more. 

 The top 20 keyword categories.

Source: Wordstream

If you planned on targeting the keyword categories above—and feel like your dreams are totally crushed due to a limited budget—don’t sweat it. At least, not yet. 

Improving your ad quality score can reduce your cost-per-click and cost-per-conversion. Yes, Google will reward you for creating a positive experience for their users. 

Want to hear a bonus? As of 2018, your text ads could also show up on relevant Youtube search queries. Because of the soaring popularity of video content, this creates a ton of exposure. We’ll take it!

3. Display Ads

With the rise of ad blockers, some advertisers worry that display ads are fizzling out. While this could be true in the future, they’re still a strong option for your paid media campaign today—especially if you’re looking for a budget-friendly channel.

Display ads are eye-catching visual ads found on websites—and are suitable for all stages of the funnel. You could keep the content generic and use them for TOFU marketing. Or, you can retarget visitors with specific display ads, making them a perfect option for a BOFU campaign. 

Intrigued? Here are two options to scope out: 

Facebook Audience Network: While Facebook Ads will serve up display ads to your audience, we also recommend checking out the Audience Network: an off-Facebook, in-app advertising network for mobile apps. You can deliver content to prospects using mobile sites and apps other than Facebook, extending your reach beyond the platform. (Perfect for TOFU marketing!)

Why do we like it? It costs much, much less than your average Facebook ad. Plus, ads are hard to miss in-app on a mobile screen. 

CPC by placement.

Source: AdEspresso

Google Display Network: Like Facebook’s Audience Network, Google’s Display Network is a very affordable choice. While the average CPC for search ads is $2.69, on the display network is $0.63. 

Chart of average cost per click in AdWords

Source: Wordstream 

If your campaign aligns better with BOFU marketing, then you should look into its retargeting capabilities. All you need to do is add a piece of code to your website to track visitors’ activity. Then, Google will send them targeted ads according to their activity. 

Ready to Answer That Million-Dollar Question?

Now that you’ve defined your campaign objective and gotten to know your options, we have to ask: Which paid media channel is best for your business? 

Is it: 

A) Social media ads

B) Search ads

C) Display ads

D) All of the above

If you’re still unsure of the answer, use one of your lifelines—phone a friend. We’re always here for you if you need a second opinion. 

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Ayesha Renyard photo

Ayesha Renyard

Content Writer @ Galactic Fed