Developing quality ads to maximise paid social success

If you’re posting regularly on your social media accounts and not reaping any results, it might be time to try paid social media advertising.

These days, most social media networks offer a paid advertising option, allowing firms access to millions – or even billions – of users they could not otherwise reach. That’s not to say that organic social media isn’t important. In fact, it’s vital in enabling firms to engage with their followers, strengthen their brand image and build trust with their audience.

Paid digital advertising is simply a way for businesses to take their marketing one step further and achieve specific, measurable results. Whether your objective is to build brand recognition, drive traffic to your website or gather leads for your business, paid social can help you get there.

Before we get started, it’s important to note that social media advertising is undoubtedly trickier for companies working in regulated industries like financial advice and law, who face additional regulatory and compliance restraints. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done successfully. In fact, UK financial services companies are set to spend £2.46bn on digital advertising in 2022!

How does paid social work?

Paid social advertising is also known as cost per click (CPC) or pay per click (PPC) advertising. PPC is the pricing model most often used in social media advertising – essentially, advertisers will only pay when a user takes the desired action on their ad.

The trouble with paid social is that it’s a very popular way of reaching out to new audiences. This means that multiple advertisers from similar industries will be competing for the same target audience and/or keywords at any one time. So, how do advertising platforms decide whose ads to show? Well, it all begins with an auction.

Every single day, social media advertisers are bidding against each other in millions of online auctions for ad placements – i.e., the spaces available on social media platforms where ads appear. Each time your ad wins an auction, it will be ‘served’ to a user – this is called an impression.

There are a wide range of bidding methods on offer, depending on the platform in question. To keep things simple, we’ll limit ourselves to explaining two types of bidding: manual and automated.

Manual bidding

Advertisers employing a manual bidding strategy will decide on the amount they are willing to pay for each ad placement and enter this value manually when setting up their ad. This enables advertisers to better control what they are paying for each click – but it can mean missing out on placements if you’re underbidding.

Automated bidding

If you choose an automated bidding strategy for your social ads, the social media network will employ a complex algorithm to automatically decide what you will pay for each click. Each platform will use a slightly different algorithm to determine the winning ad, but will mainly base its decision on both your campaign goal (i.e., whether you’re looking for website visits, leads or conversions such as a purchase or newsletter signup), and the quality of your ads.

What is ad quality?

Most advertising platforms will give social media ads a quality score, which determines how likely they are to win bids for ad placements. The important thing to remember is that high ad quality mostly results in a lower cost per click, leading to more cost-effective campaigns that deliver a higher return on investment.

Each social platform will give different weight to different factors, so it’s important to understand how the ad platform you plan to use ranks ad quality.

For example, , which takes the form of one of five categories: Above Average, Average, Below Average (Bottom 35% of Ads) Below Average (Bottom 20% of Ads) and Below Average (Bottom 10% of Ads). These metrics help advertisers understand how well their ad is likely to perform compared to those competing for similar audiences. The lower the quality, the more you’ll have to pay to win the bid.

On Facebook, quality depends on factors like how relevant the ad is to the audience you’re targeting, positive or negative feedback on your ads (such as a user hiding it on their feed), the presence of low-quality attributes such as clickbait, and even the landing page the user is directed to after clicking on your ad.

Similarly, LinkedIn’s Campaign Quality Scores are based on your ad campaign’s predicted click-through rate (pCTR) compared with others of the same audience. Given that audiences are more likely to click on something they perceive to be interesting and relevant to their situation, you’ll need to focus on your ad’s relevancy in order to improve your Quality Score.

Twitter, on the other hand, puts much more emphasis on engagement when judging ad quality, meaning you’ll pay less for a campaign with high engagement. For Twitter, optimising your quality score means focusing on creating engaging content that encourages comments, likes, shares and other actions on your ads.

Top tips for quality ads

  1. Try a video

Did you know that Tweets accompanied by a video see 10 times more engagement than those without? Or that 88% of people say they’ve been convinced to purchase a brand’s products or services after watching a video? This is because video is better at capturing people’s attention and getting a memorable message across – simply put, it caters to the gnat-like attention span of today’s social media audiences!

In an experiment conducted by video creation platform Biteable that pitted a Facebook video ad against a static image, the video generated 480% more clicks and enjoyed a much higher click-through rate. Not only that, but the video was 497% cheaper per click than the static ad.  These results suggest that the video received a higher quality score than the static counterpart (and ads competing for the same audience) as it won bids at a lower cost-per-click.

  1. Optimise your landing page, too

If you’re just starting out in paid search advertising, it’s likely you’ll be concentrating on perfecting your ad creative and content – perhaps without putting too much thought into the website page people who click on your ad will ultimately be visiting.

Landing page relevancy is a huge part of the overall user experience and should be the focus of as much attention when setting up your ad campaign as the ads themselves. It should feel like a natural follow on to the ad your visitor clicked on, and allow them to easily fulfil whatever action it is you want them to take. If you have promised your audience an eBook download, for example, the landing page should be a dedicated page with an easy-to-use form (if the content is gated) or button (if it is not) to enable access. If you want them to get in touch or sign up for a free consultation, this should be equally easy to accomplish on your chosen landing page.

  1. Don’t give in to clickbait temptation

Clickbait, according to one expert, is described as “tricking people into consuming your content by making them believe it will be better than what it really is.” Clickbait advertising is the practice of using sensationalist and even misleading headlines on your ads to encourage people to click.

An example of a clickbait headline might be “Investors can’t believe this SIMPLE BitCoin trick that can make you MILLIONS!” This is clearly a dangerous and misleading statement because it implies that investing in BitCoin is simple and always delivers results. Equally, the article is likely to disappoint audiences because, as we all know, there is no one simple trick to investing in any kind of asset class.

The trouble is that clickbait actually harms your ad’s quality score because it means your landing page is less relevant to your audience than the ad has promised. In the short term, you’ll pay more for your ad campaign and receive fewer qualified leads for your business. In the long term, clickbait use can cause reputational damage and erode trust in your brand. In highly regulated industries, you’re also likely to find yourself falling foul of advertising standards and compliance regulations.

  1. Test, test and test again

Even for paid advertising experts, understanding exactly what an audience is looking for, and what they will judge to be a quality ad, is no mean feat. The answer is to find out for yourself by conducting tests to see which ads do better.

Most social media advertising platforms will offer a range of ways for you to do this. For example, many will offer A/B testing (also known as split testing), which allows you to test two similar ads with one differing variable (e.g. ad creative or headline) and see which performs best. For example, you may want to see which of two images resonates most with your audience, or whether users click more on a headline that asks a question vs one that makes a statement. A/B testing splits your budget between the two options and shows the first to one half of your audience and the second to the other half. You can then compare the results and tailor your strategy accordingly.

Testing enables you to gain a better picture of what works best for your particular audience and to continue honing your creative, message and bidding strategy to improve your ad quality for the future.

  1. Use your best performing organic content

You can actually test which content performs best without spending a single penny by trialling potential ad content with your organic social media followers first. You can then use social media analytics to gauge which of your posts has resulted in the most engagement, such as likes, comments, shares and website visits.

The next step is to use these posts as inspiration for your content – but this doesn’t mean you have to stop testing! You could create three or four different versions of the high-performing post and continue to conduct A/B testing until you have a final winner!

Are you ready to boost your ad quality score and increase your ROI?

We hope you’ve enjoyed our guide to creating quality paid social ads and that you’re now ready to go out there and create some winning ad campaigns.

For those who lack the time, expertise or resource to create their own ad campaigns, all is not lost! At TOMD, we help our clients get the results they’re looking for with their PPC and paid social ad campaigns and grow their business.

For more information about how we can help you succeed with your social media advertising, why not get in touch with us at or call 01279 657555? We’ll be happy to discuss your online advertising needs.

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