Marketers now operate in an incredibly complex and fast moving world. Consumers engage with an increasingly high number of channels and touch points, especially across search and social media, during the customer journey. Bringing together these different channels is therefore essential to success, which means creating a holistic view of activities. This allows marketers to analyse the signals from both search and social to see how they apply to each other and then take action accordingly.

So what are the signals from the two channels?

Paid Search Signals – stated intent

There are four main signals within a search query:

1. Keyword. The words typed into the search engine show intent – what the customer is looking for. If the search is for green baseball cap, you can tell they don’t want a top hat.

2. Brand. Does the search include brand terms? This shows a more specific intent, for example, searching for Ralph Lauren baseball cap indicates a brand preference.

3. Device. The device type also bears significance. Searching for green baseball cap on a smartphone rather than laptop may mean the consumer is out shopping and interested in trying on a cap right now, or a hot day could trigger an immediate need.

4. Behaviour. What was the path to purchase? Behavioural data collected from returning visitors to your website via search engines can give insights into the consumer’s actions. Knowing this enables you to optimise the customer journey and value each touch point correctly.

Social Advertising Signals – stated interest

There are also four distinct signals from social media:

1. Audience. What is the consumer’s profile, their engagement with brand pages or stated interests? Use these to target specific audiences.

2. Sharing. Look at what consumers are sharing through Likes, Retweets and Comments as these can indicate strong messages that can be amplified.

3. Hashtags. These help in tracking specific topics and conversations, and this  information can then be used to shape messaging and targeting strategies.

4. Connections. These should be at the core of any brand’s social graph. If you want to grow your reach and exposure look to access follower, fan or influencer networks.

Delivering synergy between the channels

Now we’ve identified the signals, how can we bring them together? From my experience here are four examples:

1. Remarket and retarget. Look at the search query data to remarket to consumers. Use the right technology to dynamically create ads on Facebook for products that are performing best on Google searches, for example.

2. Grow your keyword set. Analyse the topics, adverts and hashtags that are working well on social channels. Use these to test new paid keywords on the search channel.

3. Cover the right touch points. Normally it takes multiple interactions before a purchase decision is made. Look at the typical customer journey and make sure that each touch point integrates and makes the right impact – and that you are crediting its role properly in your strategy and budgets.

4. Be location aware. Combine local search and device type information and use this within the social channel, tying together activity to provide a closed-loop experience. A good example is triggering social promotions based on local paid searches and then offering discount coupons for in-store purchases.

The benefits of bringing search and social together

All of this sounds wonderful in theory, but what are the results it actually delivers? To demonstrate this, here are a couple of examples from analysis we’ve conducted with Kenshoo clients.

Looking at a retailer, we studied the impact of Facebook ads that were driven by search signals. The results were incredibly strong – these campaigns achieved  23% lower cost per click (CPC), 62% higher click-through rate (CTR), 41% higher conversion rate and a 45% lower cost per acquisition (CPA). Altogether this led to a 62% higher return on investment (ROI), all achieved 4x faster by automating cross-channel integration. You can read more on the results in this case study.

For a second retailer, we compared the results when exposing parts of its target audience to paid search, against other groups who received both Facebook advertising and paid search. The synergy was obvious – the audience targeted through both channels generated 30% more return on ad spend (ROAS), while the CTR was 7% higher. Average order value (AOV) was up by nearly a quarter (24%), while paid search CPA was down by 4.5%. In depth results can be seen in this case study.

As our experience shows, there are enormous synergies between paid search and social advertising. To benefit from this, share data between search and social teams and invest in technology to automate integration between the two channels. This gives you a holistic view of your customers and drives greater return on investment, increased sales and deeper engagement with your audiences. You can read more in our guide to search and social intersections.

Kelly Wrather

Kelly Wrather


Kelly Wrather is the Senior Manager of Content Marketing at Kenshoo.