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Paid Social, What is it?

By Veda K. Ford, Over 15 years of experience with Paid Social.

Create Date: 2022/06/05

5-10 minute read.

Paid Social advertising is the practice of showcasing branded content, with the intention of having an organic feel to the social media platform. Paid Social advertising is digital marketing’s best kept secret. Digital Media channels like META, which includes Facebook and Instagram. TikTok, SnapChat, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking apps are where this sponsored content is promoted to potential customers, known as targets.

Twitter advertising types.

What makes this online marketing special is the precise targeting tactics. There are several distinct targeting options like behavioral, modeled, retargeting and contextual. Behavioral targeting is using the target's online actions to categorize into large audiences through a Pixel, a small piece of code used to track activities online. Modeled targeting is target audiences made from like audiences. Retargeting advertising reaches targets who have had previous brand engagement. Contextual advertising is displaying advertising near specified topics or websites.

These channels are important in a marketing strategy, because of the large unique reach of targets for a positive return on investment and the unique methods of targeting potential customers.

Behavioral Targeting

Potential Customer’s activities are learned which determines what advertisements the potential customer sees in their app. The learned behaviors also help determine what combination of creatives and messages resonate best. The behavioral data used to target leverages valued actions on websites and aligns them to campaign objectives for personalized marketing.

Modeled Targeting

The key to modeled audiences is using the most valued potential customer. The best modeled audiences are created from 1st party customer data. Best practice is to model audiences from both online and offline data. Lookalike LAL modeled audiences are only as good as the audience data used to create the model-based audience. Pixel-based LALs can build audiences based on website visitors, leveraging a form of 1st party data, owned data.

LinkedIn Ad on a newsfeed.


Retargeting efforts include specific audiences from companies websites, specific pages on a website, time spent on pages or a combination of these. You can also retarget from previous ad engagement, those who have engaged but seeking other price points, past customers and retargeting potential customers who have taken valued actions on a website.

Contextual Targeting

Content based advertising targets through topics and websites. This type of targeting aligns advertising with specific websites or content topics. In example, advertising sports products on sport theme websites or through social content that is sports related.

Contextual ad.

Excluding Audiences

By excluding audiences you cut wasted ad dollars, by not advertising to audiences who have already converted or visited certain websites. This allows advertising to target true intenders, those potential customers most likely to convert.

Excluding contextually can also eliminate waste and ensure brand safety by excluding sensitive topics that are not aligned with the brand or advertisement.

Targeting Tactic Mix

A good mix from budgets allocations between tactics is the best solution to create funnel marketing. Funnel marketing is when you prospect for potential targets with behavioral, contextual and modeled targeting. Behavioral targeting can also be used to guide potential customers through the consideration phase of the funnel with educational, informative content then retarget with advertisements that convert from strong call to actions CTAs.

What’s next for Targeted Advertising?

Anytime a business can create databases of first party data, data from previous customers, customers and potential customers, it’s important to collect this Personal Identified Information, PII. These databases of customer information can be used to create Custom Audiences, for example, past customers can be re-engaged, current customers can be made aware of new deals or promotions and potential customers can be advertised to directly.

With learned online behaviors, Predictive Advertising will become more prevalent. Predictive Advertising is audiences built from models and Machine Learning to accurately predict potential customers.

Targeting Matters on Paid Social

The more efficient your targeting the less expensive it will be to reach your potential customer. With precise targeting and relevant content you will see increased engagement. When platform targeting algorithms see heightened engagement levels advertisers are rewarded with cheaper costs like low Cost per Clicks CPCs, low Cost per Thousands CPM and lower Cost per intended Results.

Testing in digital advertising is also important, retargeting potential customers with variations of ad copy, images, CTAs and headlines can be very effective.

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