Social media advertising vs traditional advertising

Social media advertising | 06 min read

Six reasons why social media advertising is better than traditional advertising

Achieving marketing excellence for a brand now demands the involvement of social media advertising. Both users and ad expenditure in this space are rising astronomically around the world. In fact, a DataReportal study revealed there were 4.62 billion social media users in January 2022 – equating to 58.4% of the global population.

Therefore, it’s little wonder that worldwide social media ad spend is set to hit $173,988 million in 2022, according to Statista figures. It’s also expected to grow at a CAGR of 9.77% over the next four years and reach a market volume of $252,569 million by 2026.

In this article, we consider what social media advertising means, explore how it differs from traditional methods, and discover how it could transform your brand’s marketing strategy.

What will our social media advertising vs traditional advertising guide cover?

  • What is meant by social media advertising?
  • Top six reasons to use social media ads
    1. Better brand awareness 
    2. Audience targeting 
    3. Greater ROI 
    4. Increased agility 
    5. Direct link to purchase
    6. Tech tools and capabilities

What is meant by social media advertising? 

Social media advertising can be defined as a key component of a digital marketing strategy that utilises the prominence of social media platforms. Key social media platforms used for this type of advertising include:

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • TikTok
  • Pinterest
  • LinkedIn


This type of advertising concentrates on interaction in a digital space, while traditional advertising has a different focus. Offline marketing builds its strategies around print media such as newspapers or magazines, plus radio and TV ads.

Although both methods have the same aims – to get products and services in front of people who are going to buy or use them – the goal in each instance is approached differently. 

Social media advertising can be more agile and targeted to the audience. Traditional ads can reach more people, but their static nature means the relevancy of this audience isn’t guaranteed.

Top six reasons to use social media ads 

1. Better brand awareness

With social media user numbers climbing above 50% of the world’s population, there’s a vast opportunity for your brand to increase awareness about what it does and what it’s about. 

Social advertising allows a marketing team to easily see what sets a business apart from the competition and quickly spread the word to people who are interested in your services.

Communication with your audience is far easier in a digital context and can better help you convey your brand messaging to the relevant audience to build a desired reputation.

2. Audience targeting

Although traditional advertising can reach large numbers of people to increase brand awareness – it often can’t do this on a global scale, or in a targeted way. In short, who views these ads could be random. 

Yes, it’s possible to place ads in publications with a defined audience or pay for radio and TV ads during more relevant shows, but social media advertising can be far more specific.

Through the use of data, software and tools, it’s possible to discover specific age, location and characteristics of your audience and create social ads based on these findings. Not only that, but demographic data can help your creative team drill down even further into which social media platforms your audience uses.

For instance, in our ultimate guide to social media advertising, we found that 65% of Facebook users are under the age of 35 and more men use the platform than women. Meanwhile, 63% of Twitter users are aged between 35 and 65.

The data you collect about your audience can also help with your influencer marketing via social platforms. Choosing relevant influencers your audience can trust, relate to and engage with could be key to the success of ads you place with them.

3. Greater ROI

The return on investment (ROI) for your social media output will depend on the KPIs you set. It might be converted sales or newsletter sign-ups. 

However, when you create a well-planned strategy and set achievable goals, it’s possible to get great ROI on your social ad spend. 

By comparison, traditional marketing can feel less affordable and the commitment is much longer term due to the expense. Social media advertising can cost less and is more data-driven so it can be tailored to your goals from the outset. 

4. Increased agility

The ability to be more agile is a huge selling point of social media advertising. Traditional advertising can be rigid, involving long-term commitments and contracts that aren’t usually flexible. Ads are also typically static, so once the messaging is out in the world, there’s little scope for adaptation.

This is the opposite of the agility that comes with digital advertising. It’s possible to be reactive to current affairs or trending topics – and with the right tools, you can come up with an idea in the morning and push an ad live by lunchtime. After which, you’ll have a great view of ad performance thanks to data insights.

It’s easier to see what’s working over a shorter time, which means you can swiftly adapt your creatives if something isn’t landing in the way you wanted it to.

5. Direct link to purchase

One of the hot social media advertising trends for 2022 is the use of shoppable posts and in-stream shopping. In comparison, traditional static ads create more of a disconnect between the ad itself and the physical interaction with your brand. 

Shoppable posts and in-stream shopping are on the rise and make for a more direct route for your consumers to purchase with you.

Data from Insider Intelligence shows the number of social commerce shoppers is expected to reach over 100 million by 2023 – a growth area that could be worth targeting.

6. Tech tools and capabilities

The power of technology, the correct software and tools, cannot be underestimated when it comes to comparing traditional ads with their social media counterparts.

By using a premium ad creator, such as Bannerflow, it’s possible to automate ad production and roll out creative across platforms, in numerous markets and multiple languages at scale. This means your marketing experts can target more people, in more locations in far less time.

This has many additional benefits, including being able to personalise with dynamic HTML5 placements with ease while increasing ROI through cutting costs. 

One brand that has benefitted from this powerful tech is Storytel, a market-leading audiobook and ebook streaming service. Storytel operates across 20+ markets, offering a service that’s localised to each – and it now uses Bannerflow in-house for all of its ad creatives, including social assets.


Key takeaways

There are clear and tangible positives to come from incorporating social media advertising into your marketing strategy. Whether it’s to be more agile, provide ample opportunities for consumers to shop with your brand, or to gain more insights for a better customer experience. 

But does it have to be a case of one or the other? Approaching your strategy holistically according to your business and learning how your audience operates will offer invaluable information as to how they want to be reached. A mixture of the traditional and the digital could be the recipe for the success you’ve been seeking.

However, there’s little doubt about the benefits social media advertising can bring to your brand’s ROI – and this can be further enhanced by using the right tech and tools.

Want to see how automating the production of your creative could work for your brand? Discover more about the Bannerflow product and book a demo to experience our platform in action.

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