There’s a scene in The Social Network, where Mark Zuckerberg is arguing against allowing advertisements on Facebook. The emerging social platform was still trying to carve out a niche and ads would’ve muddied its cool factor, Zuck explained. $900 billion later [1] and Facebook, err Meta, probably isn’t too upset with introducing advertising to their platform. Social media’s ubiquity means it should be part of every  digital media budget. If you blow your whole budget on TV with no social, you’re doing it wrong.

There are basically two kinds of ways marketers can advertise on social media: organic and paid. This article will focus on paid social media ads and what makes them such an effective marketing tool.

programmatic paid social

The Main Players

Programmatic paid social has allowed marketers to advertise to 4.48 billion social media users [2] across different social networks. Sticking to only one social network is like advertising on one channel. That’s why it’s important to understand what each social network offers. We’re not going to bore you with who the big social networks are, you probably already know them. But let’s discuss what each one brings to the table.


The parent company’s new name [3] will still take some getting used to but make no mistake, Facebook is still a social powerhouse. Facebook boasts about 2.89 billion monthly active users [4], making it the most popular social network in the world. Furthermore, Facebook accounts for accounts for over 71% of all monthly social media visits. Those kinds of numbers ensure that your paid social media advertising will have plenty of eyeballs on it.



Instagram may not produce the numbers Facebook does, but it should still be an essential part to your social media budget. In fact, Facebook’s staggering numbers help strengthen the case for Instagram as the two share the same ad platform. As a result, your brand will have plenty of cross-promotional opportunities. In addition, Instagram is the most important social platform for influencer marketing.



While most social media networks are used to stay connected with friends, Twitter offers a different function. Sure, you can follow your friends on Twitter, but the majority use the platform to get their news and entertainment [5]. This allows you to reach a different kind of audience and expand your reach beyond the other platforms. Twitter’s targeting capabilities are also better than most other social networks. Unlike Facebook, Twitter lets you target people who have used a specific keyword or hashtag in the update.


The new kid on the block is taking the world by storm. While video-first social networks tend to appeal to Gen Z, Tik Tok’s audience is no longer just the young. In fact, over half the Tik Tok users in the US are above the age of 30 [6]. Furthermore, Tik Tok has become very advertiser-friendly and offers many tools to make sure your content is relevant and impactful.


Snapchat has lost some steam since it first hit the market. But there is still very real value in advertising with them. This is especially true if your audience skews younger. According to U.S teens, Snapchat is the single most important social media network [7]. In addition, Snapchat’s augmented reality capabilities may be the best among all the social platforms. As a result, brands can create more innovative and immersive ads.


Top Paid Social Ad Formats

There are many different ways you can advertise on social media. Oftentimes, it depends on your budget, timing, and objective. Paid social can single-handedly propel your business. But you have to do it right. Here are some of the most popular kinds of social media ads.


Image Ads

The first, and perhaps more obvious, type of paid social ad is the image ad. This is your standard post that includes an image with the post copy. However, you can also use a carousel ad that incorporates multiple photos that the user swipes through to view. Furthermore, there is a panoramic carousel ad that is one panoramic photo divided into different images. The user must swipe to see all parts of the photo. When it comes to the images, it’s usually a good idea to showcase your product. In addition, images with people’s faces tend to perform well. You should also be sure to keep the in-image text to a minimum. In fact, Facebook requires your text take up a maximum of 20% of the image.


Text Ads

Text social ads are the easiest and quickest to create and execute, for obvious reasons. However, they are also the least eye-catching. If you utilize text-only ads, make sure the copy is short, clear and attention-grabbing. If you’re going to pay for a sponsored text-only ad, the reader should know exactly what you want them to do after reading it.


Video Ads

Video continues to emerge as a preferred method of advertising on social media. Video content helps a brand better tell their story. In addition, video ads are usually more visually compelling than static image ads. Remember to include captions with your videos as a whopping 83% of US consumers watch videos with no sound [8]. In addition, make sure your paid social video ad has a clear CTA so viewers know what to take away from it. Also, keep your mobile viewers in mind and utilize vertical dimensions.


Interactive Ads

Interactive ads invite the user to engage with the ad content, usually through augmented reality. These ads can be especially impactful as they encourage the user to proactively participate, rather than passively watch. As a result, users will come away with a memorable experience with the brand. If you’re going to go the interactive route, you should first consult with the platform. Their team will be able to give you insight into what works best for their platform. Furthermore, your interaction should be quick, easy, and fun to understand. If it takes too many steps, the user will be confused and uninterested. Lastly, it should be memorable and relevant to your brand. You want the user to remember which brand they were engaging with.


Programmatic Paid Social 

Programmatic advertising refers to an automated exchange of ad inventory between the buyer and seller. Buying paid social ads programmatically offers a few different benefits that are worth exploring


A More Efficient Process

Because the exchange is automated between machines, you may get a large chunk of your day back. The trading desk you work with can perform some of the important tasks on your behalf. These include searching for the right ad space, negotiating rates, and buying ad inventory. As a result, you have more time to spend on research, strategy, and content creation.


Improved Transparency

Programmatic paid social ads give the marketer more visibility into how their social campaigns perform, as well as which strategies are working best. As a result, you can optimize your campaigns based on the metrics you see in real time.


Precise Targeting

Programmatic also lets you target your audience with more precision based on a wide range of attributes. The most relevant targeting attribute is users’ social media activity. However, you can also target based on users’ activity on other websites and apps. In addition, you can take into account loyalty card subscriptions, demographics, interests, purchase history and more.


Connect With Wingman Media

Want to chat about social? No need to slide into our DMs. Just give us a call and we’d love to show you how we can turn your social media presence into the perfect advertising opportunity. We have years of experience and can walk you through our strategy, media plan and creative recommendations for social media paid advertising. Call Wingman Media today.