Paid Advertising vs Organic Advertising

Digital Marketing, the big debate: Paid vs Organic

There are two ways to gain increased brand awareness, perception, website traffic, leads and sales: paid and organic. But what are the differences between them and which one is better for you?


What does it even mean? Organic marketing is all about generating results through your creativity and time. Anything that isn’t paid for, can essentially be classed as organic advertising.

Gaining increased Brand Awareness via Social Media is all about understanding the needs and concerns of your buyer personas and what they will engage with. Once this is achieved you then have to get creative! Create the appropriate content and publish it on all the online platforms where and when your target audience is likely to hang out.

Organic search traffic means you generate clicks from search engines search as Google without having to pay for them. You do this by making sure that your website performs well on all devices, has all the relevant content and has lots of quality inbound links from other trusted websites.

Paid Advertising

This one seems a bit clearer than organic, this is clearly defined by whether or not you have had to pay a publisher for your content to appear, whether that be Facebook, Google etc.

Paid advertisements on Google and Facebook tend to sit alongside organic results and purposely appear very similar to organic results and posts.

Google will show your paid advert based on the search terms you define and the amount of money you are prepared to pay per click.

In terms of social media you will be seeing certain ads because the advertiser deems you to be their target audience. This maybe defined by your age, sex, occupation, behaviour etc

(find out more about how specific Facebook adverts can be on here).

Pros and Cons
The main benefits of organic marketing is the fact it can be implemented by the smallest business with no marketing budget. Typically, companies will use the free features a platform can offer such as publishing tweets on Twitter in order to grow stable, permanent following of customers. The only real investment would be your time and here is the downside, it requires a lot of time. Typically you will need to be spending a few hours per week on social media, same again for blog writing and then again for SEO. On top of this, you will have monthly activities such as email marketing and the analysis of data from Google analytics, Google search console, your social media scheduling tool, email marketing platform etc.

The greatest benefit of paid advertising is the control you have. You are able to choose what messages are published, who can see it and when. This allows a company to be much more targeted and obtain instant results from their branded messages, which wouldn’t necessarily be the case with organic advertising. This, however, is out of reach for a lot of small businesses and even those that do have the budget can easily waste it by not understanding the workings of Google Adwords or Facebook ads fully.

Unlike organic advertising which is a long-term plan, paid advertising can reap rewards quickly. As soon as payment for an ad placement has gone through, paid results are placed at the top of search result rankings or feeds. Therefore it may be best to combine the two, if you require instant results and have the required budget, you may be better off starting the organic strategy with a paid campaign side by side until the organic strategy achieves results

When is it good to pay?

  • Your website is live and working- there’s no point being top of Google’s searches if your website doesn’t convert, test first.
  • Sales Periods – If you have products you would like to get rid of quickly then Google ads are a great route to market.
  • New product/brand launch – If nobody knows about your product or brand then social media ads are a great way to get known and Google ads are a great way to target those searching the problems your new products or brand solve.

When is it better to generate attention organically?

The short answer is always! If you’re just starting out then you might be put off by the thoughts of waiting 6-12 months before getting any real leads from social media or organic rankings. But if you are persistent and continue with your organic strategy then this will pay off massively further down the line and will snowball.

The Barcelona way

You may wonder why we have brought Barcelona FC into this debate, but Damian Hughes recently published a book discussing how they changed the focus of the club from having three of the most famous expensive strikers, to getting rid of them and building the right culture within the club instead. With the guidance of Guardiola,

Barcelona FC won 14 of 19 possible titles while their long term superstar rivals Real Madrid were left wondering why their massive spending had failed.

Barcelona chose to invest time and effort to ensure everyone within the club represented their chosen brand values. This has not only got them results but it has made the club the most admired in the world. Money can’t buy this, Real Madrid won plenty of titles beforehand, but they never won the admiration of the entire footballing planet.

Which is better?

Neither is better. When choosing how you wish to market your brand online, it’s not a ‘one or the other’ sort of decision. Organic and paid are capable of working together to create an effective marketing strategy.

Paid advertising is amazing because it allows any business, at any stage in their development, to boost their traffic or brand awareness. Your business can then run organic search marketing campaigns in the background which would help improve a more cost-effective presence over time.

So is there really one you should choose over the other? The choice is up to you and your business, what suits your situation best. However, even if you do have all the money in the world, we suggest you have a proper Organic Digital Marketing strategy alongside your paid campaign to ensure you build a brand for a long term profitable future.


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