What Is Paid Acquisition?

One of the best ways to gain visibility, leads, and customers is through paid acquisition. So, what exactly is paid acquisition?

Types of Paid Acquisition

According to NGData, customer acquisition “refers to gaining new consumers.” They go on to say that “Acquiring new customers involves persuading consumers to purchase a company’s products and/or services.” What are you paying for in order to persuade your customers to purchase? Advertisements, right?

The key difference is that you’re paying to gain new consumers, leads, customers, instead of it coming organically. Organically would be through social media, an unpaid referral, or a search on the SERPs. Paid acquisition means paid digital ads and placement on social media, Google, Amazon or other shopping platforms, and other websites related to our product or services. We’ll also define what PPC (pay-per-click), Paid Search, and Display Ads mean, and what geotagged ads are.

Quick Tip: in every type of paid acquisition, it’s important to use keywords that draw your user in while enhancing your ranking on search engines. Check out our recent article about product copy to learn more about what language you should be using and how to write the copy effectively.

Social Media

Social media is a great way to get more brand awareness and acquire leads and customers. One aspect that is growing is the “story” ad. When you’re looking through all of your friends’ stories, up pops an advertisement like it could be any other story you’re watching. Other formats include ads in the newsfeed feature, video advertisements before or during a YouTube video, or in the scrolling videos on Facebook or TikTok, along with influencer ads. With social media, the idea is to lean more towards that organic feel, although in the end this is a cost to your company – that hopefully pays off!


Amazon has a large portion of the paid acquisition efforts in marketing today considering it’s the top avenue for purchases right now. Consumers go to Amazon for product ideas, price comparisons, and find items. You’ll see paid acquisition here in the form of sponsored results at the top of the search results or in the middle of the page. If someone searches for your product, you can pay to have yours be at the top of the list.


Similar to Amazon, Google is a huge space for advertising on search engine result pages (SERPs). Your ad will show as a sponsored result either at the top of the page or along the side of it, depending on if the customer is using the “shopping” function of google searches or if they’re on the regular search page. You can ensure that your ad shows up when someone searches something similar or exactly like what you’re selling. Plus, you can tell Google what words you do not want to show up for.

Display Ads

Display ads may make me think of billboards, but in this context it’s actually those banner ads you see on websites you visit. These are different from search results and social media, obviously. These are the ones you get after you’ve visited a certain website and think, how did they know I wanted that? For instance, maybe you looked at a pair of shoes and then the next site you’re on there’s an ad for those shoes. Or, you’ve visited sites similar to a certain store, like Macy’s, and so you see an ad for another department store. While there is a change to cookies coming (see our post on the End of Cookies), this is still a viable option for now.  

PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

Pay-per-click is a way of payment for your advertisements, as in you pay per each click your ad receives. If no one clicks on your ad on Amazon, then you don’t owe much to Amazon for them displaying your ad. However, if someone does click on it, or multiple people do, then the price starts to add up.

Paid Search

Paid search simply means that a customer is accessing your site via a search result that you’ve paid to appear on the page, like we mentioned before with Google or Amazon. This can be on other search engines such as YouTube, Yahoo, Bing, and the like.

Geotagged Ads

In every one of these types of paid advertising, you can target specific geographies. This could be all of a certain county for example, or the whole country of the USA. This may not be a useful metric all of the time, unless you are a brick and mortar store trying to drive customers into the physical location. Then going broad geographically with your ad would not help your goal much!

What’s Important


Running successful paid acquisition campaigns begins with making sure they are properly optimized. This is essential to maximizing your budget and ensuring you are deriving value from your campaigns. Consider where your customer is in their buyer’s journey when they see your ad and hone in on the right keywords that will best resonate with them at that particular juncture that have a high search volume, yet are attainable for your company to target. These are the keywords you should make sure you are implementing throughout your ad campaigns.

Modifying Your Ad Campaigns as Needed

And it doesn’t stop there. To make sure your ads will continue to be an effective source of traffic for your company, you need to be consistently testing your ads and monitoring the conversion rates they yield, and making changes as needed. Maybe, you need to change the schedule or frequency in which you are posting these ads or maybe you would benefit from segmenting certain keywords to send more targeted ads to specific sectors of your audience. Once you know that an advertisement is getting pricey for the number of clicks it’s receiving or if its conversion rate is disappointingly low, it’s time to find the weak spots in your ad campaign, and make changes accordingly to better reach, acquire and convert traffic. 

Retargeting Customers

Sometimes a potential customer isn’t ready or prepared to make a purchase when they first come upon an ad from your company, or perhaps they did make it to the point of purchase, but something else got in the way of them following through, and checking out their cart. So, how do you regain such customers and redirect them back into your funnel? Through the power of retargeting!

Retargeting ads allows you to reach customers who left your website or social media profile without making a purchase, and remind them of your products or services to hopefully encourage them to get back into the funnel and make a purchase this time. With the use of cookies, you can follow a customer from your site or social profile from wherever they bounced onto another website and display your ad there.Retargeting can be an extremely effective way of acquiring and successfully converting your customers. 

However, there are some things to keep in mind to make sure you are facilitating an effective retargeting ad strategy. The key is to not abuse retargeting campaigns and to use them strategically to deliver value to your customers, not inundate them with noise. For example, you can use retargeting to promote specific products or services that could resonate better with customers such as featuring new collections or showcasing popular items that have already been best sellers. Generally, retargeting is a marketing tactic that will work best for companies who already have a substantial following. If your customer already has a good idea of who you are and an established relationship with your company having purchased before from you, then retargeting them will be more effective for you. Your ads will then actually be able to better retarget and redirect such customers, reminding them why they should purchase from you in the first place, rather than it being possibly the first time they are encountering your brand, and have yet to have developed trust in your company. 

Truth be told, there’s a lot that goes into paid acquisition. If you’re reading this and just not getting it, or need help with execution, feel free to reach out to us and we can help. We also offer free marketing audits to determine where your company currently stands and what needs to be improved.