Guest Blog – What the Poke is Paid Social?


Phil from Paid Social

On my travels around the various offices of digital media I bumped into Phil who works in Paid Social at iProspect. He had some really interesting things to say and I thought he could clear up a little quandary for me: What’s the difference between Paid Social and good old Social Media?

Phil, over to you.


You’d be forgiven for having an idea of marketing as one big lump of activity: the same team of people deciding everything from the sales objective of the campaign down to the pencilling of the individual adverts. In reality, however, what most people think of as marketing is really ‘marcomms’: Marketing Communications. Understanding these two words as separate and distinct concepts is pretty important – as they involve wildly different specialisms and, therefore, employees.

So what’s the difference?

In a nutshell, the ‘Marketing’ bit is concerned with money: sales, profit margins, product launches, budget efficiencies and so on. This is a realm of measurement and metrics, and is more of a science. The ‘Communications’ part is chiefly interested in image: branding, PR, reputation, advert and logo creative, that sort of thing. Comms tends to closer fit the image of marketers many people have, and is more of an art.

You may be wondering why I’m telling you all this. The reason is that Social as a medium has the same distinct halves. Lots of people probably think that my being a specialist in Social Media means that I spend all day chatting to people from branded Twitter feeds, or running communities on Facebook. But that’s because they haven’t noticed the part which says ‘Paid’.

To refer back to the above, Paid Social is the ‘marketing’ bit to Social’s ‘communications’ bit. I put paid adverts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. I’m the one that makes those ‘Sponsored’ posts you see, or the skippable ads before YouTube videos (you’re welcome). I’m not really interested in the creative concept or whether sentiment is on-message or if images follow brand guidelines – unless it’s affecting my advert performance.

Don’t get me wrong: if we’re running bad adverts I’ll point it out, but ultimately my job is to make sure that the client’s creative (which, again, is not really anything to do with me) is seen by the right people and makes them more money back than they are spending. Put like that, it might sound a little dry, but I’ve done quite a bit of ‘comms’ stuff in previous roles and believe me, you can get tired of brainstorms.

You might particularly enjoy this job if you have an analytical mind. You’d probably be intrigued by the idea of clever message targeting. You’d be fascinated by people’s behaviour and how you can pull at the little levers and spin the cogs that affect it. It would be genuinely interesting to you to find out whether an advert performs better to men in the morning and women in the evening. You enjoy thinking in the abstract and concrete in equal measure. You’d like to flip up a block of data to discover what secrets it hides. You have an interest in tech and code. You’re a bit of a geek.

You’re probably really good at Tetris.

If all that sounds familiar, then Paid Social might be a pretty interesting platform for you. The unofficial motto of social media, courtesy of Facebook, is ‘move fast and break things’. Paid Social is one of the most dynamic, fastest-growing, dizzyingly vast spaces in digital marketing. Not a week goes by without some seismic shift happening somewhere, bending the volatile geography of the land around it as new possibilities are created. With Paid Social, you’ve suddenly got all that at your feet to figure out, and a wad of cash with which to do it.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun.


Count me in! Great stuff there from Phil. If you enjoyed what he had to say and fancy joining him in the Paid Social sphere then get in touch with us through our website and as always we’ll do our best to help you.

If you have any questions you’d like answered by either me or someone in the field then please email me at and I’ll be happy to oblige.