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Video Ads vs Search Ads for SaaS Businesses

In the clash of video ads vs search ads, this guide will reveal which one reigns supreme.

By analyzing the unique advantages and applications of each, we aim to provide actionable insights that SaaS marketers can use to optimize their advertising efforts and achieve measurable business outcomes.

Let’s get right into it!

What are Video Ads?


Video ads are a form of ads that incorporate audio and visual elements to promote products, services, or brands. They are designed to capture attention quickly and effectively, often delivering messages in a more immersive and engaging way than static text or images alone can achieve.

In the context of SaaS businesses, video ads are used primarily to illustrate software features, benefits, and user testimonials in a visually appealing format.

Common formats of video ads include:

  • Skippable In-Stream Ads: These ads appear before, during, or after other videos on YouTube and other video services, allowing viewers the option to skip the ad after a few seconds.
  • Non-Skippable In-Stream Ads: Similar to skippable ads, these also appear around video content but must be watched entirely before the viewer can proceed to their intended video.
  • Video Discovery Ads: These ads show up in places where viewers discover content, like on YouTube search results, next to related videos, or on the YouTube mobile homepage as a suggested video.

Strategic Use of Video Ads in Digital Marketing

Video ads are not just about showcasing a product; they are a strategic tool designed to achieve specific marketing objectives.

Here are some key strategies for using video ads effectively:

  1. Awareness and Engagement: Video ads are excellent for generating awareness due to their dynamic nature, which can engage senses and emotions more effectively than text-based ads. SaaS companies often use video ads to explain complex software products in simple terms through engaging visuals and clear narration.
  2. Conversion and Lead Generation: By including compelling calls-to-action, video ads can drive conversions. For SaaS businesses, this might mean encouraging viewers to sign up for a free trial, download a white paper, or attend a webinar.
  3. Education and Onboarding: For existing customers, video ads can provide valuable onboarding assistance and ongoing education about new features or updates, ensuring users get the most out of the software.
  4. Re-engagement: Video ads can be used to re-engage users who may have shown interest in a product but did not convert. Remarketing video ads target these individuals to remind them of the product’s benefits and any new features or promotions.

The effective use of video ads requires a clear understanding of the platform’s specific capabilities and limitations, as well as an in-depth knowledge of the target audience’s preferences and behaviors.

For SaaS businesses, this means creating content that not only attracts attention but also conveys the unique value proposition of their software in a clear and engaging manner.

What are Search Ads?

Search ads examples

Search ads are text-based advertisements that appear alongside organic search results on search engine results pages (SERPs). These ads are triggered by specific keywords that users enter into the search engine, making them highly targeted and intent-oriented.

The primary objective of search ads is to capture the attention of users at the moment they demonstrate interest in related topics or solutions, thereby offering a direct pathway to the advertised product or service.

Characteristics of Search Ads

Search ads are distinguished by their simplicity and directness.

Unlike video ads, which can engage users through storytelling and visual appeal, search ads rely on concise, clear text to convey their message and compel action.

The structure of a search ad typically includes a headline, a display URL, and a brief description.

The headline grabs attention with relevant keywords, the URL signals the destination website, and the description provides additional details and encourages clicks.

How Search Ads Work on Google’s SERPs

Google uses a complex algorithm to determine which ads to display for a given search query.

This decision is based on factors such as the relevance of the ad to the user’s search, the quality of the ad, and the bid amount specified by the advertiser.

Advertisers use a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning they pay a fee each time their ad is clicked.

This model emphasizes the importance of ad relevance and optimization, as higher-quality ads can lead to lower costs and better ad placements.

  1. Keyword Targeting: Advertisers select keywords that are pertinent to their product or service. These keywords should match the terms potential customers are likely to use when seeking similar solutions. Effective keyword management and bid strategies are crucial for optimizing visibility and engagement.
  2. Ad Rank and Bidding: Google ranks ads based on a combination of factors including bid amount, ad quality (measured by the click-through rate and relevance), and the expected impact of extensions and other ad formats. Advertisers can adjust bids to compete for higher positions on the SERP, but must balance this with the cost-effectiveness of their campaigns.
  3. Quality Score: This metric reflects the quality of your ad, keywords, and landing pages. Higher quality scores can result in lower costs and better ad positioning. It’s influenced by factors such as ad relevance, user experience on the landing page, and click-through rate.

Search ads offer a powerful tool for SaaS businesses to attract users who are actively seeking software solutions.

By targeting specific search queries (aimed towards target audience pain points) with carefully crafted ads, SaaS companies can effectively guide potential customers to their offerings at the critical moment of decision-making.

Advantages of Video Ads for SaaS Businesses

Video ads offer several advantages for SaaS businesses, from high engagement with complex content to the ability to build an emotional connection with potential customers.

These benefits make video ads a valuable component of a SaaS company’s marketing strategy, particularly when aimed at illustrating product functionality, enhancing brand perception, and driving user actions.

High Engagement Potential Through Visual and Auditory Elements

Video ads are uniquely capable of capturing and maintaining viewer attention through a combination of visual and auditory stimuli.

For SaaS businesses, this means an opportunity to present complex software functionalities in a digestible and engaging format.

Video content allows for dynamic demonstrations of software interfaces, real-time use cases, and the direct benefits of using the software, all of which are essential for educating potential customers about the product’s utility and its ease of use.

Effectiveness in Demonstrating Complex Software Functionalities

One of the primary challenges for SaaS companies is communicating the technical aspects and capabilities of their products to a diverse audience.

Video ads address this challenge by visually demonstrating how the software works in various scenarios, thereby helping potential customers visualize themselves using the product.

This method is particularly effective for complex SaaS solutions that require more than a simple screenshot or textual explanation to convey their value.

Building Brand Awareness and Emotional Connection Through Storytelling

Video ads also play a critical role in building brand awareness and establishing an emotional connection with potential customers.

Through storytelling, SaaS companies can create narratives that resonate with their target audience’s challenges and aspirations.

A well-crafted video ad can introduce the brand’s values, the passion behind the product, and the people behind the company, all of which contribute to a stronger brand identity and customer loyalty.

Optimization of Video Ads for Maximum Reach and Impact

Targeting Options

Video ads on platforms like YouTube offer sophisticated targeting options that allow SaaS businesses to reach specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.

This precision ensures that the video content is shown to users who are most likely to be interested in the software, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Call-to-Action Placement

Including a strong call-to-action (CTA) within the video encourages immediate engagement from viewers.

For SaaS products, CTAs might include signing up for a free trial, scheduling a demo, or visiting the website to learn more.

Effective placement of these CTAs within the video can significantly influence the viewer’s journey from awareness to decision-making.

Measuring and Analyzing Performance

Video ads provide comprehensive metrics that help SaaS marketers measure success and optimize future campaigns.

Key performance indicators for video ads include view count, engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion metrics.

By analyzing these data, marketers can adjust their strategies to improve both the content and distribution of their video ads, ensuring they resonate better with the intended audience and drive more meaningful results.

Advantages of Search Ads for SaaS Businesses

Search ads offer a range of benefits that make them a valuable tool for SaaS businesses.

Their ability to target users with high intent, combined with direct response capabilities and measurable ROI, provides a robust foundation for effective digital marketing campaigns.

Additionally, the flexibility and cost-efficiency of search ads allow SaaS companies to maintain control over their advertising efforts, making adjustments as needed to ensure maximum impact and efficiency.

High Intent Targeting Based on Specific User Queries

Search ads are uniquely effective for SaaS businesses due to their ability to target potential customers who have already expressed a specific interest or need.

By focusing on keywords that users are actively searching for, SaaS companies can position their ads in front of a highly motivated audience.

This direct targeting approach helps ensure that the ads are relevant to the users’ current needs or problems, increasing the likelihood of engagement and conversion.

Direct Response Capabilities That Drive Immediate Actions

The structure of search ads promotes direct action from users.

Each ad typically includes a headline, description, and a clear call-to-action, which guides users on what to do next—be it signing up for a trial, scheduling a demo, or downloading a white paper.

For SaaS businesses, the ability to drive immediate actions is critical, especially in a competitive market where capturing lead information and initiating user engagement swiftly can significantly impact conversion rates.

Ability to Precisely Measure Return on Investment (ROI) and Adjust for Optimization

One of the most significant advantages of search ads for SaaS businesses is the ability to measure the effectiveness of each ad campaign with precision.

Metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and cost per acquisition provide clear indicators of an ad’s performance.

This data is invaluable for making informed decisions about budget allocation and ad optimization.

It allows marketers to refine their campaigns continuously, ensuring that they are investing in the strategies that generate the best returns.

Detailed Data Analytics

Search ads platforms like Google Ads provide detailed analytics that can help SaaS companies understand not only how their ads are performing but also who their customers are.

This data includes information on demographics, device usage, and even the time of day when users are most likely to engage.

Such insights are crucial for optimizing ad schedules and targeting parameters, further enhancing campaign effectiveness.

Flexibility in Ad Management

The flexibility of search ads is particularly beneficial for SaaS businesses.

Advertisers can start, pause, or adjust their campaigns almost instantaneously based on performance data or shifting business priorities.

This agility ensures that SaaS marketers can respond quickly to market changes or internal adjustments in strategy, budget, or product offerings.

Cost-Effectiveness of Campaigns

Search ads operate on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning SaaS companies only pay when a user clicks on their ad.

This model makes search ads a cost-effective choice for SaaS marketing.

By optimizing keywords and refining target audiences, companies can manage their advertising spend efficiently, focusing their budgets on the most productive ads and reducing wasted expenditure.

Strategic Use of Video Ads in SaaS Marketing

Best Practices for Creating Compelling Video Content

Creating effective video content for SaaS marketing requires a clear understanding of the product’s benefits, the target audience, and the specific goals of the campaign.

Videos should be designed to capture attention quickly and maintain engagement through clear, concise messaging and visually appealing graphics.

Focus on Clear Messaging

The primary message of the video should be easy to understand and focused on the viewer’s needs and challenges.

It should clearly explain how the SaaS product solves specific problems or improves efficiency.

A clear call to action should guide viewers on what steps to take next, whether it’s signing up for a free trial, scheduling a demo, or visiting a landing page for more information.

High-Quality Production Values

The quality of the video can significantly impact how the brand and the product are perceived.

High production values do not necessarily mean a high budget but do require attention to good lighting, clear audio, professional editing, and visually appealing graphics.

These elements should come together to create a cohesive and professional-looking video.

Keep It Short and Engaging

Video ads should be concise due to the limited attention span of online viewers.

Ideally, videos should not exceed 60-90 seconds, enough time to convey the essential messages without losing viewer interest.

The use of dynamic visuals, engaging narratives, and a direct approach to addressing the viewer’s needs can help maintain engagement throughout the video.

Tips for Optimizing Video Ad Performance

Targeting Options

Understanding the target audience is crucial.

Video ads should be tailored to the demographics, interests, and behaviors of potential customers.

Platforms like YouTube provide tools to refine targeting, ensuring the video reaches viewers who are most likely to be interested in the SaaS product.

Placement and Timing

Choosing the right platform and time for the video ad can affect its performance.

For example, placing a video ad on LinkedIn might be more effective for B2B SaaS products, while consumer-focused software might perform better on platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Analyzing Viewer Interaction

Monitoring how viewers interact with video ads provides insights that can be used to tweak and improve future campaigns.

Metrics to watch include view count, watch time, and actions taken after watching the video (like clicking on the call to action).

This data helps in understanding what works and what doesn’t, allowing for continuous improvement of the video strategy.

Strategic Use of Search Ads in SaaS Marketing

Keyword Strategy for Maximizing Ad Performance

Developing a robust keyword strategy is central to the success of search ads in SaaS marketing.

This involves identifying the terms and phrases that potential customers are using to search for solutions that the SaaS product can provide.

It is crucial to choose keywords that are highly relevant to the product’s offerings, as this ensures that the ads appear in the search results of users who are most likely to be interested in the software.

Comprehensive Keyword Research

Begin with thorough research to compile a list of keyword possibilities, including both broad and specific terms.

Utilize tools like Google Keyword Planner to gain insights into search volumes and competition levels, which helps in selecting the most effective keywords for the campaign.

Focus on Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords, which are longer and more specific phrases, often have lower competition and higher conversion rates.

They allow SaaS companies to target prospects who are further down the buying funnel and more likely to convert, as these users typically search with very specific intentions.

Ad Customization and Dynamic Content Matching Search Intent

Tailoring ads to match the search intent of the users can significantly enhance the effectiveness of search ad campaigns.

This involves customizing the ad copy to reflect the specific needs and interests indicated by the keywords.

Crafting Targeted Ad Copy

Create ad texts that directly address the user’s queries, emphasizing how the SaaS product solves their specific problems or improves their processes.

This relevance not only increases the likelihood of engagement but also improves the quality score of the ads, which can lead to better ad placements at a lower cost.

Utilizing Ad Extensions

Ad extensions provide additional information and links to search ads, such as contact details, links to specific pages, and even forms for immediate lead generation.

Utilizing these extensions effectively can increase the ad’s visibility and provide users with more avenues to interact with the SaaS company directly from the SERP.

Case Studies Showcasing Effective Search Ad Implementations in the SaaS Industry

Analyzing successful search ad campaigns from leading SaaS companies can offer valuable lessons.

These case studies typically highlight how strategic keyword selection, compelling ad copy, and continuous optimization lead to significant improvements in lead generation and customer acquisition costs.

Continuous Monitoring and Optimization

Regularly review the performance of search ad campaigns to identify areas for improvement. This involves analyzing metrics such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and the overall return on investment.

Adjustments might include refining the keyword list, tweaking ad copy, or altering the bidding strategy to better meet campaign objectives.

Integrating Video and Search Ads for a Holistic SaaS Marketing Strategy

Synergy Between Video and Search Ads

Integrating video and search ads can enhance the effectiveness of digital marketing efforts by ensuring that potential customers are engaged at various stages of their buying journey.

A holistic approach allows SaaS businesses to maintain visibility and relevance from the initial awareness phase through to decision-making and conversion.

Leveraging Video for Awareness and Search for Conversion

Start by using video ads to create awareness and educate potential customers about the SaaS product.

These ads should focus on broad topics related to the product’s benefits and features.

Follow up with search ads targeted at capturing leads who have shown interest by searching for relevant keywords related to the product.

This method ensures a smooth transition from educating the customer to guiding them toward making a purchase or signing up for a trial.

Cross-Channel Data Utilization

Utilize the insights gained from video ad interactions to refine search ad strategies. For instance, keywords that resonate in video ads can be incorporated into search ad campaigns.

Similarly, engagement data from search ads can inform the content and targeting of subsequent video ads, creating a feedback loop that continually refines both channels.

Recommendations for Balancing Budget and Resources

Determine the allocation of budget and resources based on the specific objectives for each channel.

If brand awareness is a priority, allocate more resources to video ads. If the focus is on conversion, prioritize search ads.

Regularly review the performance of each channel to adjust the distribution of budget to maximize return on investment.

Challenges and Considerations

Budget Constraints

Managing a budget that accommodates both video and search ads can be challenging, especially for SaaS startups or smaller enterprises.

It requires strategic planning to ensure funds are spent efficiently to generate maximum impact across both platforms.

Technical Requirements

Producing high-quality video content typically demands higher technical expertise and resources compared to creating text-based search ads.

Ensuring the technical quality of video ads without overspending requires careful planning and possibly outsourcing to maintain production standards.


In conclusion, while video ads and search ads serve different purposes in the marketing funnel for SaaS businesses, their integrated use can significantly amplify a company’s digital marketing strategy.

Video ads are excellent for generating awareness and engagement, using compelling visuals and narratives to explain complex software solutions.

Search ads, on the other hand, excel in capturing high-intent leads and driving conversions with targeted, text-based messaging.

Facing the challenges of budget management, technical requirements, and compliance with legal standards requires a strategic and informed approach.

By understanding and optimizing the use of both video and search ads, SaaS businesses can effectively attract, engage, and convert their target audience, ultimately leading to sustained growth and success in the competitive digital marketplace.

If you’ve liked this post, be sure to check out our comparison of dynamic search ads vs standard search ads.

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder

Michael Schroder is a Google Ads and SaaS marketing consultant. He has been managing $200k-$300k monthly ad spend and has worked with 200+ SaaS companies. The thing that makes him unique is his data-led approach and his focus on SaaS businesses.