Using Paid Advertising to Market Your CCR&R Agency

August 06, 2018

If you're like most child care resource and referral agencies, you want to get the word out about your agency so that providers, families, and community partners know about your agency and the services you provide, but you have just a small advertising budget to work with. Paid online advertising is a great place to start. Jumping into paid ads can seem overwhelming at first, but it doesn’t have to be. In this post, we’ll break down the two main kinds of paid advertising—paid search and paid social—to help you decide where to begin.

Paid Search Ads

Paid search ads (often called Pay-Per-Click, or PPC, ads) are the ads that often show up as the top results on a search engine result page. The look a lot like any of the other results on the page but are differentiated by a little box that says, “Ad.” In this post, I’ll refer to Google ads only, but you can also run these same types of ads on Bing or Yahoo. Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is free to initially set up—you just have to pay for the ads themselves.

These types of ads are excellent for getting traffic to your website from people who are already searching for websites similar to yours. This is great because you know that they are already interested in the services that you provide. 

PPC advertising essentially works as a bidding system where you bid on keywords that trigger your ad to display when someone searches that term in Google. You pay Google a small fee each time someone clicks on your keyword. The more commonly searched the words are, the more expensive they will be to bid on because there is more competition from other advertisers.   

In 2017, the most expensive keywords included “business services,” “bail bonds,” and “casinos,” which cost advertisers $55-60 every time a user clicked on their ad. The good news for CCR&Rs is that keywords related to child care are much less expensive. The average cost-per-click for all keywords is between $1-2 and can be even less. It’s generally less expensive to pay for what’s called “long-tail keywords,” which are search terms that are specific phrases rather than a broad word. For example, the keyword “child care” might cost $2.30/click, but “infant child care in Kansas City” might only be $.40/click.

In addition to selecting your keywords, you’ll also enter other pieces of information while creating a new ad campaign. First, you have the option to select a specific geographic region (by country, city, state, or postal code) you want your audience to be located in. Then, you can change the language in which your audience speaks (you could run one ad in Spanish, and another in English).

Finally, before you create the ad itself, you’ll be asked to select your budget and length of time you want your ad to run. Remember, the budget is how much you’re spending each day. If you want to spend no more than $300 in a month, you’d want to set your daily budget to $10. Google will stop showing your ads when you’ve gotten $10 worth of clicks for that day. However, if people don’t click on your ad very often, you may spend way less than your daily budget. For example, you could set a $100/day budget, but if only 2 people click on your ad that day, you might only spend $2.

Once you’ve set your region, language, budget, and timeframe, it’s time to write your ad. One of the most surprising challenges to creating PPC ads is the character limit. Each line of text is limited to a certain number of characters. The first two lines (the blue text before and after the “|”) can contain a  maximum of 30 characters. The description (gray text below the blue text) can have a maximum of 80 characters. It can be really hard to sufficiently describe your organization in so few words, so you may have to get creative.

Google Ads Example

In this example, I searched, “Child care near me” in Google and got these PPC ads at the top of my browser.

If your organization is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, you may be eligible for Google Ad Grants. This program from Google gives nonprofits $10,000 a month to spend on text search ads. The program does limit some of the advance features of Google Ads, but you can still create the ads that are described above.

Social Media Ads

The second type of ads are social media ads, which work a little differently than PPC ads but can still be very effective. Instead of relying on keyword bidding, you pay the social media platform to show the ad in front of a targeted audience’s feed. Usually, you have the option to pay by impression, or views, or pay by click. In this blog post, I’ll focus on Facebook, but LinkedIn and Twitter have very similar features when it comes to advertising. 

Social media ads can serve two purposes. You can target people who are likely to have already heard of your organization and advertise new trainings, events, services to your current fanbase. Or, you can target people who are less likely to have familiarity with your brand but may potentially be interested, helping you expand your audience. Before creating your first social media ad, you should decide what the purpose of your ad should be—expanding your audience or targeting your current customer base.

Facebook’s targeting features are robust. You can filter your audience by age, sex, location, job title, company, interests, or even other page “likes.” For example, you could ask Facebook to show your ad to 20-45 year old women in Denver, CO, who work at the largest companies in the area AND who have liked your page. Conversely, you could broaden your audience to all men in the United States. Facebook will show you approximately how many people you could reach with your audience and budget. The most effective ads strike a balance in their targeted demographic—not so big that you’re paying to reach uninterested people, but not so small that you won’t see results.

Facebook Ad Example

Facebook also has a lot of options when it comes to the design of your ad. The basic ad includes one photo, a headline, and a description. The headline does have a 40 character limit, but the text is much less limited by length than a paid search ad with a 200 character limit. Other ad types include a carousel (pictured here), which has several photos that users can click through; video ads; slideshows, a video loop of several images; and more.

There are also some limitations to the audience target if you are advertising employment opportunities, schooling, or housing because Facebook wants to ensure that your ads comply with equal opportunity laws.  


One advertising strategy isn't better or worse than the other. PPC ads and social media ads are both fantastic ways to drive traffic to your site and increase brand awareness. If you have the budget, try both and see what works best with your audience. If your budget is limited and you need to choose, think about you're trying to achieve and use the tips in this post to choose the platform that makes the most sense for your agency.



3.5 billion search queries every day

1.55 billion monthly active users

Tends to be slightly more expensive

Tends to be slightly more affordable

Limitations on amount of text

Can include more text in the description, but text can not fill up more than 20% of images use=

Text only

Images + text

Focuses on keywords

Focuses on audience


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Topics: Business Operations for CCR&Rs

Meghan Cornwell

Written by Meghan Cornwell

Meghan Cornwell has seven years of experience doing marketing in the field of early childhood education. She came to CCAoA in 2018 and is excited to combine her background in digital marketing with her passion for advocating for high-quality child care. Meghan received her Bachelor’s degree in Communications and Theatre from Virginia Wesleyan University.