Google AdWords vs Facebook Ads

The reason for Facebook’s recent changes is not a big mystery. It’s quite obvious that the social media giant is implementing changes left and right in an effort to increase their appeal to businesses and advertisers. We can’t fault Facebook for their approach, it is a business after all, and Zuckerberg and company have never once tried to hide said fact.

Currently, it is estimated that Facebook will take in more than $4.2 billion worldwide in 2012, with the large part of it (roughly $3.8 billion) coming directly from advertising revenue. It is also no secret that big sales revenues come from a multitude of smaller businesses.

The same is true for Facebook’s main competitor, Google, which is currently improving its AdWords platform in order to target the same demographic as Facebook. According to online marketing firm WordStream’s CEO, Larry Kim, Facebook Ads and AdWords are similar services but very different advertising paradigms. And if you’re wondering which service to us, the following guidelines can help guide you to the right decision.

A Small Disclaimer

We are comparing Facebook Ads and Google AdWords, but there’s no hard fast rule that says you can’t use both advertising services, nor are they the only options available in the market. But it is a good idea to take a look at both services because of the audience they command.

Recent Study

The advertising rates of Facebook rose by 40 percent this year but the click through rates fell by 8 percent. However, it should be noted that Facebook does not publish any official report on the CTRs. Figures of their CTRs come from third party sources.

Following the decision of General Motors to pull out its $10M worth of ads from Facebook because they didn’t work, a lot got interested in measuring how effective Facebook Ads really are and how they do compared to Google Ads.

Some of the major findings include: 2012 Q1 Revenue of Google Ads is $2.9 Billion, while Facebook has $1.06 Billion Average CTR of Facebook is .051 percent to Google’s .4 percent. Google Advertisers drive around 20 percent of their conversion through Google Ads.

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There are a few things that are similar to Facebook and Google’s advertising platforms, such as their massive potential audience, and the fact that both are basically PPC (pay per click) advertising channels even though they also offer CPM (Cost Per Impression) platforms.

Additionally, they both use systems that are mostly self-service for smaller advertiser, as well as channels that offer free marketing tools, such as Google Places and Facebook Pages. However, another one of their similarities – that of the ability to target very specific market segments, is where the differences between the two platforms start.

Facebook does not allow for mobile advertising options, retargeting options, partner sites, and keyword-based contextual targeting options, at least until now.

Advertising Intent

One of the key questions you need to ask yourself when choosing between Facebook Ads and Google Adwords is “What is my goal?” The reason is simple. The Web audience use Google and Facebook differently – they check their Facebook accounts and they search Google, not the other way around. Depending on what you want to achieve in your marketing campaign, one or the other will be a better fit.

For instance, an average Facebook session lasts much longer than a typical Google Search, so Facebook Ads are better if you want to build brand awareness or get a specific message across. Facebook Ads is also better if said message is targeted towards a certain audience, such as fans of a specific movie or TV show, or an alumni group. It’s not impossible to achieve the same targeted people-centric campaigns through Google’s Adwords, but it would be more difficult to do.

However, when it comes to pure web searches, Google is the clear king and Facebook can’t hope to touch it. This means Google Adwords is more suited to driving actual clicks and conversions around specific services and products. It all comes down to intent – while Facebook users are only checking up on status updates and posting photos, Google searches are specifically searching for keywords and have a clear goal.

Basically, Facebook Ads are better suited to building brands or delivering a message to a target group over a longer period of time, while Google AdWords provides an easier way to capture consumers that are dead set on buying specific products or services.

Now I would like to know which one you prefer and why.

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