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In an Advertising Battle Between Facebook and Google, Who Wins?

We’ve guided many clients on their first forays into online advertising, and we’ve noticed that a lot of times folks want to jump into a network just because they’ve heard it’s popular.

Well. Popularity and success don’t necessarily mean the same thing — particularly when it comes to marketing.

Wordstream recently put out an excellent infographic that compares the two largest online display advertising networks, Facebook and Google, and grades them across five features — advertising reach, revenues/growth, advertising performance, ad targeting options, and ad formats. I won’t spoil the nuanced details for you, but Google ends up the clear champion.

A takeaway that’s easy to overlook is that direct comparisons can’t necessarily be drawn between Google and Facebook. The two networks have key differences and compositions. Facebook wasn’t built as an advertising/marketing platform, it was built as a place to connect with peers. So the setup is limiting to advertising — but so is the mentality. People don’t typically visit Facebook with the intention of purchasing something, as they might do when searching Google.

That said, you don’t necessarily need to write Facebook out of your display advertising strategy forever. Take the story of an acquaintance of mine who runs a local festival. The audience he’s targeting doesn’t typically search for keywords associated with his festival. They wouldn’t necessarily find his website through a search engine. His particular marketing needs are better served by targeting people based on their location and “likes” in the context of socializing with their friends — friends they’ll likely plan on attending the festival with. In his case, Facebook may be a better advertising match than Google.

Our advice? Know your product, know your audience’s behavior, and know your end goals — then choose the advertising network that best fits them.

Read on for the results of the Facebook v. Google display ad battle.

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