[Special Feature] Facebook Vs. Google: The Online Advertising War Reaches 2013

The constantly shifting spotlight from Facebook Ads to Google Display Network (GDN) often gives businesses a case of severe monetary whiplash. The stress of having to keep up with which ad network is better for your business continues, as both sides implement extensive changes to the way they function. Especially with the launch of Facebook Graph, there are many new concepts that business and marketers should consider.

Here is a quick summary of where both ad networks stand in the relevant areas which may help shape up your advertising allegiance for 2013.

1. Ad Formats

VERDICT: Google Display Network wins. They offer more variety, especially interactive Flash and video ads, which Facebook doesn’t offer. Mobile ad options are also much better via the GDN.

2. Targeting Options

VERDICT: Google wins hands down because of their access to mobile and tablet devices and the massive audience that it opens up the ads to. Not to mention the sheer quantity of affiliate websites on the GDN, which allows for highly contextual targeting.

3. Overall Reach and Performance

VERDICT: Google is clearly doing far better here too. However, the type of reach is completely different with both ad networks. Facebook is a closed social network with better impressions and the ability to capitalize on ‘word-of-mouth’ sentiments through sponsored stories which no other ad network does better. Depending on your advertising needs, this could be extremely valuable.

4. User Behavior

This is perhaps the area where Facebook is facing a lot of heat. Simply put, Google is a search engine where people are looking for a product or a service. As a response to the search, GDN displays ads of products and services that are relevant to them. The ads are supplying a demand that exists.

Facebook on the other hand is a social network website where people aren’t normally looking for the product that is being advertised to them. It’s not to say that they may not want it, but it can be argued that the frame of mind of the viewer towards the ad isn’t as accepting.

Verdict: Times are changing. It’s not long before the recent launch of Facebook Graph will completely change the way Facebook ads will function. Currently Facebook Graph doesn’t show ads in the search. However, the possibility of activating that feature (hopefully soon) will take the concept of displaying ads through online referrals to the next level. For now, Google wins this one too.

And so…

Even despite the 4 out of 4 score for Google, the struggle between choosing Facebook ads over Google ads is still a common one for businesses. As you can see, there are specific advantages and disadvantages with both ad networks that might help you make a choice. However what looks good on paper isn’t necessarily the most practical decision for your business. The best place to start is by penning down a list of goals that you want to achieve from your advertising campaigns. Especially if you are a small business and handling your own advertising, even something as simple as being more comfortable and fluent with backend functionalities will have much more of an impact on your advertising results than you think. Facebook is far easier to manage on the back-end than Google is which often makes it easier to optimize.

At the beginning of 2013, it stands that Google, in my mind, wins as ‘the‘ advertising network. Its sheer variety in Ad formats and the large network of affiliate websites, not to mention its very raison d’etre (it’s a search engine!) just proves too formidable an arsenal for any current combatants in today’s online ad wars. But you never quite know when the tides might change.





3 Responses to “[Special Feature] Facebook Vs. Google: The Online Advertising War Reaches 2013”

  1. February 11, 2013 at 3:17 pm #

    We have done advertising of several companies, both on Google as well as on facebook. We have found google better than facebook, in several cases.

    But if your product/services is something which is “nice to have”, then facebook scores better.

    • Pooja Shah
      February 12, 2013 at 1:51 am #

      Hi Bhishm, Facebook does work better than Google if you’re trying to build a brand. With the “nice to have” product/services, perhaps people aren’t going out to actively search for them and that’s why Facebook works better.

  2. Vish
    February 12, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Great article, very insightful. As a user, I just find the quality of fb ads to be quite poor a lot of the time. For me, I think social media platforms are more about engaging with customers and less about selling product at that point, so perhaps to be really effective you need to embrace both fb and google but be clear in their respective uses and what goals you want to achieve which will drive the type of marketing you do; e.g. ads through google to encourage purchases, ads on fb to generate brand awareness/ love. Which is pretty much what you say in your conclusion :)

Leave a Comment

+ 8 = twelve