Google v Facebook: which global giant should I advertise with?

Google v Facebook: which global giant should I advertise with?

Google and Facebook are big.  Really big.

Together the two global media giants brought in over $16 billion in advertising revenue in 2012.  With extreme numbers like that, how can your organisation get seen?

And is it worth the effort?

The simple answer is yes.

The platforms

Google and Facebook reach different audiences, and therefore advertising also has different benefits.

Ideally, you would advertise on both for maximum impact. But if your budget can only stretch to one, then which one should you choose?

Audience

Google and Facebook are a huge deal worldwide.  I could rattle off statistics about their global dominance, but I’m going to focus on targeting your audience in Australia.

Google.com and Google.com.au have a combined Australian search market share of over 92%.  Quite simply, if you only want to focus on one search engine, it’s easy to select which one you should use.  Everybody uses Google.

In terms of social media, Facebook is the dominant platform in Australia with over 55% of Australians signed up.  That’s over 11.5 million users.  Compared to LinkedIn (2.9 million) and Twitter (2.2 million) it’s easy to see why a presence on Facebook is compulsory.

Advertising model

Both Google and Facebook Advertising mostly use a Pay Per Click (PPC) model.  That means your ads appear a number of times on users’ screens but you only pay for the times your ad is clicked on.

Neither Facebook nor Google publish their average Click Through Rates (i.e. the number of times someone clicks on an ad per 1,000 views) but at an estimate of around 0.2%, Facebook is much lower than Google which averages around 2.0% CTR.  That said, Facebook’s introduction of news feed ads and sponsored stories has seen remarkably improved results with news feed ads reaching up to 2.2% CTR in Australia.

News feed ads have turned the industry on its head and in some studies, showed up to 50 times higher Click Through Rates than right hand side ads.  Their true effectiveness is because they don’t flood the user and are restricted to one unique ad per user per day.

On top of their search engine dominance, Google’s advertising network also includes YouTube and Gmail; two internationally dominant brands in everyday web use.  Every single time you log on to a computer you will come into contact with some form of a Google ad.

Each of these media contains advertising management platforms where you can control the settings of your ads.  From the budget, to geographic segmentation, to key words, there are many different ways to tailor your campaign.

The platforms work like an auction.  You bid to have an ad placement at any point in time.  The higher you bid, the more likely your results will appear above others.  Both Google and Facebook offer to automatically run these bids for you, a good option when you’re starting out.

Your budget will never run over each month and if your daily budget runs out, you just don’t appear in the results.  The more you get used to the systems, the more you can manually control your own bid maximums for the best results.

So who should I advertise with?

If we had this conversation one year ago, I would have told you that Google provided you with better results, but Facebook has lifted their game in the last year.

So the issue comes down to why you are advertising.

Trying to promote knowledge of your brand?  Facebook is probably the better medium to build your brand.

Selling a particular service or product?  Google is effective at attracting new customers or clients.

The advertising results are different because the two platforms are used for different purposes.

Facebook sessions usually last for much longer, with a primary purpose of socialising with friends and keeping up to date with news from our favourite organisations.   Facebook is great for building an audience and publishing content to people who are obviously interested in your services.

Google search sessions are usually driven by a specific task or interest – people have a specific question and want an answer. The Google searcher will be interested in your advertisement if it is relevant to their search.

For overall reach, Google with its global advertising network is the winner, but for targeted local approaches, Facebook can be inexpensive and effective.

contentgroup experience

What do we use?  contentgroup has used both Google and Facebook Advertising and had success with both.

We find that Google attracts new visitors to our sites who previously were unaware of our services.   We are able to help them out if they get in contact with us.

Facebook advertising helped grow our audience.  Facebook’s targeting tools help us reach people with similar interests to our current followers.  Many have become readers of our regular blogs; ranging in topics from social media, to communications strategies and to marketing methods.

Pulling the trigger

So your advertising choice depends on what you are trying to achieve.

Try both if you can, then evaluate your results to see what works best for your organisation.

If you made it to the end of this blog and still have more questions, get in touch with us and we’ll see what we can do to help.


Each week a staff member puts pen to paper to write about an aspect of content communication that speaks to them, and hopefully, informs you. This is a space where our passion for writing, learning and sharing information comes to shine.

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