While many of our clients are investing in both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, I find that many digital marketing executives haven’t deeply thought about why they are investing in Facebook ads, Google AdWords or both. Secondarily and probably more importantly digital marketers always face the question of which ad medium should the next marginal ad dollar be spent.
For digital marketers, the confusion begins with the deceiving similarities around tactical management. Both Facebook and AdWords offer cost-per-click (CPC) and costs-per-impressions (CPM) bidding with an auction-based system driving the actual costs. Based upon this similarity and on-site analytic tracking, many businesses are able to develop an ROI model for both mediums in order to justify each. If you have reached this maturity, you probably have realized that the ROI models are dramatically different – perhaps both profitable, but different. But why are they different? Is it because you have two agencies, one for AdWords and one for Facebook, and one agency is simply better?
From our experience, the simple answer is that marketers need to be reminded that the sweet spots of Facebook and Google advertising are fundamentally different. With so much media hoopla around these giants, the impression is that they are battling head-on, while we would argue that they are battling more on the fringes then most would admit. Google’s marketing sweet spot is growing market for businesses selling commodity-like products and services. When someone types in any product or service sold by more than one manufacturer or retailer, Google provides the ultimate opportunity for the seller to raise their hand and say, “We have what you are looking for.”
This is true across all products and services whether it is iPads, homeowners insurance, PCs, electronics, clothing or arts and crafts. The key is that Google depends on a user-initiated request and the marketer is just providing a direct response, or as waving your hands wildly saying, “Hey! Over here! We have what you are looking for!” If that prospect doesn’t see you, the marketer loses market share as the prospect simply goes to the next seller who offers the similar product or service.
Facebook’s marketing sweet spot is increasing brand awareness. Facebook offers marketers the ability to say “Have you ever considered product/service?” “Did you know about us?” “Let me tell you about”? In Facebook ads, the marketer is pro-actively choosing the prospect through both their demographic information as well as their interest. Unlike Google search, the prospect here is passive and the marketer is initiating the conversation based upon the prospect’s interest. “Hey, I know you love knitting so have you seen this great new sweater design?” So for businesses providing a unique or little known product/service, Facebook will provide you a mechanism to increase awareness of both your product and your brand.
Let’s get back to those metrics. A retailer who is selling well-known commodity products would compare the results of Google vs. Facebook and would likely say “Facebook’s conversion rate is terrible and Google is much more profitable” to the point where they stop Facebook advertising. Amazon would be a great example of the ultimate commodity retailer – how many Amazon ads have you seen on Facebook? On Google? On the other hand, if you are selling a little known product or service, the marketer will be frustrated that Google provides so little traffic. This is the common frustration of companies providing solutions where prospects might not even realize that a solution exists and thus never searches for that solution.
I am not saying that a marketer cannot use Google for brand awareness or Facebook for selling commodity products; however, I would be willing to bet that the relative success of those campaigns can be predicted by simply acknowledging whether the objective is to grow market share or increase brand awareness. The bigger lesson for marketers may not be Facebook vs. Google, but to be clear about the objectives of their paid media investment.