Display Ad Battle Royale: Google Versus Facebook

By Posted in - Blog & Site Traffic Control on December 26th, 2012 0 Comments

With over a billion search queries entered every day from people in 181 countries around the globe, one would think that Google Advertising would have an edge even over the power house that is Facebook. This, however, may not be as much of a slam dunk as it would appear.

A recent post by digital marketing company eMarketer predicted that in 2012 paid search and banner ads would constitute 71% of all US online ad spending. With so much capital flooding the market it is easy to see why there is such stiff competition between the two online juggernauts and why the tides are quick to turn in either’s favor, especially when it comes to display advertising.

Google – The King of Search

With regard to search advertising it is easy to see why Google remains the heavyweight contender. When we are in need of a product or a particular service, we turn to a search engine such as Google to tell us where to go or who to call. By doing so we are actively seeking organic and paid results alike.

On a social networking site such as Facebook, however, signing in with the intention of shopping or finding a local plumber to fix your clogged toilet is not quite as high on the user’s list of priorities as oh, let’s say posting the internet meme of the second or updating their profile picture.

The Power of Facebook

CNBC conducted a survey in June 2012 showing that of those Facebook users polled 83% did not pay attention to ads while the remaining 17% that did ranging from sometimes to frequently. While this figure may bode poorly for those companies interested in testing the Facebook Advertising waters, it is first important to consider the power that 17% may have in influencing their friends.

Co-founder of technology marketing company comScore, Gian Fulgoni stated in an interview with CNBC that advertising on Facebook has a direct impact on consumer behavior. By establishing a brand on the social network and subsequently developing a fan base, a message gets disseminated to their friends and if the average fan has almost 100 friends there is the potential for quite a significant effect.  As Fulgoni put it, “a message coming from someone you know is more persuasive than if that message comes from the brand itself.”

While this lends credence to the notion that “free” advertising is ripe for the picking on Facebookvia dedicated fans, what about the realm of display advertising?

Display: Google Vs. Facebook

In 2011, comScore’s third quarter report showed that Facebook had edged out the competition in the battle for advertising dollars by beating out Google and Yahoo and claiming 15% total spent online. Additionally, despite the fact that more people visit Google on a daily basis, the same study also showed that Facebook was responsible for 28% of all display ads seen online in the US.

Fast forward to the most recent numbers which showed that in 2011 Google was down, but not out of the display advertising game. Due to a surge in the growth of both Facebook and Google, display advertising revenue is up across the board and according to a forecast made by eMarketer, Google once again reigns supreme claiming 39% of the revenue (or $2.31 billion dollars) to Facebook’s 24% ($1.73 billion).

Mobile Devices Driving Display

So, you may be wondering where this display ad revenue surge came from. The answer, a report by eMarketer says, is due to a major boost in advertisements being run on mobile devices. In the past, many who have attempted to get their message across on the small screen have found it to be tricky, and perhaps only made the effort because the cost per click was so low. 2012 has shown that on the contrary while mobile advertising still makes up but a fraction of online advertising, its numbers are currently up to $4 billion (up from $1.45 billion in 2011).

Utilizing Both Facebook and Google

For the moment Google is sitting pretty in the search and display advertising game, but there is still much one can learn from utilizing data provided by Facebook that is not so easily acquired by running display ads on Google alone.

Some companies have found in the past that display ads were not as successful as search, citing issues such as they seemed to get lost on the path to reaching the targeted demographic.  For companies who are contemplating investing in a display advertising campaign, or for those who have tried and failed in the past, it may be wise to first run ads on Facebook.

Unlike Google AdWords, a Facebook display campaign can be set up to target your audience beyond the confines of their state or region. Ads can be tailor made to appear to a specific gender, age and other specialized interests. The information gleaned from your Facebook campaign can be used to create highly targeted ad groups in Google AdWords gearing ads, keywords and even landing pages towards a specialized group of people.

While the title for top dog in the display advertising world seems to be ever-changing, a new flood of revenue in the mobile advertising avenue is sure to make for an interesting year ahead. One thing is for certain: never rule out a platform to advertise based solely on its popularity at the time, instead harness its strengths and apply them toward making your campaign as successful as it can possibly be.

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