Local Online Advertising Case Study: Facebook Vs. Google Adwords

Below is a case study on Facebook vs. Google Adwords traffic on a local level.

For our case study we sent traffic from both Facebook ads and Google Adwords to MyEstateManager.com. Below we’ll compare the data from each source and discuss the unique advantages of Facebook, as compared to Search Engine ad networks. Below are graphs of Impressions vs CPM for both Google and Facebook paid traffic over a six day period. Note: Impressions are the vertical axis, and CPM is the horizontal one. Google traffic is represented by an “Estate” ad group that contained keywords closely related to estate management. Facebook traffic is represented by advertisements that were directed at the demographics we had identified as being the most common customer of MyEstateManager. What we found was that Google Adwords has far more competition between advertisers than Facebook Ads. On the low end of Google’s price spectrum for our targeted keywords, we were able to get 7000 impressions in a day at a $1.6CPM. Compare that to Facebook, and we were able to get targeted traffic at equal volume for under $.15CPM – that’s less than 1/10th the CPM on Google! +1 Facebook

 The bounce rates between the networks varied a bit as well. Google Adwords maintained a bounce rate of 48.38%, while Facebook’s was 41.54%. +1 Facebook

 Elasticity of both curves is important to note as well. Facebook’s curve is exponential, while Google’s is basically linear. Key Factors: One reason for that is the difference between network ad space and placement. Google has 10 ad placements on the first page, while Facebook advertisements only have the chance to appear in about 3 different spots. You can steadily bid up on Google to increase your ad position, while all the inventory on Facebook is divided amongst a few placements—if you aren’t showing up in these, you aren’t showing up at all.

Another factor is competition; Facebook doesn’t have nearly as many publishers competing for the ad space, so a small change in Facebook CPM will make a greater difference than the same change in Google CPM. Facebook Targeting as an Alternative to Search Engine Targeting There is other value in expanding advertising campaigns to Facebook that separates it from other Search Engine ad networks.

 In Facebook, users self-identify (gender, age, vocation, interests, etc) and can be targeted by who they are. Search Engines, such as Google restrict you to primarily targeting keywords, which means you target people based off of what they are looking for. That can lead to some difficulties depending on what your strategy is; for example, if you are a company that does primarily B2B marketing you may have keywords that show up in both B2B oriented searches and in consumer searches—take the keyword ‘cell phone cases,’ for example, a business that makes cell phone cases that are sold through other stores (Best Buy, Radio Shack, etc) wants to get business from people who will buy from them in bulk. They’re not interested in Joe Teenager who wants a shiny new case for his iPhone. On Google, it’s difficult to to screen out Joe Teenager and get John Executive Purchaser. On Facebook, because of the self-identification data, it may be a bit easier.

 Target your viewers effectively:

Below are several targeting tips to apply to your Facebook campaigns.

#1 Separate your ads to target males and females separately: men and women will almost always click at different patterns.

#2 Tighten your age groups: instead of targeting all males or all females, narrow it down to 4 or 5 years apart max. Different ages require varying ad copy as well.

#4 Make your users feel like your product is up to date. A good way of doing this is mentioning the month in your ad copy, or even related current events.



1. Facebook PPC 5 Times Cheaper

Yup, you heard me right, Facebook cost per click rates are 5 times less than Google’s content network cost per click rates in my tests. However, let’s put that in perspective. For my technology client targeting educators, we targeted by country as well as “interest” keyword. This means that if the word “teacher” or “teaching” appeared in a Facebook user’s profile (description of interests or other areas), then their ad would show. This is quite a passive approach to advertising based on user demographic information vs keyword ads shown to searches with an “intent” to research or purchase a product or service.

2. Facebook Ad Click Rates Lower

When you look at click-through rates (an indicator of response, but less important than cost per lead or sale), Facebooks click-through rates are only moderately lower than Google’s. This is true for a number of reasons;

  • Google allows advertisers to cherry pick content sites where ads display
  • Facebook Ads show only on facebook, where the focus is interaction with friends, vs reviewing site content
  • Keywords shown on a Facebook user’s profile may not truly represent interests in content, whereas Google content sites are crawled for a required keyword density

3. Facebook Can Pre-qualify Traffic

If you are looking to run a B2C product specific campaign, then Facebook gives you the benefit of low cost pay-per-click advertising, with targeting based on demographics. With Facebook, you can target by age, gender, education, relationship and even social interaction with a specific application. Google’s content network can only target traffic by geography and language. So, if your product only relates to young single adults with an interest in music, then Facebook can delivery that target well. You can select Google content placement sites by keyword, or site itself, but still, getting demographically targeted traffic is not a real option.

4. Buying CPM Better on Google

Both Facebook and Google provide a CPM option to buy impressions vs clicks which is great. However, in my experience, when using Google’s content network CPM buying, I’ve found that often I can get a far lower cost per lead rate with B2B offers vs using CPC buys. This is especially the case when you cherry pick sites on Google’s content network, vs just take your chances by selecting keywords. Facebook CPM buying really is more risky since you can only control demographics, but not context of the ads very well.

5. Google Ad Format Testing Far Superior

When comparing ad testing functionality, there really is no comparison – Google is by far better. Google allows you to test text, image and video ads against each other. It has an Optimizer tool that suggests ways to improve click-throughs with your ads. You can get reporting that shows which ads are performing better, and weight impressions automatically towards better performing ads. Facebook is awkward when testing new ads, and makes you create a new ad/campaign for each country you are targeting. Editing ads and creatives after posting for approval is also more cumbersome. When you add Google Analytics and conversion tracking into the mix, Google again prevails. Facebook really needs to integrate a system for tracking conversions, since this is standard these days for any online campaign to be effective.

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