Two of the most frequently used Web sites in the world today are Facebook and Google. Though they differ in purpose — one is a social network and the other is a search engine – both are visited by millions upon millions of users each day.
For this reason, online advertising is also thriving in both sites, with Google reportedly gaining 96% of its revenues through ads, and Facebook earning 86% of its profits through the same.Indeed, it would be interesting to see how they truly compare in terms of reach, views, format, targeting options, and performance.
With more than 845 million active users per month, Facebook is able to reach just over half or 51% of all Internet users worldwide. Meanwhile, Google, along with Gmail, YouTube, and many other “divisions,” has the capacity to reach much more, up to 91% of all Internet users.
In terms of page views, Facebook is the winner with about one trillion views per month, compared to 180 billion ad impressions made per month in Google. This means that while Google has the wider reach, Facebook has more users that log in repeatedly, thereby exposing them to the same ads each time.
Format of Ads
When it comes to ad format, Facebook offers just two options: the Facebook Ad, containing a title, a brief description, and an image; and Sponsored Stories, which is a recent addition. In contrast, Google has more to offer in terms of format: text advertisements, image ads, advertising in videos, and not to mention ads in mobile web and games.
With regard to ad targeting options, Facebook loses out to Google. While the social network is able to target ads based on a user’s age, education, workplace, location, and “likes” — Google can do a lot more. It can target ads based on a user’s browsing history, perform contextual targeting and retargeting, and place advertisements on its numerous partner sites.
Performance of Ads
Due to its limited formats and targeting options, Facebook has extremely low click-through rates (CTR) at only 0.05% or less. This is just half of what the average CTR is for banner ads in the industry. Google is also way ahead of the social network in terms of analytics tools, which are important in gathering and examining data for ad targeting.
Based on these comparisons, it appears that Google is the champion over Facebook, with regard to online advertising capabilities. However, it can also be noted that the social network possesses huge potential in expanding its advertising options. The question remains: Will it continue to perform primarily as a way for “connecting people”? Or will it also open its doors wider to the online ad industry? Truly, only time can truly tell.