Facebook Ads versus Google Ads | A benchmark analysis

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads have a lower cost, but tend to have lower clickthrough rates than search ads. Image: Flickr / sorosh / CC-BY

Marketers, be they for small businesses or large, always have limited resources to allocate. When it comes to display advertising, the two big players in this $7.3 billion market are Google and Facebook. In order to maximize the money spent on ad campaigns, it is important to make informed decisions on the networks you choose and how to use them.

Google’s performance benchmarks

Google rarely releases information on the averages and benchmarks of ad performance on its networks. This is for a very good reason: It varies widely. Every industry is different, and every campaign is different.However, several consultant firms have put together averages for Google PPC advertising costs. In 2010, the average cost per click of Google ads was about $1.24, with an average click-through rate of 0.7 to 2 percent. The cost per mil clocks in at about $8.55. Google ads tend to have a very long “shelf life” because the display of the ads is tied to a search that the user types in.

Facebook’s performance benchmarks

Just like Google, the benchmarks of Facebook ad performance vary depending on industry and campaign. According to one WebTrends analysis, during 2010, the average cost per click of Facebook ads was $0.49, with an average click-through rate of .05 to .2 percent. The cost per mil clocks in at about $0.25. Facebook ads have a much shorter shelf life, with average burnout taking only three to five days. Friend-of-fan targeting extended this burnout period to 10 to 15 days.

Making the best use of display advertising

As these raw numbers show, the difference between Facebook and Google ads is significant. The truth is, these display platforms should be used differently, and which one you should use depends on your larger strategy. Facebook ads tend to perform much better for brands that are very social and have an active presence on Facebook. Google display ads can be very effective but must be carefully designed and managed in order to make the best use of the investment. Some combination of both networks is most effective, though the quick turnaround and easy targeting of Facebook ads could provide a testing ground for larger, costlier campaigns on Google or other search/display networks.

However you decide to use an advertising network, large or small, you can maximize the money you do spend by ensuring that you have a compelling message and overall strategy for branding, marketing and identity. Together, all of these things create a brand image that customers have a much higher likelihood of remembering.

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