Thursday, February 16, 2012

Facebook Ads versus Google Adwords

Facebook Ads versus Google Adwords

I recently set out to gain some exposure to Water Marquee through online advertising, and decided to try both Facebook Ads and Google Adwords, and found the results to be pretty interesting.  While both let you target your ads, each goes about it in a different way - and achieve very different results.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads let you target people who have expressed an interest in a subject, so for Water Marquee, a photo watermarking web application, I targeted anyone living in predominately English-speaking countries who had expressed an interest in photography, amateur photography, photography, or cameras. Facebook helpful told me that this ad could apply to any of 28 million Facebook users.

Facebook Ads versus Google Adwords
One of the 4 ads in my first Facebook Ad campaign.

For each campaign you run, you select your daily budget and whether you want to pay for impressions (CPM - how many people will see your ad) or for clicks (CPC - how many people click on your ad).  I went with CPC since I didn't know how well the ad would do, and didn't want to pay for ad views that didn't perform.

I ran three different campaigns on Facebook, trying to improve my Click Through Rate (CTR) based on advice, I found online, but my CTR actually got worse.  Cat photos aren't a surefire winner.

Campaign Impressions Clicks CTR CPC Spent
Green vs Orange 374,430 39 0.010% $1.03 $40.00
Nice Pic 446,847 39 0.009% $1.03 $40.00
Cat Watermarks 408,411 29 0.007% $1.38 $40.00
Total/Avg 1,229,688 107 0.009% $1.12 $120.00


Google Adwords

Adwords works by targetting keywords that people are searching for on Google, so you get to advertise to people who are actively looking for information on a subject.

I went after keywords like"watermark photos" and "create a watermark", and Google helpfully suggested many others. I ended up selecting 93 keywords to target.

The Cost Per Click varies by keyword, and I avoided some of the higher priced ones so that I could get more clicks for a cheaper price. Seemed like a good idea, but on reflection lowering my maximum bid for a click probably lowed down my ad placement (lower price = shows up further down the screen in a group of vertical ads).

Impressions Clicks CTR CPC Spent
21,806 93 0.43% $0.54 $50.36



On a per-click basis, Google cost less than half as much as Facebook, but it's not really an apples-to-apples comparison.

Facebook, as a social website, includes metrics on Social Impressions - the number of ads that were shown to users that had text like "Your friend Bob likes this." That kind of social currency could go a LONG way towards getting a user to click on an ad, but it helps to already have a large fan base. I got a total of 18 Social Impressions across my campaigns.  Also, Facebook had a way better CPM metric ($0.10 per 1,000 views) compared to Google ($0.44 per 1,000 views).

Your results will certainly vary from mine. Facebook seems to be a good choice if you're trying to build buzz or already have an existing fan base, Google Adwords may be a better choice if you don't.