Why Google Ads Work & Facebook Ads Don’t

Facebook a Marketeers Dream

Facebook a Marketeers Dream

Facebook is a marketeers dream.

With over 1 billion users logging in worldwide each month it is one of the largest closed marketing channels in the world.

It’s no wonder that the shares were oversubscribed when the company went public in May 2012 with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion.

The business potential was too great to ignore.

Although more and more companies are finding it increasingly difficult to get commercial leverage and obtain an ROI from marketing activity on Facebook.

Around the same time as the IPO, General Motors pulled their ads due to a lack of return. And they aren’t the only ones to find Facebook is not laying the promised “Golden Egg”.

Facebook is Broken

Facebook is a social platform, it’s a place where friends and family exchange photos, jokes and have semi-private discussions. You go on Facebook for entertainment and social interaction, when doing so you leave behind a trail of data that identifies your likes, dislikes, wants and wishes. From what music you listen to, to your favourite breakfast cereal.

Marketing companies can then tap into this data, known as the Opengraph, and attempt to show you relevant ads or posts. The problem being that that decision is usually being made by a human, based on wide assumptions that a person liking A and connected to B will like product Z.

Combine this with the intent of the visitor, on Facebook it’s largely to interact with friends and family, then getting them to divert them from their original goal can be difficult.

This is interruption marketing but without the big glossy ads.

Google is Intelligent

If ads don’t work on Facebook why are similar ads, ones that don’t even have images, so effective on Google? The key difference is intent.

Yes marketeers are still making decisions about where their ads appear, relevance, but now it is based on search phrases rather than complex data mining.

With Google Ads, intent is the key ingredient, and intent is determined by the phrase used by the searcher. Match your relevant ad with intent, and achieving an ROI is a lot easier.

Facebook knows this and is playing catchup by introducing it’s ads to it’s own search results, although I fear the intent of a search on Facebook is going to be very different from that of one on Google.

The “Cheap Red Rucksack”

If you have cheap red rucksacks to sell, all you need to do on Google is to get your ad to display when this phrase is used, and with decent copy you stand a good chance of a click. If the ad then leads to a page with cheap red rucksacks on it’s likely you will sell one.

On Facebook you have to work out who may be interested in cheap red rucksacks. Someone that goes camping or to festivals or is about to go on holiday perhaps?

Even if you know they fit one of these criteria, you have no idea about the colour, price preference, or if they even need for a rucksack. So good copy in this type of ad on Facebook may result in a click, but that is just as likely to be out of curiosity as it is out of intent to buy.

Social Advertising Needs to Grow Up

As the social platforms look to find ways to monetise themselves their advertising models are adapting but they are still stuck in interruption mode. The issue is that interruption advertising is exactly the opposite dynamic that makes social media marketing work so effectively.

It may be no coincidence then that Google hasn’t yet introduced Adwords on to Google+. It would be very easy to do, instead it has adapted Google Places into Google+ Local and integrated Zagat reviews, a much softer approach.

Social platforms are for building authority, trust and relationships. For interacting with colleagues, friends and family. A boon for niche interest groups and activists. Above all “social” is one of the best ways to reach potential customers and build long term loyalty, using technology for the co-creation of value.

We can’t continue with the same ad models, in a space that doesn’t support them; a solution is out there, it just hasn’t matured yet, or has it?

If you need help with your online marketing then please get in touch, for a free initial consultation call Sean today on 07850957506.

About Sean Clark

Building successful online companies since 1999, we help you market your business online. Whether you need help with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Paid Search (PPC) or Social Media Marketing call us today on 01603 343477 for a free initial consultation.

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  • Guest

    Typical sweeping generality from someone who obviously has specialized in SEO/SEM for years and is now having to learn Facebook ads. It doesn’t work for everyone, this is true. But it CERTAINLY does work for many, many different kinds of companies, and you may want to check out any of the numerous success stories which prove this to be true: https://www.facebook.com/FacebookStudio/app_397409610271055

  • Hmmm… not quite right about my background, but understand why you may think that.

    In fact I believe social, including Facebook, can be an important part of an online marketing campaign. When used in the right way.
    Your examples are impressive, but frankly are virtually all big brands. Something I see all too often in the Facebook space; maybe because Big Brands are used to interruption marketing? Or maybe because the Brand is carrying the ad?
    With quotes like “…after combining Facebook Ads with a TV campaign”, is typical Brand mentality…
    “Let’s run a TV campaign to drive consumers to Facebook, where they will see our Ad, and click on it to go to our website.” – Really!!
    How about create content of value online in the social space, or otherwise, to encourage customers to engage with our brand to increase recommendation and loyalty? Win Win!

    Anyway I digress, this post was all about the psychology of the searcher. The fact that relevance alone, Facebook Opengraph, doesn’t necessarily lead to action. You need intent.

    Currently you cannot see that intent very well on Facebook, but you can do a better job on Google. Even with Facebook search, the intent is likely to be skewed so the Ads are less effective.

    Do they work for some? Maybe.

    Would I recommend them? If the client had other content with value within the Facebook platform, but I would suggest for many there is lower hanging fruit to be had elsewhere, at least in the short term.

    Facebook Ads are not so

  • Brian D. Meeks

    I would have never figured this out on my own. Soon, I’ll have my second novel ready to sell and I was considering both platforms, but now I think I don’t need to mess with FB.

    Thanks for explaining why one works and the other doesn’t, because I’m the sort that wants to know why.

  • @briandmeeks:disqus There may still be worth in having a Facebook page yourself as an author, but you may find a platform like GoodReads is more beneficial as it is dedicated to books.

    GoodReads has direct integration with Facebook through it’s app http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/29/goodreads-facebook-timeline/ which can give you even more leverage.

  • I disagree with this post, but clearly describes the differencies between Google and Facebook advertising

  • @011Bojan:disqus thanks for your opinion, in what way do you disagree?

  • Facebook has been shown as insanely great for advertising the dating websites. My former company made tons of money by Facebook ads, and they are still pushing them regularly, which means that it’s creating great revenue.

    I’ve also personally found that Facebook is indispensable part of the marketing mix, and acts more like mass media channel (Television, Radio, Billboards) and absolutely rocks in that kind of environment.

    My clients were really happy with the insane number of fans that they’ve got pretty cheap on our market.

    Now the next step is the newsfeed advertising, which allows you to target your community directly. You can target 10 000 people for as cheap as 5-10$, which is laughable. (At least in my market).

    Facebook is not inferior, it’s just different. And unlike Google, it’s form of advertising is bringing different kind of ROI. Making it a little bit more long term, than Google click.

    You would have to calculate the lifetime of a subscriber (fan), and how much money he will spend over the course of time, being the fan.

    My word of advice would be to always try out impression marketing (CPM), where you are charged for 1000 views, rather than for the clicks.

    My 2 cents. Best regards

  • @011Bojan:disqus thank you for taking the time to expand on your opinion.

    Firstly, do you think the dating market may be more of a match for Facebook ads compared to my example?

    For me the key part of your view is that “Facebook is not inferior, it’s just different…” and “…acts more like mass media channel”.

    I agree, it is different, and I think you have probably in part answered my final question!


  • I agree with you partly, Sean. Facebook Ads work, but like everything else, it depends on your field.

  • @cendrinemedia:disqus yes, there are certainly some caveats in there.

  • Pingback: Facebook Marketing: It’s Time To Pay The Price()

  • I would have thought that actually Facebook would be ideal for you to advertise on, as you can target people who like pages for authors and books in your genre. In fact I would say even more so than Google Brian?

  • @clairejarrett:disqus with Google you get intent, so your can target people actively looking to buy through careful selection of key phrases. As you rightly suggest Facebook can be used to target ads at potential readers, but you have no intent so need to rely on your ads raising awareness ready for when they are in purchase mode.

    Goodreads on the other-hand allows you to get involved directly in discussions with readers in your genre or even of your very own books. This can have the effect of building a strong relationship directly with your audience, which is likely to grow loyalty.

    Google & Facebook Ads are quicker and cost money, whereas Goodreads is free, in cash terms, but more of a long term strategy and requires more involvement.

    If it were me, I would try a combination of all three and measure the effectiveness of each.

  • U. B. Red

    There just needs to be one or two VERY LARGE skyscraper ads, beautiful, engaging, as sponsors, on the Facebook newsfeed page. Get rid of all the annoying, uninteresting, little, pixelated boxes that no one ever clicks. Get big companies to contract for these sponsorship placements.

  • Now that would make some sense.

  • Bogdan


    I have a little problem with facebook ads. After i start
    my campaign everything works ok, but when someone clicks on my ad the
    visitor is getting to a facebook page and it says ” The link you are
    trying to visit has been classified as potentially abusive by Facebook
    partners.” And you have two options (buttons) Ignore this warning and
    Return to previous page. The problem is that nobody is getting on my
    website but facebook already took my money for thoes clicks. I already
    post a message to FB support but still no answear. Anyone have a
    solution for this problem?