We read a great article this week, comparing paid ads on Google’s display network to paid ads on Facebook, listing some of the pros and cons of both: Facebook vs Google Display Advertising. The outcome of the comparison had some interesting results, with several factors in Google’s favour, and the authors themselves picking Google as the winner. In fact comparing statistics of important variable such CTR between the two shows the performance of ads on Google’s display network continues to improve, while performance of paid ads on Facebook is on the decline.

So why is it, when Facebook is the biggest social media network in the world, with virtually endless data from measuring trends and statistics of internet use, that they are going backwards? With so much faith being placed in Social Media Marketing becoming a real competitor for Adwords Marketing, have Facebook stuffed it up?

Firstly, let’s discuss what’s good about Facebook ads, which is the power of targeting demographics. Now this is an excellent feature. Depending on who your campaign is targeting, Facebook advertising lets you specify criteria at a fantastic level. Not only can you select the location and age of who sees your ad, but you can select their relationship status, as well as specific interests in the form of ‘likes’. For example, if you are a wholesaler of bottled water, you could run your ad to only appear for people who have listed ‘Flouride Action Network’ in their ‘likes’. With features like this Facebook advertising has great potential for targeting very specific users with specific interests, that will be much more likely to engage with your business. You can add negatives also. For example say you have built up a solid fan page of your own on Facebook, you can select an option so that your ad does NOT appear for people connected to your page. This way your ad will specifically target people outside your usual reach.

There are some other advantages Facebook has over Google, in that you can choose whether to pay per click or per impression, and you have some other options to choose from also, such as displaying when people’s friends have connected with a page related to an ad. So what’s holding Facebook advertising back? And why is it not performing as well as Google display ads? There are several factors we believe have contributed to this, and they are ones which will be hard to reverse.

First of all in recent times Facebook has gone way over the top with paid ads. They appear down the side of the page, in your news feed, and even on the timeline of you and your friends’ pages. Not only do they appear too often, but it can be argued that there are simply too many on the page. The more ads get forced in people’s faces, the less likely they are to take notice. Many users will in fact put extra effort into NOT paying attention to Ads, some even install ad blocking software so that they don’t have to see them. Another factor which has surely impacted the performance of Ads on Facebook is the abundance of spam in the form of sneaky apps which Facebook has done seemingly little to prevent.

Often when you click what looks like a news story, video or article shared by a friend, the link actually takes you to a page where you need to first join the app and authorise it access to your personal information before you can actually view what you clicked on. This undoubtedly makes users hesitant to click on ads in fear it will be a trap, trying to gain exposure and harvest information. Would we recommend Facebook paid ad campaigns? Despite the negatives above, there are circumstances where we definitely DO recommend Facebook advertising. It depends entirely on your objective and who you’re targeting, but paid ads on Facebook have the ability to target users at a very specific level, perfect for niche products and services.

If you’d like more information on Facebook Marketing or Google AdWords campaigns, contact us to see how we can help.