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Google Adwords vs. Facebook Ads: Mobile Marketing’s Clear Winner

The dominant social media giant Facebook has been getting so much attention and publicity these days that it’s easy to assume it's the best platform for pretty much everything. Businesses are flocking to Facebook Ads as a way to reach out to more people and promote their products.

But there’s a platform that, while older than Facebook, is still in many ways a lot more effective.

Where Facebook is a monolithic social media platform, Google is a many-tentacled company with services and products that spans a much broader spectrum. Here are some of the reasons why Google clearly wins out in all parts of the online sales funnel over a platform like Facebook (even when Facebook has so many millions of users!):

The Mobile Marketing Revolution

With so much of e-commerce taking place over mobile devices, companies that can achieve brand dominance on smartphones will win tomorrow's marketing battles. People use their smartphones on average a staggering 150x per day. From checking the morning news to playing a game during their commute, to checking emails at work or ordering that special gift, Google’s products and services can be utilized to promote your brand in all these mobile moments . In terms of reaching mass audiences, Google maintains a user base of over a billion monthly active users, with more than 80% of smartphone users taking advantage of Google-backed Android technology. By contrast, Facebook is basically a social tool, without a broader cross-device and cross-platform reach.

In an article, writer Peter Roesler points out how, while both companies are using fundamentally different platforms, and trying to build up against each other, Facebook “pales in comparison” in terms of its overall advertising network.

Measuring Audience Intent

Marketers have to really know how their target audience behaves online, and what users are intending to do. Google search technologies and other Google tools promote the analysis of real-time behavior to see what people are trying to do -- what they want to search for, what they want to purchase, etc. Again, experts talk about “micro-moments” or “I-want-to-do”, “I-want-to-know”, “I-want-to-go” and “I-want-to-buy” moments which are loaded with intent, context, and immediacy. Marketers need to identify and cater to these moments to win the hearts and minds of their target audience.

By contrast, Facebook has no ability to target users based on intent. Facebook’s strength lies in it’s ability to target demographics. But is it enough to target only demographics?

Take a baby product company, for example, who is targeting new moms for their baby products. They serve ads to this group with the idea that they are targeting the correct interest group, but what about the grandmother looking to buy a gift for their grandchild? Research shows that 40% of baby product purchasers live in households without children1.

On the other hand, with a multi-faceted strategy using Google’s products you can cover a range of behaviors, context, and intent.

Relevant & Useful Content

Research shows that the average Facebook user sees 1500 pieces of content for less than 2 seconds each. It's not a technology with a very strong capture rate. Users have to choose to click into a particular piece of content to engage with it. Meanwhile, Google tools connect people with what they're looking for, to make sure the user is engaged. That's a lot of what's behind new Google algorithm changes -- the idea behind Google search and related tools is that people are served options that are relevant to them in the moment they are looking for it, not just scrolling through a list of options.

These are just some of the ways in which Google products and services fulfill more of the needs of businesses and companies than Facebook ads. Marketers who figure out how to use Google tools to their advantage have stronger analytics data for optimization, can, therefore evolve their sales funnel, and ultimately drive more sales. It's important to understand the difference between a single-dimensional, transparent social media platform, and a real in-depth, behind the scenes marketing platform. Marketers have to look at and compare tools and digital spaces to figure out what’s best for their campaigns – a better view of integrated social media will help to achieve those goals.

1 Mobile Purchasers & Influencers Report. Google / Ipsos MediaCT, Ipsos Online Omnibus, August 2015, N=5025 Online smartphone users 18+, baby product purchasers in past 6 months