Google versus Facebook or…?

In considering paid media, it can be understandably difficult for some advertisers to decide between using Google or Facebook since both have large followings and also bring with them the power of their affiliates. Google has YouTube, the second-highest trafficked global site, in its corner. Facebook, on the other hand, has Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp behind it.

For small and medium-sized businesses trying to choose between Facebook and Google ads, Facebook may be the best. But when it comes down to Microsoft advertising and Google ads, Google wins out. These were the results of a recent survey partnership between MBA candidates at the University of Cambridge and Adzooma, a UK-based ad platform.

The in-depth study looked at three of the top online advertising platforms – Facebook, Google, and Microsoft and studied the effect language, image and emotion had on conversion rates. What researchers discovered was that all three had distinctive strengths. They identified Google ads as having the best reach at the least cost. Microsoft ads demonstrated the most sensitivity to increasing ad costs and Facebook as being most cost-effective.

Researchers also weighed other factors affecting the cost per click (CPC) and cost per thousand (CPM). What they discovered is that the choices of channels available to advertisers had a considerable impact on metrics. This resulted in digging even deeper and analyzing average CPS and CPCs across the ads of all three channels.

What they found was that Microsoft ads delivered the highest median CPC and CPM. However, researchers were quick to add that the platform was best suited for targeting rich consumers. Microsoft’s median CPM was 12.6 compared to Google’s 7.5 and Facebook’s 3.1. In comparing median CPC, Microsoft delivered .54 with Google and Facebook trailing at .45 and .15, respectively.

The study also suggests that increased spending appears to improve results even though it’s known that a common problem with digital advertising is its waste. After applying regression analysis, researchers estimated that increased ad spending on Microsoft and Google could increase clicks by 9%. Facebook came in at 8%. For expected increases in impressions, Facebook was 21%. Google had 10%, while Facebook had 7%.

Another area looked at was the effect of positive emotions. Researchers discovered that Microsoft ads were most effective among the three platforms with a 4.2% positive and 3.3% negative click-through rate (CTR).  Google ads were the worst with a 6.5% negative CTR although it did score 5.7% for a positive CTR as well.

This last discovery also suggests that consumers on these different platforms respond and react differently to the emotions in thread copy. Knowing this, marketers can maximize their return on advertising spend (ROAS) by tailoring their ads on each platform to benefit from these different emotional influences.

What was identified as having the biggest potential to convert were landing pages. It’s great when new prospects land there but critical that sites are optimized. This includes HTTPS, showing images in the correct ratios, and being perfect for website performance. The study revealed that only 5% were perfect on the latter.

The bottom line is that landing page optimization is critical regardless of which platform brands advertise on. Facebook appears most cost-effective for SMBs. Positive ads are most effective on Microsoft while negative emotions seem to improve performance on Google ads.

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