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PPC Search Ads vs. Facebook Ads – Which Should I Use?

A Comparison Of The Two Online Advertising Methods

Online advertising has become an essential part of any successful marketing strategy. 64.4% of the world’s population has Internet access, with that figure rising to 89% of Europeans going online at least weekly and an even higher Internet penetration rate of over 92% for the UK population.

Amongst the many forms of online advertising two of the most popular are PPC (Pay-Per-Click) Search Ads and Facebook advertising. Using immensely successful online platforms, each of these methods has unique advantages and disadvantages. In this article, we will compare these two advertising methods to help you make an informed decision on which is likely to work best for your business.

PPC Search Ads vs. Facebook Ads – Two Different Approaches

When comparing PPC Search Ads and Facebook ads it is crucial to understand that the mechanism underlying each of them is different. So, consumers will see the ads for different reasons.

PPC Search Ads:

PPC Search ads work on a “pull” mechanism. That is, ads are displayed as a direct response to a user search on the keywords they use. The ads appear on the search results pages of search engines such as Google and Bing. Advertisers then pay a charge for each click on their ad (Cost Per Click). For a fuller explanation of how PPC works, take a look at our insight article Introduction to PPC.

Facebook Ads:

Facebook advertising works on a “push” system. Adverts are shown to a set of users defined in advance by the advertiser according to factors such as their age, gender, interests and location. There is no need for the user to have actively sought information on the topic of the ad. Advertisers can choose the way they pay for their ads, including Cost Per Click, Cost per Mille (1000 impressions) and Cost Per View (for videos).

PPC Search Ads vs Facebook Ads – Some Pros and Cons

Because of their different approaches, each of these types of advertising has different characteristics. Here, I have grouped them into pros and cons for ease of reading. However it’s important to remember that some features could be strengths or weaknesses depending on the aim behind your advertising campaign. Also, that the quality of your website and attractiveness of your offering are crucial to the effectiveness of either type of advertising campaign.

Advantages Of PPC Search Ads:

Audience Intent: By using PPC Search ads, you can ensure that your ad is shown to people who are actively seeking your product. They have already demonstrated their interest in it and they are motivated to buy if the product and price are right. That could result in a high rate of conversions. So, if you are looking to generate sales, it is an important advantage.

Rapid results: A well-constructed PPC advertising campaign can start generating clicks and sales results in as little as a matter of hours.

Cost-effectiveness: While popular keywords can be expensive and push up the potential cost of your ads, you only pay for the clicks the ads receive. If no-one clicks on them you will pay nothing so you know that you are paying for actual results.

Dynamic Ad Groups: Google allows you to create dynamic ads which target selected pages on your website, taking the heavy-lifting out of ad creation.

Adaptable To stage Of Purchase Journey: A well designed PPC Search ad campaign can recognise the user’s progress through a purchase process and present them with an ad relevant to the stage they are at.

Disadvantages of PPC Search Ads:

Cost: Because PPC Search advertising uses a system of bidding on keywords to decide what ads are displayed and in what page position it can be expensive, especially if you’re targeting highly sought-after keywords.

High competition: Millions of businesses, large and small use PPC Search advertising. Fierce competition for popular keywords, combined with large PPC budgets in bigger companies can drive the cost of keywords very high and make it difficult for your ad to be seen.

Limited reach: Because PPC Search advertising only targets users who are actively searching using your chosen keywords, it has a more limited reach, so this is not an ideal mechanism to strengthen brand awareness among the wider consumer population.

Advantages of Facebook Ads:

Size Of User Base: Facebook has over two billion monthly active users. This means that your adverts potentially have a huge reach. And that even a small impression-to-click percentage could be a meaningful number of visits to your website.

Ad Visibility: Facebook ads are shown to users whether they are looking for something related to the ad or not. No “pull” is required on the part of the consumer, putting the advertiser in control of who sees the ad. Depending on your targeting choices, the audience can be vast.

Tight focus: While PPC ads allow you to target particular users, e.g. by demographics and location, Facebook allows much greater granularity. Because users share so much personal information on Facebook, its targeting options can be incredibly precise. This allows you to use interests, behaviours, and demographics to direct your advert to exactly the users you wish.

Opportunistic Purchases – Consumers will often take advantage of a good deal even though they were not actively looking for that product. PPC search ads do not have the same opportunities to attract impulse purchases.

Low Cost: Facebook Ads allow you to start with very low budgets and can be surprisingly affordable, allowing you to access a large audience with a high degree of granularity.

Brand Awareness: People are generally more comfortable buying from brands they know. Facebook ads can raise awareness of your brand via sheer visual familiarity so that later, when a purchase is planned, yours is regarded as a known brand. They can also put your brand in front of users who are planning to purchase a product like yours but had not yet reached the stage of an active search.

Visual Impact: Visual ads can be powerfully persuasive, creating emotional impact and conveying messages that text-based ads cannot.

Disadvantages of Facebook Ads:

Limited Audience Intent: Unlike PPC ads, Facebook ads are displayed to users who have not directly shown an interest in a product. That means that regardless of their underlying interests, ad viewers may not be planning a purchase and your ads may not convert as well.

Ad Fatigue: Users may find push adverts intrusive and even irritating and so, may be less likely to engage with them. (Arguably, however, by simply appearing enough to have an impact, they’ve raised awareness of your brand).

In Conclusion

Both PPC advertising and Facebook advertising have their own unique features. Whether they represent advantages or disadvantages for you depends on your business goals and the aim of your advertising. The most important difference between the two platforms centres on user intent. If you want to target users who are actively searching for your product or service PPC advertising may be the way to go. Whereas, if you want to target users based on their interests and behaviours, Facebook advertising may be a better option.

However, is this really an either/or situation? To view these two platforms as alternatives to each other is probably to miss a vital point. Both have their own strengths and there’s no reason that you need to choose between them. They are not mutually exclusive and you could use PPC Search ads and Facebook ads to complement each other in pursuit of your business goals.

Using a combination of paid search and social media advertising can be a very effective advertising solution. However it’s important to do this as part of a dual-channel advertising strategy which keeps in mind the differences between the two platforms and plays to their respective strengths. By harnessing the power of both platforms, with coherent and consistent messaging, you can enjoy the best of both worlds.

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