Which is the better platform for your business? Well, before I break down some of the arguments for and against each platform, first let me make my case for PPC.
98% of searchers choose a business that is on page 1 of the results they get, so it is imperative that your business reaches that first page. However, SEO can take time, and if you start selling a new product or are having a special timed promotion, you may never reach the first page. PPC is a great way to assure your business gets seen, and seen fast. Even if your company and website are brand-new, with a few optimisations you can be on the first page within the maximum of 24 hours of review, this is a huge contrast to organic search which can take weeks or months to garner similar results.
With PPC, you are in control. From budgeting, location targeting to tracking and measuring your performance. PPC gives you the tools to mould your campaign how you see fit as well as allowing you to know how well your campaign is doing. In other advertising and marketing channels, attribution of the budget to direct results isn’t as clear cut. So now for the real meat and bones, here it is, my take on battle of the PPC titans.
Chances are you’re more familiar with AdWords, or at least more aware of its potential. And there is a reason for that; Google has dominated the Search Engine market for years and it’s well-known to have a larger search volume and has more reach than any other platform.
However, harnessing this great power can be difficult, expensive and might not be the right (or at least the sole choice) for your business. Here’s a short list of things in Google’s favor, and a few things that may sway you in another direction:
3.5 billion searches a day, that’s 1.2 trillion a year. No other platform comes close to those staggering numbers but that comes with drawbacks. More potential customers means more competition and hence higher bidding prices.
AdWords has more extensions and tools for their platform, and when used in conjunction with Google Analytics, the list of possible optimisations are near endless. It is often the case that more optimisation is required for AdWords than any other platform due to the larger volume, grating unnecessary impressions and clicks, further rising overall cost. Something to be mindful of, if you don’t have the time or knowhow to keep your campaigns healthy.
Adwords has the cleanest interface and reporting, especially for larger accounts, whereas both Facebook and Bing can be a little clunky and difficult to navigate. This is also true in terms of updates, AdWords has received far more both visually and in function, largely based on feedback from AdWords users.
As it stands right now, AdWords is the only real game in town for retargeting on multiple sites. This is highlighted in Display Ads, with Google practically cornering the market in retargeting display ads across the web and bringing users who are more likely to buy your product, back onto your site. Google’s display channel and their Contextual Targeting algorithms (this makes sure your ads on the most relevant websites for your business) are industry leading.
Bing. What many people consider the 2nd best way to Google something. All jokes aside, Bing has consistently grown over the years to the extent that as of writing this, 16% of all searches worldwide are done via the Microsoft-owned platform. That number creeps up to 18% in the UK and a whopping 22% in US. That’s over 15 billion searches every month, nothing to be sneered at.
Even still, that’s rookie numbers compared to Google so why use Bing Ads over AdWords? Well, if your business is running on a tight advertising budget, chances are you may actually get more bang for your buck with Bing. This is due to the amount of competition you’ll face in AdWords, causing the bidding prices to rise. Even for larger companies that are able to throw more resources toward advertising, dividing your budget and allocating some to Bing could be a quick and easy way to rack up conversions. Just set up the exact same campaign in Bing that you do for AdWords, and if you want to be super scientific, match the budgets and max bidding prices for both campaigns, and see which performs better. Importing from platform to the other is as easy as pie and you might be surprised as the results.
Here’s a list of things that are unique to Bing Ads, some of their major benefits, and some things to be wary of:
Ok, there may be some truth to this but that doesn’t necessarily make it a disadvantage to many businesses out there. Bing’s average user is married and between 35-54 years old, therefore have a average higher income than the younger average Google user. Take advantage of this.
As mentioned before, less competition means lower bidding prices but that doesn’t always mean fewer clicks as each click is cheaper, allowing your budget to go further.
One of the rare cases where AdWords gives only one option while Bing offers two. Location targeting in AdWords must be set at the campaign level and that’s that. Whereas with Bing, you can do the same but you can also set different location targeting to multiple Ad Groups within the same campaign, giving you more flexibility.
On average, you will have fewer impressions. This can mean fewer unnecessary clicks, therefore less unnecessary spend. But it also means less brand awareness, and the platform isn’t even close in terms of retargeting numbers or Display Ad numbers. As mentioned before, Google is still the champ in this regard.
Facebook is world’s largest social network with one billion active daily users, making it the go to for social media advertisement. So it should come as no surprise 93% of all social media advertisers use Facebook Ads according to the Social Media Examiner’s 2017 Social Media Industry Report. Facebook Ads are an interesting case because in many ways Facebook advertising is the most diverse of the three platforms and in others, the most limited, which bring me to my first three points:
Seemingly everyone has Facebook. Whether your key demographics are nerdy 15 year old boys or middle-aged female cyclists, your potential customer probably uses Facebook. So no matter how niche your product or demographic, you can be seen to damned near everyone looking to buy what you are selling, making it the number one platform for B2C advertisement.
Unlike a search platform, the intent to purchase is much lower for social media platforms and the book of face is no exception. Adding a Call Button to your ad was a game changer for Facebook Ads, driving more sales to business via the platform but even with this in mind, search engines are still in the lead in terms of getting leads.
But what Facebook lacks in intent, it more than makes up for in awareness. If one of your main goals is brand awareness, then Facebook might be platform for you. I’m not saying throw your whole advertisement budget into Facebook, but consider dropping 15-20% and see what happens. For every £0.25 on average, you will acquire 1,000 impressions. These are crazy inflated numbers when compared to AdWords or Bing.
Facebook Ads are inherently visual, this is amplified when you take into account the Facebook owned platform, Instagram. Businesses have been using this to their advantage, highlighting the tone of their brand as well as special offers.
Truth is, there is no one best platform for all businesses. In fact, concurrence is often that using all the platforms at once is a smart move as they feed into each other. Building awareness and nurturing leads with minimal cost using Facebook and closing the deal with Bing or Adwords is what I would recommend to most businesses out there but this requires a lot of experimentation and optimisation. So it’s not really a question of either/or. It’s a question of how can all three be used to your advantage.