Advertising on Google vs. Facebook

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I was listening to Marketing Over Coffee, and they provided me with a framework for thinking about Google vs. Facebook advertising. At some level, I suppose this is the way I’d already thought of it, but they gave me words to describe what I had been thinking. Words are good.

Google = What.

Facebook = Who.

Google gives you the tools you need to advertise to people looking for information about a certain “what.” In our case, the “what” is divorce information. We can reach them by running our ads on the keywords they search. If someone searches for “Raleigh Divorce Lawyer,” I can hit the person with an ad. Boom, done.

Facebook, on the other hand, helps us read the “who.” We aren’t able to use search because Facebook users generally aren’t searching. They’re on Facebook being social, talking, and interacting with their friends. In the case of Facebook, we’ve got to decide “who” we want to reach.

Facebook makes it easy to target users. You can aim your ads at, for example, married men, age 45+, with college degrees. It’s pretty easy to do. However, you can’t target those same users when they aren’t happy with their marriages (although I have an idea for that if you’re listening, Facebook—see below).

With Facebook, you’ve got to decide whether you want to take that semi-shotgun approach to reaching a target demographic and just hit each person in that segment regardless of how interested he or she may be in the service you’re offering. It’s a lot like advertising in the sports section of the paper when you want to reach older, generally married men. It is, however, a bit more targeted than you can get with other media.

The good news about Facebook, so far, is that advertising there is less expensive than on Google, generally. You can run your ad and make lots of impressions without spending nearly what you might spend in the same period on Google.

While Facebook might be less expensive, you’ve got to determine, and this will require some testing, whether it’s effective for you. You’ve got to track the Facebook clicks and figure out whether those clicks are generating revenues. Using your analytics software, you should be able to determine the cost per lead and the conversion rate on those leads. Then you’ll know the true cost of your advertising.

So far, my experience is that we’re better off focusing on the “what” rather than the “who.” That’s largely why I’ve moved away from advertising on TV, on the radio, and in print and am focused on Google.

What makes sense for you? That really depends on the outcome of your tests. Every market will vary a bit, and the pricing of the advertising is vastly different from place to place.

Let me know what you think and, more importantly, what you learn from your testing of Google vs. Facebook.

Oh, my idea for Facebook—listen up, guys—how about you give us the ability to search for people who have recently changed their relationship status from “married” to “single?”

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