Today’s post is by CT Moore, an account strategist with the SEO agency NVI. He has over 5 years experience developing content strategy and managing SEO & social media campaigns. CT also sits as a staff editor at Revnews.com and speaks regularly at events and conferences.
Between the success of the movie The Social Network and Mark Zuckerberg being named person of the year, Facebook has taken Google’s place in the limelight. For the meantime, however, Google still offers marketers a much better deal on their ad spend.
Granted, Google has chased Facebook all year, and the numbers haven’t been all that encouraging:
But whereas Facebook is expected to make $1.28 billion in 2010, Google reported $6.77 billion in revenue for Q1 alone. With that lead driven mostly through Google’s Adwords platform, it’s impossible to ignore the how ol’ fashioned pay-per-click advertising still trumps social media.
Both Google and Facebook (and most any social platform) make money by selling ad space in some form or another. So while Google might be slipping in what proportion of online ad space it controls, pixel per pixel, Google real estate is worth more than anything in a social media neighborhood. And a lot of that has to do with context.
Because Google’s ads are served by keywords that are either typed into a search bar or exist on a page, they help marketers reach users who have intent. A user that is searching for something and visiting a page about the topic is actively interested in it.
Their attention is already somewhat focused, meaning that advertisers don’t have to work as hard to get their attention. In fact, such users are often actively for specific products from the advertiser. This makes them much more valuable leads to marketers.
Now, Facebook doesn’t rely on keywords data to serve ads. They also can access your social graph to determine what interests you and the people you know. So why does Facebook’s average CPM range somewhere between 13 – 53% below the industry standard?
First off, your interest says nothing about your intent. Just because you’re interested in something, there’s no guarantee you’re looking to buy more. In fact, you might be so interested in something that you already have every thing you need.
A bigger part of it, however, is what a social media user’s intent actually is. While many Google sessions revolve specifically around making a purchasing decision, users log on to Facebook to socialize — not buy. In fact, in many respects, advertising on Facebook can make you look like the guy who sells insurance at a cocktail party.
That being said, social media’s appeal to brand advertisers is undeniable. For instance, how Facebook enables brands to integrate their Facebook pages into an ad experience. But for advertisers who are focused on results, it remains more challenging to convert social traffic into a sale.
Of course, Google’s lead probably won’t last forever. The social web continues to grow through mobile and location-based services, and Google still lacks a social strategy.
And as great as Google’s lead is, Facebook already has one foot in the future. If Google wants to maintain its lead, it will have to do something that socially significant.
For the meantime, however, marketers shouldn’t overlook search. In fact, search should probably still command a greater proportion of online ad budgets than social media does, but I’m curious to know what you think.
Is search a better deal? Or is social?