This guide will focus on comparing cost-per-click (CPC) advertising by which we mean as the advertiser you only pay when someone clicks on your ad and lands on your site. There is another type of advertising whereby you pay every time your ad is displayed, irrespective of whether a person clicks on it, but we’ll cover that in another article.
CPC campaigns are action-oriented which means you’re looking for a definite outcome such as a sales lead, data capture, product sales, a like on Facebook, or some other action. You’re looking for the user to click on your ad, and then be taken to your site to complete the action, and as an advertiser you’re prepared to pay for those clicks.
To begin with it’s useful to know that the big players in the world of online advertising include Google, Facebook, and Bing. So let’s see how they compare against each other in order to give you a clearer idea of how they rate in terms of online advertising campaigns.
So what’s the difference?
Google Adwords provide a search driven marketing platform that allows advertisers to target users/customers by displaying adverts based on keywords entered into Google Search when a person is looking for something.
For example – you can target and show an ad only to people who have searched using keywords: “Home Lighting Birmingham” , “Birmingham Kitchen Lighting” , “Birmingham Lighting”.
Facebook Ads take a different approach because unlike Google their business model doesn’t rely on search terms. Instead, Facebook allows advertisers to utilise data based on location, demographics, interests and psychographics to target users.
For example – An advert can be displayed to people in Birmingham, between the ages of 30-50 years-old, and with an interest in decorating, interior design, and DIY.
When using Facebook as an advertising platform it’s useful to remember that you’ll have a smaller audience reach if you narrow the focus of your targeting. While this can lead to clicks of higher quality, they’ll be more expensive than if you were to target a wider criteria.
Bing Ads operate in much the same way as Google in that they are search driven. However, as of 2014 Google has nearly 90% of the UK search engine market share with Bing at 6.5% and Yahoo at just under 4%. But why would you advertise on Bing when their market share is so much smaller?
Well, first of all it’s important to remember that Bing and Yahoo search engines both use Bing Ads helping to increase the market share you can tap into. Secondly, Internet Explorer has Bing as its default search engine and there is a huge demographic using IE over Chrome and Firefox. Thirdly, due to their smaller market share, there are less advertisers using them which means less competition. We’ll discuss this more later.
How long does an online advert last?
Like any advert an online campaign will have a peak period in which it draws attention followed by a downward phase.
Google Adwords perform better, and last longer, due to the huge numbers of people searching for related keywords via their search engine.
Due to the fact that not everyone will see the ads at the same time, as a result your campaign will run effectively without needing constant updating to copy, images and graphics.
Facebook Ads offer good click-through-rate (CTR) when they first go live as people see the ad for the first time. The lifecycle however tends to be much shorter and the number of clicks/likes will plateau quickly and then decline as people see the ad more than once and no longer take any notice of it.
As this occurs, the CPC increases and the CTR reduces. To remedy the situation, you will need to update the copy, images and graphics in order for the ad to feel fresh, keep momentum, and subsequently keep clicks high and costs low. However you will need to factor in the costs of new creative each time this happens.
Bing Ads provide a similar lifecycle as Google in that they operate the same way. However Bing does have an advantage in certain areas.
Below are two screenshots taken from the same account over the same time period – one from Google Adwords, one from Bing Ads:
You’ll notice the number of clicks is significantly more with Google (as they have far greater market share). However, the click-through-rate (CTR), Average Position and Average cost-per-click (CPC) are better with Bing. In these instances, Bing has an advantage during the ad’s lifecycle.
Okay, what’s the cost?
The big question – how much money will you spend across these platforms to make it happen. There is no simple answer to that other than it varies based on any number of factors.
However, in our direct comparison between Google, Facebook and Bing, we can say that Bing Ads is the least expensive when using cost-per-click (CPC) and relatively cheaper if the keywords you choose are less competitive in the space you wish to occupy. However, Google provides higher impressions (how often the ad is displayed) and higher click-through-rates.
Facebook Ads are more expensive, but remember the platform offers a different advertising experience so direct comparisons are difficult to draw in that respect.
In a nutshell
The best way to approach your first online advertising campaign is to consider what you’re trying to achieve and from those objectives you’ll be better placed to spend your money wisely.
Consider the three platforms as a whole rather than in direct competition with each other. Google has a massive reach, Facebook delivers great brand awareness, and Bing covers an audience that your Google ad may be missing out on.