2 billion people log into Facebook every month, and 2 million advertisers use the platform to reach them.
According to a report by Zenith, Google and Facebook claimed 20% of global ad spend in 2016.
But when it comes to retail performance advertising, will one get you a better ROI than the other?
We hear this question a lot from prospects and clients. This is a tough topic to tackle because 1) it really depends on your vertical and budget, and 2) we’re comparing apples to oranges.
Nevertheless, in this post, we’ll examine the facts about everything from traffic to user data, so you can decide for yourself where your audience is and where your product fits.
Facebook vs. Google Ad Availability Across the World
Facebook Ad Availability
Global targeting options are below (taken from the Facebook Business forum).
Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Macao Special Administrative Region, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French part), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama
Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine, Åland Islands, Channel Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Guernsey, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sark, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland
Bermuda, Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the United States of America
Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, American Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna Islands
Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela (The Bolivarian Republic of)
AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area)
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia
APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States and Vietnam
CISFTA (Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area)
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan
EEA (European Economic Area)
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway
GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela
NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
USA, Canada, AND Mexico
Android app countries (paid)
All countries where the Android app store is available and customers can make purchases on the app store
Android app countries (all)
All countries where the Android app store is available
Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia
Euro area (countries that use the euro as their common currency)
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain
iTunes app store countries
All countries where the iTunes app store is available
Google Ad Availability
All Google Shopping ads appear in the following countries:
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States
AdWords Express is available in the following countries and languages:
Argentina, in Spanish; Australia, in English; Austria, in German; Brazil, in Portuguese; Canada, in English and French; The Czech Republic, in Czech; France, in French; Germany, in German; Hong Kong, in English; India, in English; Indonesia, in Indonesian; Ireland, in English; Italy, in Italian; Japan, in Japanese; Malaysia, in English; Mexico, in Spanish; Netherlands, in Dutch; New Zealand, in English; Nigeria, in English; The Philippines, in English; Poland, in Polish; Russia, in Russian; Singapore, in English; South Africa, in English; Spain, in Spanish; The United Arab Emirates, in English; The United Kingdom, in English; The United States, in English and Spanish
While most Google AdWords ads are available across the world, AdWords & AdSense (in the Display Network) are currently not available in the following countries:
Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria
Facebook vs. Google Ad Placements
Facebook Ad Placements
Facebook’s ad placements include the following:
Within these ad placements, there are tons of different formats and targeting options–and you can target shoppers from awareness to retargeting.
Google Ad Placements
Google AdWords placements include:
- Google Text Ads (text ads on search results page)
- Google Shopping Ads (via Google Shopping tab + search results page)
- Google Display Network (3rd party websites, including remarketing ads)
Shopping ads are incredibly popular for retailers, but that doesn’t mean Text ads are irrelevant. All Google ad types can work together depending on the part of the funnel you’re targeting.
Nii Ahene, COO and co-founder of CPC Strategy, explains:
When you get your Shopping ads performing at a high level, you should work on capturing them in the lower parts of the funnel–and that’s what Text and Audience-based display campaigns can accomplish.
Challenges on Facebook & Google
We know a lot about the benefits of advertising on Facebook and Google, so let’s get into the biggest challenges.
Facebook Ad Challenges
Facebook has powerful targeting options and abilities, but there are so many variables to keep track of. Here are a few:
1. Product types–toilet paper isn’t going to sell on Facebook unless there’s something incredibly unique about it, and a killer brand backing it up. (Never say never.) More about categories below.
2. Creative and copy. Your creative–which includes everything from your headline to your images–can make or break a campaign.
3. Audience. What difference does it make if you have the best creative and copy for your product if it shows up in front of disinterested users? Your audience levers will largely determine how your ads perform.
And one more thing–all of those variables cost money.
“It takes money to test, learn, and iterate on Facebook.” -Nii Ahene, COO of CPC Strategy
Google Ad Challenges
Google helps advertisers drive customers through the funnel with targeted audience buying across display, video, and social.
However, the biggest disadvantage of PPC advertising is that you don’t control aggregate demand.
“You could have the coolest product in the world, but if people aren’t searching for it, you won’t be able to drive much more traffic on search,” says Ahene.
In other words, if you’re a fledgling brand attempting to compete in a popular vertical, AdWords can be an expensive and unproductive place to try to get in front of shoppers.
Focus on building brand awareness first, then come back and start advertising on Google Shopping.
The Bottom Line
- Great for apparel or other verticals where “identity” and “inspiration” are a big part of the buyer journey
- Audience targeting options are powerful and can be geared toward interests
- Full-funnel advertising options allow advertisers to gain brand awareness
- Many variables to keep track of
- Product type dramatically affects user interest
- Creative must be top-notch
You should advertise on Facebook if: Your products involve inspiration or identity (think: apparel or jewelry) where you can start the process of drawing extremely targeted audiences down a retail funnel.
- Creative matters less than Facebook
- Audience generally has higher intent to buy (especially for text ads)
- Built to drive customers through the funnel
- All types of products can sell, particularly essentials
- Expensive for lesser-known brands in competitive verticals
You should advertise on Google if: There’s intent associated with your product, you’re a recognizable brand (or have the money/niche market to compete), and your customers don’t need to be inspired to buy it.