Google vs Facebook for eCommerce

There are essentially two big daddies of the digital ad world. Google and Facebook. Ads served on these often fall in the PPC, or pay per click categories and referred to as paid ads. However, there is a fundamental difference in the way these two types of ad mechanisms work. Let’s look into this

Google’s name to fame is its replace capability. To the extent that “Google it” has now become a verb. People replace for things, they replace for solutions to problems, they replace to learn news stuff and the list goes on. When you replace for something on Google, you use certain keywords. When making the Google ads, we choose the keywords, which when included in the replace query, the ads should be shown. For example, if I have an online mobile phone shop and someone replacees for “best camera phones under 10k”, I would want to show up in the ad results.

Here when we place an ad on Google replace engine, we are being in front of them “when” they are looking for us. Think of this as you walking down a market looking for something and you just happen to see the shop selling what you were looking for, right in front of you. In all probability, you will enter the shop, which is similar to the action of clicking the ad. Since they were looking for us and we were waiting for them, chances of conversion are high.

Now consider another scenario. You are using Facebook, getting entertained reading stuff on your timeline. You are not there looking for anything specific to buy. So, now when you come across an ad, you may or may not engage with it. It may be interrupting your current reading flow. Think of this as you walking down a market looking to buy something specific, say eyeglasses,  and then also come across a shop that has a highly discounted sale on sale on your favorite brand of footwear. But, wait, you did not come to the market to buy footwear Since it is your favorite footwear brand and it is on discount, you might still check it out and maybe end doing an impulse buy. This is Facebook’s way of making Facebook ads work.

When replaceing on Google, Google does not know much about you ( though it is getting better as it analyses your browsing and online activities ) but it knows what you are looking for. Facebook, on the other hand, knows who you are. Part of this information has been given by you when you set up your profile and created the friend’s network. Also, what posts you like, what pages you like, who you interacted with (shares/comments/likes) also helps Facebook determine what your interests are. So, if someone has watched and maybe shared every video of the new BMW they put on Facebook and also liked their page, Facebook knows this person like cars and also BMW.  

So from the Footwear example above, Facebook may know your Favorite footwear brand and when that brand goes on sale, they may want to advertise to their fans on Facebook. When the campaign is set up right by the Facebook marketer, the right ads will be shown to the right set of people who have the highest chance to buy. Imagine, 100 people walking in the market and each seeing a different shop in the same place, each as per to their interests, that’s the experience Facebook gives when multiple people log in at the same time, each may see different ads

So, which ad mechanism should be used?

Google, since it targets users specifically when they are closer to making a buying decision results in better conversion rates. Facebook on the other hand, with it’s demographic and interest-based targeting mechanism can help reach the right audience, which may or may not be in the buying mindset at the moment. However, we all know that all buying is not need-based and many times emotional decisions drive our buying habits. When the ads targeting is good and ads appeal to this buying behavior, it can work wonders through the passive Facebook method as well