Are Facebook Ads Taking Over Digital In 2018?

Ben Clubley

PPC Account Manager
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CNBC states that Facebook and Google account for 73% of all digital advertising, which has risen from 63% in 2015. Both companies also dominate growth within the industry. With experts suggesting that Google and Facebook Ads could account for as much as 83% of global ad revenue growth. However, Facebook advertising continues to grow at a considerably faster rate than Google AdWords. Forbes reporting that in the first half of 2017, it saw advertising revenues of $17.4 billion, a 47% growth from the year prior.

This growing trend in Facebook advertising is expected to continue. This is due to steady growth in the number of users on Facebook, as well as the number of time individuals are spending on Facebook’s platforms. While Google AdWords has been around since 2000, Facebook Ads have only been around since early 2012 when they introduced Featured Posts to users’ news feed. By the time Facebook Ads had launched, Google AdWords was already a successful and useful marketing tool for businesses, turning over a yearly ad revenue of $43.7 billion. It would be surprising to assume that Facebook could ever surpass Google in terms of the number of advertisers using their platform. In late 2016 this became reality when Facebook hit over 4 million advertisers.

Despite the greater number of advertisers on Facebook, Google AdWords is still king when it comes to Ad revenue share. AdWords is responsible for 33% of the $223.7 billion spent on digital advertising every year, while Facebook only accounts for 16%. So why are more advertisers turning towards using Facebook for their campaigns?

Facebook PPC

Facebook Advertising allows you to target demographics of people based on account information they have provided on the Facebook Social Network.
If you provide the information, Facebook knows:

  • Where you’re from
  • Your age and gender
  • Where you work and/or study
  • Your interests based on pages you’ve liked

Ads will appear on the Facebook news feed on both mobile and desktop, as well as appearing along the right column on desktop. Ads can also be spread across other Facebook-owned applications such as Instagram, Messenger and Audience Network.

One of the main attraction points for Facebook is the number of users that the platform has. With over 2 billion users every month, Facebook is the most used social media platform out there. Instagram also has many active users, with 500 million logging in every day. What’s even more astonishing is that 20% of the time spent on mobile devices is spent on Facebook and Instagram.

With all these users many would think that the cost surrounding Facebook would be rather high, on the contrary, Facebook advertising is one of the lowest. Compared to other digital marketing platforms, and traditional media techniques, the cost to reach 1000 people is considerably lower as seen below.

For start-ups and small businesses, Facebook advertising can be hugely beneficial, with even £1 a day raising your brand awareness, and increasing your social media presence. More information on how as little as £1 a day spent on Facebook advertising can be found on Moz.

To setup your Facebook ads, and target the right people, you can use Audiences. The three targeting options for your ads are Core Audiences, Custom Audiences and Lookalike Audiences.

Core Audiences – Select your audience manually based on the characteristics you chose.

Custom Audiences – Upload a contact list to connect with your previous customers.

Lookalike Audiences – Use your customer information to find similar Facebook users.

As already stated, audiences can be made from the characteristics you choose. These can be general information such as gender, age and location, or more in-depth information such as their interests, purchase behaviours and device usage.

Another reason why Facebook can be fantastic for small businesses, is the fact that you can also target customers who like and follow the page of a competitor. This is a great way for small businesses to target people who are likely to be interested in their products and services. More information on Facebook ad targeting can be found on the Facebook website.

New advertising methods keep emerging around Facebook’s social media platforms. Video ads are on the rise, with 500 million Facebook users watching a video a day. Facebook video ads are a fantastic way for a company to engage with their audience, with engagement rates being a high 6.3%, much higher than 3.2% on YouTube or that of simple text and display ads.

85% of all Facebook videos are watched without sound so subtitle all videos

In 2017 Facebook announced that they were to introduce Ads to their Messenger service. Connecting you to a further 1.3 billion users.

Recent Changes at Facebook

2018 brought with it new changes at Facebook, however, with the company announcing that they were to change the algorithms surround users’ news feeds. Facebook now looks at prioritising posts from friends and family over public and brand posts, in the hope of allowing users to stay connected and create meaningful conversations, as well as generally improving the user experience.

This change is most likely to impact media sources, with the change being brought in to respond to the controversy surrounding the 2016 US Presidential Election, and fake news claims. Fortunately for advertisers, these new changes don’t change the algorithms regarding advertising on Facebook. However, the changes could lead to a small impact on boosted content, and the cost of advertising could rise if organic posts are not as effective, and advertisers begin to rely more on paid advertising placements. As stated by WordStream, we may also see costs of ad placements rise if there are fewer ad placement positions all together.

Some industry experts believe that these changes could benefit companies. If companies produce relevant and engaging content for their followers to interact with, it may lead to higher ad placements then previously achievable.

Adverts on Facebook must be created to drive true business objectives and not just for the sake of gaining additional impressions. Chief Services Officer at The Social Element, Blaise Grimes-Viorrt, believes that brands should focus on meaningful content which reinforce key brand messages, as well as advertising mainly for raising awareness and promotions. All of Grimes-Viorrt’s tips and advice can be viewed on AdWeek.

Comparing Facebook Ads and Google AdWords

So how do Facebook Ads and Google AdWords compare? The biggest difference between the two is how they target people. Google AdWords targets people by what they search for on Google or have searched for in the past. Facebook Ads targets people by who they are and what their interests are by drawing out information from their Facebook profile.

In terms of cost, Facebook is superior.

So, which of the two should you use in different circumstances?

  • If you want superior targeting? Use Facebook.
  • If you want highly committed traffic? Use AdWords.
  • You’re a small company and want to expand your reach? Simple, Facebook.
  • Do you want a greater variety of ads? Use AdWords.
  • You really want to try out retargeting? Either option is great.

Or maybe we could, and should, use both together?


That’s exactly the case. As much as AdWords is great for providing high-quality leads, it’s not so great at helping raise brand awareness, that’s where Facebook excels, but not so much in terms of generating your leads and fast eCommerce sales.

Start-up businesses should look at using Facebook Ads before AdWords as it can help with raising brand awareness as well as a social media presence. But if your budget allows it, both should be used.

When used correctly together, Google AdWords and Facebook Ads can become powerful tools that complement each other to help grow your brand and your business.

That’s exactly what we do here at SEO Traffic Lab. We use our expertise in both areas to help grow our clients brand awareness, increase conversions and improve general business.

So, is Facebook primed to take over? Well in terms of the number of advertisers, we’ve already concluded that it has. However, in terms of revenue share, most likely not.

If you’d like more information on Facebook Ads, or want to look at running your own Facebook ad campaigns, you can view Facebooks Blueprint Service here.

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