Why Google Ads cost more than Facebook

In 2010 I served a 2-year mission for my church.

My job as a missionary was to find people and convert them, through baptism.

There were two ways this was accomplished.

  1.     Member referrals: People would tell their friends who were already members they were interested in learning more about their church.
  2.    Tracking: We’d knock door-to-door and try and find people who were interested in learning.

I’m sure I don’t have to tell you which method was more effective in terms of driving conversions

In marketing, I often hear people comparing search to social and I always think of this experience as my mission.

In terms of conversions, search, of course, is most effective (they’re already interested in buying).
But you really can’t compare the two on this basis.

There is a fundamental difference between search and social.

Search requires direct intent– someone has to type in a keyword to trigger an auction on the SERPs.
So only advertisers who have bid on that keyword, via whatever match type, would be bidding in this auction.

Because the keyword is so direct and clear to understand for intent, direct marketers can bid what that intent is worth to them. They know what a call or conversion is worth at the bottom of the funnel.

Social, however, is driven by WHO the user is, not by immediate intent that was initiated by that user right then.
So advertisers choose broad categories– mostly static demographics and things like lookalikes for targets.

While custom audiences are a proxy for search-like intent, they are small relative to the giant audiences, so custom audience spend is small.
Thus, the CPMs on small audiences tend to be a lot higher for many reasons.

The auction hasn’t had a chance to learn and optimize, so they pre-judge you as guilty, there could be more competition (influencer audiences), and so forth.

Another way to look at it– In social we have a lot more overlapping audiences.

There are perhaps a million+ advertisers bidding on 18+ US– the default option here in the United States.
You don’t see this type of auction issue with search– to have the entire keyword universe in an ad group if even it were possible.

So in social, we primarily have a large number of advertisers bidding on large audiences, creating a lot of bidders in each auction, all getting a similar CPM.
In search, we have many, many small auctions– allowing searches for “mesothelioma” to be over $500 per click.

There is also the concept of position, too.
Google basically has 10 spots per page, while Facebook has an unlimited page.
There is no page 2 on Facebook– think about what that means.

So just because CPMs are cheaper on Facebook doesn’t mean you should allocate traffic there.
The same is true for CPC– a campaign with a higher CPC might also yield a better conversion rate.

Consider counterbalancing metrics, so we know the trade-offs inherent with every single metric except the one– profit.

While there are many factors that affect CPM on any network, all else equal, a lower CPM is usually better.
It means that we are getting higher engagement (which is usually good), but might be getting lower quality.

Counterbalancing metrics, which is one of 12 aspects of #MAA, usually have metric pairings of quantity vs quality.

So whether you’re looking at the particular metrics of one campaign, or search and social together, make sure to always look at the complete picture to avoid missing the forest for the trees.

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