What Does Google Have That Facebook Doesn’t?
That’s what Google has that Facebook doesn’t. Allow me to indulge. Although both feature self-serve models for creating, managing, distributing and targeting ads to audiences in multiple formats and of various demographics across distributed geos, Search Ads i.e. Google AdWords tends to still fare better over Facebook Ads.
The average click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads in 2010 was 0.051%, or about one click-through for every 2,000 ad impressions (source: IT World). The CTR for Google AdWords was 0.09% in 2010, a slight decline from 0.1% in 2009 (source: Google). The exceptions to this CTR for Google AdWords was in China where it was a whopping 0.64%!
There are several factors (format, size, content itself, demographic, gender etc.) for what’s behind those numbers but one of them is "context".
When a person searches for "Toyota Prius" in Google, they are either looking to buy a toyota prius, perhaps for a repair center, research the car, or one of the other many things. But the important point is they are looking for something related to their search i.e. a Toyota Prius. So, an ad from a local Toyota dealership that appears in the sidebar stands a better chance of being clicked on. In fact, it could even be an ad from a Nissan featuring it’s hybrid, the Leaf. That could potentially result in a better CTR. In either case, the click take place because of this "context".
On the other hand, Facebook is less of a contextual platform than Google. You go to Facebook to update your status, post pictures from your recent trip to Italy and the isles of Sicily, or to find someone across the globe. Nowhere in this "thought process", is there room for annoying ads. It’s like those nasty banner ads. When was that last time you clicked on one? Probably back when MySpace ruled! Exactly. Or maybe you (accidentally) did only to click "back" in your browser at lightning speed!
So, it’s this "context" that I believe drives Google’s success in search over anyone else. Google’s approach is more "pull" based compared to Facebook’s which is "push" based.