Determining the top pay-per-click (PPC) ad platform of the year means considering the influence of many variables: industry trends, advertiser needs and preferences, budget, privacy laws, and platform capabilities and innovations.
As of 2023, Google and Facebook are two of the largest and most widely used PPC platforms, and they're showing no signs of stepping down from the throne.
The Most Powerful PPC Platform: Google Ads
When a company's landing page ranks as one of the top search results on Google, the presence of ads there is due to not only superior SEO but also the active involvement of Google Ads campaigns.
Each campaign is unique. In fact, there are five types to choose from:
- Search Network campaign
- Display Network campaign
- Shopping campaign
- Video campaign
- App campaign.
The beauty of using Google Ads is that it allows you to establish a budget that will never be exceeded. The platform forecasts your outcomes based on the budget you establish, giving you complete control over the cost.
Three additional advantages to using Google Ads:
- Reach. Google Ads provides businesses with the ability to reach a large and diverse audience through its extensive network, which includes Google search, Google Maps, YouTube, and millions of other websites and mobile apps.
- Targeting. Google Ads offers a range of targeting options, including demographic, geographic, behavioral, and more, allowing businesses to reach their desired audience with high precision and efficiency.
- Measurable Results. Google Ads provides detailed reporting and analytics, allowing businesses to track the performance of their campaigns and measure the return on their advertising investment. Advertisers can use that data to optimize their campaigns, make informed decisions, and adjust their strategies to meet their goals.
Those three benefits, along with its ease of use, flexibility, and scalability, make Google Ads a valuable component of a comprehensive digital marketing strategy for businesses looking to reach their target audience and drive results.
Dominating Paid Social: Facebook
Facebook Ads has over 2.7 billion monthly active users, and it has the ability to collect a wealth of user data, allowing businesses to target their ads based on a range of demographic, geographic, interest-based, and behavioral criteria.
Such an extensive targeting capability means that businesses can deliver their ads to the people most likely to be interested in their products or services, increasing the effectiveness of their advertising efforts.
You can run, but you can't hide from the all-knowing algorithms of Mark Zuckerberg. We've all mindlessly scrolled through Facebook and come across an ad for the exact pair of shoes we were eyeing online the night before. That's all thanks to the creepy-yet-impressive world of Facebook Ads and its ability to target us based on our previous search activity.
Businesses use Facebook Ads to reach specific demographics and manifest desirable outcomes.
Elbowing Their Way Into the Competition: Bing and TikTok
Although Google and Facebook reign supreme, they would be wise to keep an eye on their most likely challengers in ad spaces: Bing and TikTok.
Google vs. Bing
- Reach. Microsoft's Bing is a small but mighty competitor, boasting the second highest market share at 3% globally and even reaching 5-10% in countries such as the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia. Bing has partnerships with Yahoo and AOL, allowing it to provide advertisers with access to an additional 1 billion monthly active users. Moreover, Bing Ads have some advantageous features that are not available on Google Ads, such as allowing advertisers to target specific LinkedIn groups.
- Cost. Bing Ads tend to be more cost-effective. By charging lower cost-per-click (CPC) rates than Google Ads, it gives an advantage to advertisers with smaller budgets. The clickthrough rate (CTR) Bing achieves is nearly a percentage point higher average at 2.83% compared with Google's 1.91%, although Google still wins at conversion rates with an average of 3.75% against Bing's 2.94%. Bing's track record of CTRs means it can potentially get more clicks and conversions for ad spend.
- Audience. Bing's audience is slightly yet importantly different from Google's. Bing's users tend to be older, averaging age 45, with higher annual income, averaging $100K, and they are more likely to make online purchases. It can therefore be a productive place to cater to consumers of higher-end brands, making it a viable option for those looking to maximize their return on ad spend (ROAS).
Facebook vs. TikTok
- Reach. Although dwarfed by Facebook's almost 3 billion users, TikTok's user base is still impressive (1.5 billion users) despite being banned in some countries. Where Facebook Ads are well known and heavily used, TikTok Ads are on the rise and have the perk of a much less saturated market (so far). That makes it a prime spot for advertising, especially if you are targeting more youthful audiences who may shy away from Facebook. TikTok's unique short-form video format encourages high-level engagement and daily use. Viral clips often make the rounds, offering advantageous views for advertisers as well.
- Cost. At TikTok Ads' launch, its ad prices were inexpensive. Now, with its rising popularity has come a rising CPC. However, TikTok has a significantly high CTR due in part to its lack of advertising saturation, so the ROAS is fairly lucrative, and it will increase as more ads and formats are used. Facebook has an average conversion rate of 2-15%, whereas TikTok falls short at 1-3%. Ultimately, the cost-effectiveness of TikTok Ads versus Facebook Ads will depend on advertisers' specific goals and objectives and their strategizing with those points in mind.
- Audience and ad formats. TikTok knows how to catch attention, and it has translated that proficiency to its advertising services designed to create memorable experiences with interaction, engagement, and immersion that draw in target consumers. It offers a range of ad formats, including in-feed ads, brand takeovers, and branded hashtags. Although Facebook has been upping its offerings in response to stay ahead, TikTok does have some advantageous perks. To create content that feels authentic and resonates with a targeted audience, TikTok's focus on user-generated content means that slick advertisers have the opportunity to tap into a wealth of creative ideas, which is appealing to TikTok's younger demographic.
More Ad Platforms Making a Mark in 2023
This year, it's apparent that Amazon Advertising, LinkedIn Ads, and TikTok Ads are gaining increased use and growing as more advertisers look to reach audiences on additional platforms.
- Amazon Advertising has a vast user base of shoppers, making it an attractive platform for advertisers looking to target consumers in the purchase funnel.
- LinkedIn Ads, on the other hand, offers access to a professional audience and can be particularly effective for B2B marketers.
- TikTok Ads, with its highly engaged and young user base, can provide a unique opportunity for advertisers to reach Gen Z consumers.
Ad-Venture Awaits: The Power of Combining Google and Facebook Ads
The dynamic duo of PPC has unique and powerful features that fit together to create a cohesive funnel experience that will connect with users across multiple touchpoints.
Let's break down how it works.
In the discovery stage, you can use both Google and Facebook to capture intent and build brand awareness using YouTube video ads, display ads, and more.
The goal is to prompt initial action, such as viewing a video, clicking on a link, or completing a form, to engage and retarget users in the next stage.
When users are in the consideration stage, they're deciding whether or not to purchase. You may want to maximize ROI by testing new ads for nonengagers, retargeting those who did interact, using user-generated content, and keeping Google Search and Shopping ads running to avoid losing audience to competitors.
In stage three, steer conversations by retargeting audiences across Google Display Network—including Gmail placement—and Facebook's platform with high-value offers. Test incentives such as free trials, product giveaways, free shipping, and discount codes.
4. Engagement and Retention
In stage four, aim to retain customers and create loyalty. Using the PPC champions, you can use the following retention marketing tactics to ensure success:
- Promote complementary products or new items to previous customers to generate extra sales.
- Send reminders to customers who recently purchased items, suggesting they may need a refill and offering a discount for subscribing.
- Connect with customers who purchased seasonal items the previous year and showcase new products or upcoming seasonal deals.
- Re-engage with inactive customers and offer a compelling discount to win them back.
* * *
Whether you use them together or separately, Google Ads and Facebook Ads remain the leading PPC ad platforms in 2023.
Using the strengths of both can lead to maximum impact, but businesses should carefully elevate their audience and goals to determine the best strategy for their campaigns.
More Resources on PPC Ad Platforms
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