There are countless options in the world of online advertising; Twitter, Facebook, Amazon, Bing, AdWords, you name it. Unfortunately most companies don’t have unlimited amounts of money to test out all of these options all at once, and this is especially true if you’re a small business looking to make its mark in an increasingly competitive environment. This means that you’re going to have to be very thoughtful of how you allocate your limited ad budget. Today I’ll be laying out the pros and cons of my three favorite choices for any company just starting out with online advertisements: Google AdWords, Bing Ads and Facebook Ads.

Google AdWords Pros

Most Active Users

When it comes to online PPC (Pay Per Click) advertising Google Adwords is far and away he biggest and baddest dog on the block. As of March 2015 Google controls roughly 64% of the total desktop search engine market share. This means that more people use Google than any other search platform by a wide margin, so if you want to spread word of your product(s) to the largest number of potential customers then Google AdWords is the way to go.

Seach Engine Marketshare

Ease of Access

Out of all the search platforms I’ve worked with Google Adwords is by far the easiest to build and manage campaigns on. Setting up conversion tracking is a snap, and you get access to both Google Analytics and the AdWords Editor which are both excellent tools for optimizing an AdWords account. Google AdWords also offers top of the line user support, with a call center open 5 days a week to help with any specific issues you run into. Google is also constantly updating the AdWords platform so there are new advertising options popping up all the time.

Google AdWords Cons

No Search Network Demographic Targeting

This is more of a minor issue, but for some reason Google still hasn’t given us the option to edit demographic targeting for Search Network campaigns. You can tweak them for campaigns running on the Display Network, but if it’s a Search Network campaign all you’re able to do is view the results.

Frequent Updates and Changes

If you’re the kind of person who likes to learn the ins and outs of a program in its entirety then you may find yourself becoming frustrated with AdWords. They’re constantly updating AdWords features so it can take a lot of time to stay up to date with the most recent changes. This can seem like a pain, but staying up to date with these updates is one of the best ways to get a leg up on the competition.

Bing Ads Pros

Less Competition/Cheaper Cost Per Click

Bing controls around 20% of the desktop search engine market share, landing it in second place behind Google’s 64%. This is an advantage because fewer businesses advertise on Bing Ads simply because of the lower overall market share, generally leading to lower overall CPC (Cost Per Click).

Older/Wealthier Users

Bing users are generally older and in a higher wealth bracket than users on Google or Facebook. This can be a big advantage depending on the product you’re advertising. A Google user in their mid 20’s  probably won’t be able to afford a yacht no matter how much you pay to advertise to them, but you may have better luck with older users on Bing who are at the height of their careers.

Bing Ads Cons

The Interface Can be a Pain

Getting anything set up correctly in Bing Ads can be an enormous hassle. Bing has its own equivalent to the Google AdWords Editor for making mass changes and they try to emulate AdWords in a lot of ways, but the provide none of the support that Google does when you get stumped. Fortunately you can work around this if you’re already rocking a successful AdWords campaign because Bing allows you to upload AdWords campaigns directly.

Analytics Doesn’t Track Bing Automatically

If you’ve done any advertising on AdWords you’ll know that you can use it to find information about any aspect of a user’s journey. Google AdWords data is automatically tracked once the Analytics code has been implemented, but tracking Bing Ads data requires additional set up and a much deeper knowledge of the Analytics program.

Facebook Ads Pros

It’s Cheap

Advertising on Facebook can be relatively inexpensive compared to running a full-blown AdWords PPC campaign. Facebook has by far the lowest cost per impression of any advertising service out there, so if you build your campaign with a specific purpose in mind and target the right audience you’ll start seeing some serious returns on very little investment.

Great Targeting Options

Facebook keeps track of just about everything their users have ever done on their website, from employment status to annual income and hobbies. This is incredibly useful when trying to make sure that we target to the right audience with a Facebook adverting campaign. If you have a clear idea of what kind of people regularly purchase your product this can be a great way to hone in on that audience.

Facebook Ads Cons

You Can’t Just Have A Facebook Page Anymore

Since Facebook started doing their paid advertisements it has become almost impossible for unpaid pages to show up on a News Feed, regardless of how many likes the page has. If you want Facebook users to be updated regularly about your special offers you’re going to need to allocate at least some budget to running a Facebook Ads campaign or two.

No Organic Traffic

When you run ads on Google AdWords or Bing Ads you have the inherent benefit of being visible as organic traffic as well. Paid ads and organic ads tend to build off of one another, so if you generate a spike in paid traffic your organic traffic will usually follow. With Facebook Ads there is no such system in place, so if you aren’t paying to be shown then you aren’t showing up at all.

Final Thoughts

Unless it’s a very special case I almost always recommend that my clients start off by running their ads in Google AdWords. It allows me to easily track all sorts of information that just isn’t readily accessible when starting out on Facebook or Bing. That isn’t to say that Facebook and Bing aren’t capable of generating a ROI, but you’ll avoid a lot of wasted spend by learning what actually works in AdWords where it’s much easier to diagnose specific issues. Get a solid AdWords campaign in place, then look into expanding from there.

Thank you for reading, and I’ll PP-See you all next time!

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