Google vs Facebook – Who won in Q4 2015?

January 23, 2016 by

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Facebook invested heavily in 2015 to improve its search functionality and keep users within its framework. Search, meanwhile, is where Google gets the lion’s share of its revenue. But, with programmatic advertising on the ascendance these past few years, which company is dominating in terms of growth and conversions?

For some, the answer’s a surprising one: Google recorded a massive 37% increase year-on-year in Q4 ad spend; Facebook just 22%. This is significant in that Google already had a very high base from which to increase. And Google also won the conversions battle, increasing by 34% where Facebook was up by 17%.

Google vs Facebook 2015 Q4

When looking at display tactics in Q4, there is a slight shift away from remarketing ads (targeting ads
to users who have visited a site before) as prospecting opportunities diversify.  While surprising to see such a significant gap  of 23% in Facebook conversions (17% increase in conversions vs 22% increase in spend) comparative to spend vs Google’s 8% (34% increase in conversions vs 37% spend), it’s likely due to the shift in display tactics. In particular, Google advertisers put more focus on contextual prospecting, a tactic that is not available on the Facebook platform.

Why should you care?

Whether they are on Facebook or the Google Display Network, users are becoming more tech savvy and discerning in how they consume media. While the growing use of ad blocking technology should be a concern for marketers, we also need to be sure we are creating ads that deserve an audience. And to be relevant to that audience, improvements in targeting, with appropriate frequency capping, are required.


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