How Facebook, Ad Words, & Pinterest Compare for Marketing Effectiveness

Paid ads have historically targeted in-market consumers, but today’s growing ad platforms are moving closer to passive consumers: the larger audience that are yet to make a purchase decision.

So how you do maximize active consumers vs passive consumers (those that may or may not be looking to buy but fit your target demographic) and how far up the purchase funnel should you go to capture the sale? What does the right blend look like across the purchase journey?

For paid marketing, you’re given a choice of targeting options using some kind of creative format, with an amount you’re prepared to bid against a particular

Google Adwords thrives on user-intent; that is, a search for the product you’re interested in or ready to buy. Their non-search products have fantastic reach for brand campaigns (e.g. YouTube ads and the Google Display Network) but generally don’t generate the positive returns seen via paid search.

  • Targeting: includes keyword, location, device, age and gender (if using YouTube ads).

  • Creative format: includes text, text and image, image (moving into Google Display Network territory), video (moving into YouTube video ad territory).

  • Bidding: generally a fixed amount with ‘bid modifiers’ to increase or decrease bidding under certain conditions plus reach (GDN, YouTube).

  • Action: bidding is per click (direct action) or per thousand impressions (regardless of clicks).

Marketing Media Digital Choices Facebook

The audience targeting options available in Facebook are by far much more advanced than Google Adwords or Pinterest, in particular because of the amount of data Facebook users willingly give up.

  • Targeting: includes age, gender, location, interests, device and many others.

  • Creative format: includes static image, multiple images, and video.

  • Bidding: a fixed amount or an amount which Facebook decides is optimal against your ‘strategy’ such as conversions, downloads or leads or an amount based on reach and frequency not dissimilar to TV targeting.

  • Action: includes per conversion (sale or lead), per download, per click, per thousand impressions.

Marketing Media Digital Choices Pinterest

Pinterest is still developing its targeting options and from what they’re working on, seem to be attempting to find a happy medium between active in-market consumers (via wishlist type pins and implied intent) and passive consumers (by growing their audience level targeting). Kind of a merge of Adwords and Facebook ads.

  • Targeting: includes gender, location, language, keywords (terms) and device.

  • Creative format: includes static images with text and and video.

  • Bidding: a fixed amount.

  • Action: bidding is per click, per thousand impressions and now per action.



Their goals are similar, to grab marketing dollars and push ads to consumers before they decide to buy whilst keeping those consumers engaged on those platforms. It’s a difficult blend for sites like Pinterest and Facebook which are destinations in their own right. Google’s goal in contrast is to get you to your destination as fast as possible.

This creates a fine balance for social sites to monetize while retaining engagement. This is what you as a marketer needs to tap into – creating consumer value first and generating sales as the benefit.

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