Search Ads Are Better Than Facebook Ads: A study, coupled by ours, supports Schmidt

Last week, when outgoing Google CEO Eric Schmidt dismissed the idea of Facebook as Google's main competitor, claiming that Facebook ads don't really displace search ads; we, like most people started thinking.

The first thought that came to our minds, like many others, was maybe it’s “Schmidt’s another Big Talk”.

But when tried to couple our own survery, which we started in November 2010 and revealed findings day before yesterday, with a new survey from WebTrends then, we found that Schimdt may be indeed be saying truth.

According to the Webtrends study of Facebook advertising , Schmidt may be right: as users burn out much faster on Facebook ads than they do on search ads.

The study looked at about 1,500 Facebook ad campaigns consisting of more than 11,000 ads, and found that average clickthrough rates decline by half in about two days. In other words, once a user has seen an ad a couple of times, they're very unlikely to click on it. The pattern of decay continues until the clickthrough rate gets so low that Facebook removes it, and the advertiser is forced to start over again.

To take care of this burn out, Facebook Advertisers can use "friend of fan" targeting -- the feature that shows the names of friends who have also clicked on an ad. This helps advertisements last three times as long before users get sick of them and stop clicking. But the effective duration is still only a week or two.

A search ad can run for weeks or months with no changes. That's because the ad shows up only when users search on the associated keywords, so each ad continues to rotate through people who have never seen it before. The trick with search advertising isn't figuring out how to attract users with new ad copy (something top marketers do with Facebook ads ). It's more about buying the right keywords at the right times( a tested formula which Top marketers are using for Adwords, Google’s ad program for marketers).

Although, no study can be called authoritative, when it comes to ads online; with every model having its pros and cons; but treating Facebook ads are more like very well-targeted display ads, will not be bad after all. Our own poll provides some support in this regard.

In the said poll, we asked our esteemed readers, “Will you make Facebook as your default browser homepage?”. To this 72 percent said NO, 13 percent said YES and 13 percent said CAN’T SAY.

This made us infer that, the world still considers a “Search Page” as their primary gateway to web rather than some social network. When our poll findings are coupled with the findings of the WebTrends survey, then another inference can be derived, which says: No matter where people spend time, they want to keep a search service handy, as it’s where they search to buy stuff. --------

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