Facebook, Google or Microsoft: Which is more effective?

microsoft1Marketers struggling to work out whether to advertise on Facebook, Google or Microsoft have been given a major boost with the release of new insight that claims to reveal which is the most effective platform in maximising online spend.

In an effort to settle the issue, adtech firm Adzooma teamed up with Cambridge University MBA students to determine how to select the best marketing channel, which content strategy to employ and how to optimise landing pages to succeed in 2021.

The three-pronged approach allowed the students to study customer behaviour along with key parts of the decision-making process. This included examining how the imagery and language used in ads affected click-through rates, as well as measuring whether the quality of the landing page was an important consideration when it came to conversions. Finally, they looked at whether the choice of platform would affect the conversion rate.

Overall, the study found that while Google’s high reach and low-cost offering made it the most popular ad network among Adzooma’s SME customers, Facebook was the most cost-effective channel on average, given that increasing spend will actually have the biggest impact on impressions, while Microsoft proved most responsive for increasing ad spend.

It was concluded that when choosing between Google and Facebook to advertise a business, on average Facebook would be the best bet. For those SMEs debating between Google and Microsoft, in this scenario Google was suggested due to its high reach and low cost.

Even so, perhaps unsurprisingly, the best results are achieved by employing all three into an advertising strategy.

However, each platform does have unique advantages. For instance, Microsoft-owned search engine Bing was more attractive to the over 45 age group, with a third of them having a household income of £72,000, while Microsoft Advertising was the best medium for targeting a more professional and affluent audience.

When comparing all the data in relation to how website conversions were affected by landing pages, in terms of quality of images, use of HTTPS, and page speed, among others, there was vast room for improvement for 95% of the businesses sampled; only 5% of websites achieved a perfect score.

Users of different advertising platforms also responded differently to the sentiment within advertising copy. This meant that on Google Ads, negative sentiment proved most popular with a 6.5% clickthrough rate (CTR), compared to 5.7% for neutral and positive copy, while on Microsoft Ads, negative sentiment’s 3.3% CTR lagged behind both positive (4.2%) and neutral (3.6%).

The Cambridge University team also found that SMEs with Google and Microsoft ad accounts saw a much higher CTR than the industry average – 6% v 1.91% and 3.7% v 2.83% respectively.

Srishti Warman, a member of the University of Cambridge team, said: “We are providing the mantras for the businesses to improve their conversion rate. This research will empower those who are technically capable to make such changes to their marketing campaigns like avoiding deprecated APIs, not logging browser errors to console, displaying images with correct aspect ratios, background and foreground colours to have a sufficient contrast ratio, amongst other things.”

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