Mobile Advertising: Google vs. Facebook

Mobile advertising is a relatively new space, but it’s growing very quickly, as phones and other mobile devices are becoming more and more ubiquitous. Mobile advertising may soon overtake desktop advertising as we enter a post-PC age.

We’ve taken a look at social network advertising, now let’s examine your mobile advertising options. Facebook and Google are the two big players here, in terms of audience. Google recently rolled out one of the biggest changes in 10 years to AdWords campaigns, so now is a great time to be thinking about getting into the mobile advertising game.


Google AdWords just launched “enhanced campaigns,” which are designed to make it easier for advertisers to reach people on multiple devices, based on where the person is, the time of day and the capabilities of their device. Google’s blog post announcing the change explains:

A pizza restaurant probably wants to show one ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 1pm on their PC at work (perhaps a link to an online order form or menu), and a different ad to someone searching for “pizza” at 8pm on a smartphone a half-mile from the restaurant (perhaps a click-to-call phone number and restaurant locator).

For a pricing example, Google says a breakfast cafe “can bid 25% higher for people searching a half-mile away, 20% lower for searches after 11am, and 50% higher for searches on smartphones. These bid adjustments can apply to all ads and all keywords in one single campaign.”

But the change has some advertisers complaining, as the New York Times reported:

Mobile ads have been less expensive partly because their demand has been relatively low. But now all Google ad campaigns will include mobile devices by default (though advertisers can opt out of mobile.) This will drive more bidders into each auction and likely forcing up mobile ad rates. This is good for Google but disappointing to advertisers.

Some advertisers also say they do not want to lose their fine-grained control over their ad campaigns and cede that control to Google. For example, iPad users generally spend more on e-commerce sites than users of other kinds of tablets, so many retailers showed ads only to iPad users, but now they will lose that option.


Facebook’s newly announced news feed is heavily focused on standardizing the mobile and desktop experiences. The new news feed will look just about the same on all screens. This means a wider news feed with big pictures and videos, which in turn means more real estate to play with. Facebook might also looking into a new ad category: video ads that auto-play in the news feed.

Because Facebook is pretty new to the mobile advertising game, they’re focused on the basics.

“A lot of people will talk about the holy grail of advertising where you’re walking down the street and your phone is buzzing with alerts about deals around you and a movie’s playing nearby,” Facebook News Feed product manager Jeff Kanter tells “I think it’s an awesome vision and the world will get there, but at this point in time, mobile advertising is working really well because it’s where people are spending their time.”

At this point, there is no real difference between Facebook’s mobile advertising and desktop advertising. The benefits of advertising with Facebook are the ability to target a specific segment of the population based on age and personal interests, and that your ads can go front and center, right in the news feed.

 Google VS. Facebook


  • Often cheaper than Google
  • Targets by age, personal interests, and more
  • You can get more prominent placement in front of your target audience’s eyes
  • Not reliant on search terms — people visit Facebook multiple times per day to read through their news feed


  • Targets by location, time of day and search terms
  • Can target by personal interests/search history, if users don’t opt out
  • Bigger reach than Facebook — Ads appear on Google searches, YouTube videos, Blogger websites and millions of other sites using AdSense.
  • When people search Google, they’re looking for something specific. If you’re trying to sell something niche, you’re going to have a better target/conversion ratio with Google.

What’s been your experience with mobile advertising? What do you think about Google’s new enhanced campaigns? How about Facebook’s new News Feed? Let us know in the comments!

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Vincenzo Ravina is a writer, journalist and giraffe enthusiast from Halifax, Nova Scotia. You can learn more at his website,, or follow him on Twitter at @RavinaSBT.

One thought on “Mobile Advertising: Google vs. Facebook

  1. Xenos Georgia

    Thank you for sharing this – the SEO climate is also being affected dramatically due to these constantly evolving changes – this information will help advertisers make better decisions on where to spend their money for best results


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