Marketing Technology for Growth

Do Facebook Ads Really Have 35 Times the Reach of Google?


Whether you’re a cash-strapped start-up or a marketing executive with a seven-figure ad budget, you want to make sure your online advertising dollars are spent wisely.

According to a new infographic  by  Internet marketing guru Brian Carter, you’re much better off spending 100 bucks on Facebook ads over Google.

Like 35X better, if you equate reach with efficiency in ad spend:

google vs facebook ad reach

I’m not quite sure where Carter is getting his numbers, as his infographic doesn’t refer to any data source. But even if his numbers are hyperbolic, the infographic illustrates a huge beef that Page, Brin and Co. over at Google have with Zuck and crew: Facebook has way more user data to draw from, which it can then offer to advertisers for deeper ad targeting.


Facebook knows who you are, to an incredible level of detail. Why? Because you tell it.¹

Facebook has been aggregating the profile information of its now roughly 850 million-strong user base for years now, and it’s able to use much of this information to target the advertising you see on its site.

Google tried to counter this with the launch of Google+ last year. Unfortunately, the fledgling social search network has only managed to garner somewhere between 90-120 million (depending on whether you buy Google’s numbers) semi-engaged followers to date. These are respectable numbers for a social media site to be sure, but not enough to deliver top notch ad targeting.

User numbers aside, Facebook’s ad targeting page allows you to segment ads with an incredible level of detail. Location, age, gender, precise interests, Facebook connections, sexual orientation, relationship status, languages, education and specific workplaces are some of the fields on offer.¹

Google's search advertising page, by contrast, is much less detailed. You can target by location, languages and devices, yes, but Google’s targeting page is mainly keyword-focused.

The bottom line: Facebook has a huge and growing set of data about its users that Google just doesn't.¹


The data aggregation divide between Facebook and Google looks to be spilling over into politics, with Facebook coming out in support of the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011 (CISPA), while Google remains largely quiet on the issue (for now). The CISPA bill would make it easier for private companies and the U.S. government to share user information concerning possible cyber threats. Microsoft, Facebook and a host of other technology companies are supporting the bill.²

CISPA is different from SOPA and PIPA in that it's not primarily about piracy or privacy issues, but is intended to help fight cyber-attacks. However many (including this author) are speculating that its vague and wide-reaching language may actually provide a degree of protection to big tech companies like Facebook that aggregate a lot of user data by tying their fortunes to the US government’s national security apparatus.

Judging from recent comments made by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, such speculation may hit near the mark. In an interview with The Guardian newspaper, Brin cited a wide range of attacks on “the open internet,” including government censorship and interception of data as well as overzealous attempts to protect intellectual property.

There are “very powerful forces that have lined up against the open internet on all sides and around the world,” says Brin. “I thought there was no way to put the genie back in the bottle, but now it seems in certain areas the genie has been put back in the bottle.”

These “powerful forces” Brin eludes to likely include Facebook and Apple, both of whom disallow Google servers to crawl Facebook’s pages or Apple’s smartphone apps for information.² A real bummer if your trying to aggregate user data for ad targeting purposes.


Whether or not Facebook Ads actually have 35X the reach of Google’s, it is hard to deny the fact that the massive social network has a vast treasure of user data to draw from that the search engine giant does not. This advantage allows Facebook to drill down to a deeper level and offer its advertisers more detailed ad targeting.

If your business is trying to wisely allocate its online ad spend, you should probably experiment with both platforms and measure results with A/B testing. Or if you don’t want the headache, you can have someone else worry about it by outsourcing to an inbound marketing expert.

By the way, whatever you decide, don’t forget that consumers are going mobile in unprecedented numbers. Be sure to factor this in to your online marketing strategy moving forward.


Do you think Facebook ads are more effective than Google, or do you think the opposite is true? Let me know what you think.


¹ Read,Write,Web, “Why Facebook Terrifies Google

² Wired, “Google’s Sergey Brin: China, SOPA, Facebook Threaten the ‘Open Web’”

InfoGraphic Courtesy of Brian Carter via AllFacebook

Learn How to Use Social Media to Make Your Marketing More Effective

Click me

Topics: Facebook, Marketing Technology Trends, Google