By Amine Rahal, entrepreneur and writer. Amine is the CEO of IronMonk Solutions, a digital marketing agency specializing in SEO and CMO at Regal Assets, an IRA company.
Digital marketers have long debated whether paid advertising from Facebook or Google offers a better bang for your buck. What’s often left out of the discussion is Snapchat, one of the most dominant social platforms for reaching younger audiences.
Despite what some might allege, Snapchat is far from dead and certainly belongs in the discussion with the big two social giants. In Q2 2020, Snapchat added 9 million daily active users and grew its userbase 17% year over year. I believe there’s no social tool more valuable to marketers than Snapchat for getting in front of the budding Generation Z — in fact, the app reaches 90% of 13- to 24-year-olds in the U.S.
In a time when fewer young people are using Facebook, Snapchat Ads for Business cannot be overlooked. In this article, I’ll compare Snapchat’s, Facebook’s and Google’s ad platforms to demonstrate why a Snapchat ad spend might be worth considering for your marketing strategy.
The Frontrunners: Google And Facebook Ads
Google Ads and Facebook Ads are the two major players in the paid social marketing space. The core difference in ad targeting between them is Facebook targets audiences based on common interests, whereas Google targets those specifically searching for a product or service.
Google Ads 101
With Google Ads, advertisements are typically text-based and help propel your website or listing to the top of Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Historically, Google Ads have performed well for e-commerce vendors looking to compete with larger retailers who might have a legacy search engine optimization (SEO) advantage for competitive keywords.
Google Ad is a pay-per-click service that bills customers on a cost-per-click (CPC) basis. This means you pay for each click generated by your campaign. However, CPC inflation is a real thing. In fact, estimates place Google’s CPC appreciation between 5% and 12% every year. In 2018, the average search CPC for e-commerce was $1.16. Each marketer must decide whether the price is worth the click with no guarantee of conversion.
Google has an extensive, highly targeted ad network across a variety of properties, including YouTube. However, it will have you playing catch-up every year as CPC metrics continue to rise. Plus, its ads are typically limited to text-based listings for SERPs.
Facebook Ads 101
Facebook Ads is a platform for creating visual, mobile-optimized ads for Facebook and Instagram users. Each ad is hypertargeted based on the audience’s geographic location, demographic features and personal interests. Once you’ve set your budget, you can bid on every thousand impressions or every click the ad generates.
Ads on Instagram and Facebook are excellent for driving brand recognition. For lead-generating ads, Facebook Ads lets users drive their audience to an off-site landing page or to the ad buyer’s Facebook profile.
Facebook marketing shines in its ability to microtarget for niche demographic factors. Want to run an ad targeting men aged 34-45 who live in Kentucky and build model railroads? No matter how specific, Facebook lets you access almost any dedicated audience. The downsides to Facebook marketing are equally apparent, however, such as:
• An aging userbase.
• A saturated ad market that’s difficult to capture attention within.
• The potential for visible negative comments.
• The requirement for active management and page curation.
The Case For Snapchat Marketing
Snapchat advertising lets marketers take a unique approach to social media marketing. Its ads are visual, include only minimal text elements, comprise the user’s entire screen and are often interactive. These ads let designers show a bit of personality, take risks and present a more authentic brand to a younger audience.
Snapchat Business accounts can design and run ad campaigns generating various calls to action (CTAs), including:
• App visits.
• URL visits.
• Phone calls or SMS messages.
• App installs.
Ads can include live-motion graphics up to three minutes long. Because Snapchat ads take a full-screen form and appear between snaps from a user’s contacts, they are naturally more immersive and attention-grabbing than text-based Google Ads or square Facebook feed ads.
Plus, Snapchat provides direct access to young people who might skip out on other social platforms. As of February 2020, 78% of those aged 18-24 in the U.S. used Snapchat, and 90% of Snapchat’s entire userbase is under the age of 25. Best of all, several case studies have found Snapchat generates more impressions per dollar than Google or Facebook.
Drawbacks Of Snapchat Marketing
Snapchat marketing has some potential drawbacks. For one, demographics are limited. The overwhelming majority of Snapchat’s user base consists of Generation Z and young millennials. Marketers targeting those who are 35 or older are better off utilizing Google or Facebook.
There’s also not much room for detail or nuance. Whereas Facebook and Google ads are text-heavy, Snapchat ads only give room for a one-line headline. Therefore, you’re limited in describing the details of your product or service — you only have enough text space to provide the hook and hope your visuals do the rest.
It’s also more difficult to track true engagement. Although you can easily check your view count, there’s no telling whether the viewer watched the entire video or instantly skipped through it.
Lastly, users can’t reshare your ads. Whereas Instagram, for example, lets users share ads and stories to their own story, Snapchat lacks this function.
Which Platform Provides The Best Return On Investment?
In 2020, it’s not a two-horse race in the paid social media marketing sector. For businesses targeting the under-30 demographic, and especially those aged 24 and under, I believe Snapchat is an excellent diversifier with a rightful place in your social strategy.
While Google Ads gets more expensive every year and Facebook’s userbase gets older, Snapchat is a breath of fresh air. Full-screen interactivity, a wide variety of CTAs, relative affordability and a younger userbase make Snapchat advertising stand out from the Silicon Valley ad giants. If you market to an under-25 crowd, then as I see it, Snapchat advertising is a no-brainer.
Where you’ll find the best return on investment depends on the audience you’re looking to advertise to. Facebook and Google are industry juggernauts, but Snapchat is a worthy contender for those targeting younger millennials and Gen Z. Google’s YouTube ad platform performs well for e-commerce vendors, and Facebook is excellent for brand awareness. However, an effective social media strategy is a holistic one incorporating all three.