A couple of months ago I noticed something rather interesting about Facebook Ads vs Adsense. As any content marketer knows, the former is used to promote websites and requires you to spend money, while the latter is used to post ads and earn money.
In many ways, they are similar and these similarities are evident throughout. For instance, it is much cheaper to market to users in India than United States on Facebook, while on Adsense you get much more money for a US click than an Indian one. All makes sense. But then I began wondering if there was a way to play one against the other.
In other words, was there a way to send cheap ad traffic from Facebook to a website loaded with Google Ads, and then to earn a profit at the end? It sounds crazy, but you might be surprised at the results.
Facebook Ads vs Adsense: The Start of the Test
For this test I roped in some help from clients. As a freelancer, I have a few clients who have the websites, the money and the desire to try a few things out. I work for them as a writer, marketer and SEO expert and when I put my idea to them, they were more than willing to try it out.
These clients own a vast number of websites across many different topics, but I thought it best to focus on a few specific ones. So, the projects we choose were based in the financial sector.
Sounds like a strange mix, I know, but there is a reason behind all of this and that final one actually became very important.
To get the wheels in motion I asked that the web owners allow me to control the placement of the ads just for 4 weeks. I placed two prominent Google Adsense ads on the main page, making sure they were in headers or sidebars so they would show throughout. I also asked them to place a link to their best performing affiliate.
Then, I setup a single Facebook page under my company name, CompulsionMedia. The idea behind this is that the company promotes several different websites, which means a Facebook page for it that promoted other websites wouldn’t look out of place. This was actually true, except the websites that company promotes are actually my own and not the ones promoted for this article.
We setup a Facebook pixel, which is their form of Google Analytics, and we also setup additional analytics to make sure we could track where all of the hits were coming from. A couple of these sites were new, so it was easy and while there were discrepancies elsewhere, we were good for the most part.
After that, I created Facebook ads that targeted countries I had a good feeling about. Basically, they were countries that I knew were cheap to market to on Facebook, but that Google Adsense paid a lot of money for and that were relevant to the sites.
I am a freelance copyrighter and marketer, so I know how to create Facebook Ads that convert and I made sure I wrote the to the best of my ability. But the results were very interesting nonetheless.
Facebook Ads vs Adsense: The Results
We discovered that if you are targeting the incredibly cheap areas on Facebook, there is very little conversion on Google Ads. India and Bangladesh were the main ones. We targeted English speakers and we focused on the ages most likely to engage (25 to 40). And engage they did, but most just liked the post and very few clicked thorough.
Of the ones that did click, there were very few affiliate conversions and an Adsense RPM of around $1. Also known as “terrible”. We tried something similar with the financial sites, focusing on the UK for the .co.uk domain and the US for the .com domain.
We managed to get the Facebook engagements down to just $0.15 on average, which converted to around $0.40 per actual site visit (engagements also include likes, comments and shares). This was more positive as that particular sector was returning an average of $2.67 PPC and sometimes this was as high as $15. However, not everyone who visits will click on a link. In the end, we lost about $0.25 per clickthrough, an amount that decreased to around $0.08 when we factored in affiliate sales.
This is a good number, but there were only two affiliate sales at $1,000 each. When the leads pay that much, it is easy to get such a boost, but it’s also not reliable, which made this as big of a negative as India.
We tried many more countries and many more angles. The Indian site was a write-off. For some reason, visitors from these countries are more prone to ignoring ads of all type and as for affiliates, they wouldn’t even convert when the ads paid out just for a free subscription. The trading sites were also difficult. The affiliates play a huge role here, but not all countries allow online trading and not everyone searching for financial news is interested in it.
But we did get some success. We hit the jackpot, so to speak.
Why It Worked
There is one country that Facebook doesn’t place much value on but Google Adsense does and that’s South Africa. For Facebook, it’s the cheapest English speaking country of all and it’s also one of the 20 cheapest across the board. For Google Adsense, it’s in the top five for payouts. in other words, it is very easy to create a Facebook ad that sends South Africans to your website for just $0.01 each, and then to earn as much as $3 per click for these on Google Adsense.
Think about it, that means that you only need one ad click per 300 views to break even, and when you add affiliate sales into the mix, you’re quids in. This didn’t work with most of our sites, but it worked with the review site, and it also came close to breaking even elsewhere.
Serbia was also a big country. It was actually as cheap as Bangladesh for Facebook Ads, yet it seemed to pay just as much as countries like Ireland and Russia on Google Adsense.
It takes a lot of work, effort and money. And you need to have the right site and the right ads, but it is possible to earn money from Google Adsense just by using Facebook Ads. This opens up a lot of possibilities for content marketers, but it needs to be used carefully. You need affiliates there as backup, and you need to make sure you nail the perfect ad, otherwise you won’t get the engagements and it won’t work.