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Facebook or YouTube? The Best Platform for Advertising

Date published: May 12, 2016
Last updated: May 12, 2016

Quick question: can you recall the last ad you saw while scrolling on your Facebook Feed? How about on YouTube?

If you came up blank, you’re not the only one. According to MediaPost, about 60% of people can’t recall the last display ad they saw. Yet, advertising in this day and age is still – if not more – important than ever. With hundreds of brands (as well as dozens of local businesses) vying for a slice of the public’s attention, it pays to remain visible. And ads, whether in the form of display, banner, or video, help marketers achieve this goal.

With the sudden boom of social media, marketing experts have turned to popular platforms to reach their target audiences using customized ads. The question has then evolved from “what type of ad to use” to “which social media channel to take advantage of.” In the 2015 State of the Search Industry Report, a surprising 58% of agencies use Facebook ads compared to only 8.6% on YouTube.
Why the huge difference? Do these numbers mean that Facebook is the best platform in terms of advertising?

Pros of Facebook Ads

Let’s face facts: as a marketer, 1 billion daily active users are hard to resist. Facebook has certainly come far from being just a social platform, to becoming a vital marketing tool for various businesses. Unlike other online services, it has taken great pains to offer beneficial products (like their carousel ads) that look AND work great on mobile devices.

No other social media channel provides flexibility and creative freedom the way that Facebook does. You can choose from among their selection of traditional ads or featured videos that draw in more audiences. Not getting expected results after a month of multiple product ads? Switch to another style easily using Facebook Ads Manager, OR explore advanced features with the Power Editor (a plugin for Google Chrome). You won’t be stuck with the same old boring ad ever again!


Another advantage of Facebook over other platforms is the availability of measurement tools. Facebook Insights, for example, lets marketers view impressions from their ads, audience demographic, reach, and engagement – all in one convenient roof. All you need to do now is to learn to extract the meaning behind those figures.

Perhaps the most important reason to move your advertising to Facebook is because it’s one of the most widely-used apps on mobile. With an average of 1.04 billion daily active users as of December 2015, you know you’re getting an edge when promoting your clients. Not to mention that Facebook is still the number one most downloaded app before 2016 rolled in, according to a study by The Nielsen Company. With more and more people using mobile to search for what they need, you can’t afford NOT to be seen on portable devices like smartphones or tablets.

These are just several of the many benefits of a Facebook ad. Of course, the social media giant is not without its share of cons, such as getting fake Followers, no or low ROI over time, and even negative publicity. But it’s definitely been a force to contend with when it comes to modern online advertising.

Pros of YouTube Ads

You’d be happy to know that YouTube has just about the same active users as Facebook: more than 1 billion people who consume hours of video content. For brands targeting the millennial market (folks between 18 to 34 years old), you’ll be glad that YouTube reaches more of them than most cable or satellite providers. So if you’re thinking of advertising on the platform, it just might be a good idea.

In fact, it might just be one of the best long-term investments you’ll ever make, considering that video advertising is the next big thing since 2012. It’s a trend that’s been growing fast and doesn’t yet see an end (yet). It’s mainly because people retain more information after watching a short 30-second video than they do when reading a blog post. Thanks to the combined power of visual and auditory stimuli, your target market is more likely to recall your brand if they caught it on video.


Advertising on YouTube is also quite flexible. Marketers have the option of hosting content on their own channel OR place them over other videos (this is also known as “pre-roll ads”). The point of video ads is not as much as a sale, but rather for brand awareness and even lead generation. Carefully-placed video ads have the power to increase visitors to your website more than other marketing efforts because these audiences are already more receptive to your content.


But perhaps the best advantage of YouTube ads is their sustainability. Long after the public has mastered the art of ad-blocking, videos would be the only valuable marketing content to remain. According to Cisco, 69% of online traffic by 2017 would be due to videos alone. This figure is not surprising; considering the fact that even today, videos are one of our main sources for news and entertainment. Be honest: could you go a day without watching even a single video? Me neither.

Similar to Facebook ads, marketing on YouTube is NOT without its drawbacks. Aside from getting spammers or your competitors’ videos on your content, you also risk having low to no ROI if people skip on your ads more times than they’ve watched it. You’d also need better measurement tools than what the platform offers. However, if you’re ready to take on the challenge, then YouTube ads could be for you.

So: Is It Facebook or YouTube?

Let’s go back to the original question: why are more marketers investing on Facebook? Is it the best platform for advertising?

Well, the answer is: it depends on your business goals. Facebook just happens to be an ideal choice these days due to their innovative products (like Instant Articles) that cater to most audiences, regardless of demographic. YouTube on the other hand, is solely for video content. But before making the big decision, consider these top three factors:

  • Where are your target audiences hanging out: are they on Facebook OR YouTube?
  • What type of ads are they more receptive to: traditional advertisements OR video?
  • Are you prepared to customize your ads to reach more audiences?

After that, it’s a huge matter of recording results and testing new material. Rinse and repeat until you get your desired outcome. Keep exploring possibilities instead of being tied to what’s available. Who knows? Maybe a better platform would be introduced in the near future.

For now, don’t worry too much. At least you know that 75% of people who recalled the last ad they saw remembered seeing it online. So that’s a start.


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