Do Facebook and Google Own Your Paid Ad Budget? Start Here.

Facebook earned almost $84.2 billion in ad revenue in 2020, while Google pulled in $146.92 billion. Yep, you read that correctly. Definitely not a typo on our end. Billion

Let that sink in for a second. 

These two behemoths of the digital world are the most popular advertising platforms around, with many marketers using them as the foundation of their digital advertising strategies. And that’s great. But should you branch out to other platforms? 

If the idea of adding a third ad platform makes you scream internally thinking about that added layer of complexity, you’re not alone. (side note: if that’s the case, consider Advertising Intelligence). But before you decide if your paid ad budget should get spread out to additional platforms, there are two big considerations you should think through.

1. Platform performance metrics are inherently biased. 

The way individual advertising platforms label and define their metrics is wildly different. And they’re most definitely biased toward making the platform look more successful than it really is at promoting your message. 

For example, let’s say you promote a video on Facebook. You want to know how many people watched that video all the way to the end where you have a catchy, bold CTA. And Facebook does have a metric for that. Sort of. 

Facebook calls this metric “ThruPlays.” Great, you think. 531,000 people watched my ENTIRE video. Facebook and I are a match made in heaven. Let’s do this again! 

The problem? If you read the fine print, Facebook has added a little caveat. Here’s what their definition of “ThruPlay” says:

“The number of times your video was played to completion, or for at least 15 seconds.”

Everything before the comma is golden. After the comma is kind of a head scratcher. Actually, “head scratcher” is an understatement. If you just stood up from your exercise ball and shouted, “FOR AT LEAST 15 SECONDS?!” we’re pretty much on the same page. 

So, if your company has created a super exciting (not to mention expensive) 30-second video with a CTA you just know will inspire action…you’re kinda screwed. Sure, your video is still great. Lots of people watched to the end…but not nearly as many as Facebook’s ThruPlay metric would have you believe. And that means only a fraction of a fraction of your viewers probably clicked through to your site. 

If you didn’t read the fine print, you might think you’re getting great video viewership at a tenable price. But it’s actually not making the best use of your paid ad budget.


2. Cross-channel advertising can’t be evaluated without a single source of truth.

Based on the previous example, we know that Facebook’s ThruPlay metric doesn’t actually tell us if viewers watched through the entire video at all. 

We’re still reeling from that one. Anyone else?

Now, let’s add another layer of confusion. YouTube’s TrueView, Google’s version of the ThruPlay, is defined as a video ad in which a viewer watches 30 seconds of the video ad (or the duration if it is shorter than 30 seconds) or engages with your video, whichever comes first. Engagements include clicks to visit your website, call-to-action overlays (CTAs), cards, and companion banners.

In other words, Facebook calls a “video view” a 15-second view and YouTube defines it as a 30-second view or a click.

If you’re distributing a 30-second video ad, that causes some issues for cross-platform campaign analysis and paid ad budget optimization. Add in any in-stream video display ads, and you’ve got three different definitions of a video view within a single video initiative.

Try pulling “default” video reporting for these three platforms, and you’ll end up comparing three totally different metrics. This is all unless you have a single source of truth that pulls in data from all three platforms and automatically standardizes it. 

Advertising Intelligence puts you back in control.

The type of “micro-confusion” presented in this very real video example is rampant in paid advertising platforms. It seems like a small thing, but it can cause huge problems for your cross-channel campaigns and paid ad budget—especially when you’re dealing with even more confusing metrics on additional advertising platforms. 

Advertising Intelligence connects your Facebook and Google advertising data sources, automatically ingests performance data, and transforms it to speak a single language. Reporting on your campaign performance is faster and more accurate, so you can be confident in your data and your ability to use your paid ad budget in the most strategic way possible. 

If you need better insight about your paid ad strategy that relies solely on Facebook and Google, Advertising Intelligence can help you take control, get clarity on performance, and even begin branching out to other ad buying platforms that might also be big wins for your organization.