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June 8, 2022

YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads. What’s the difference?

The ad platform scene is constantly evolving. We broke down the main differences between YouTube Ads and Facebook Ads. Which works best for me? What […]


June 8, 2022
facebook ads vs youtube ads

Table of content

The ad platform scene is constantly evolving. We broke down the main differences between YouTube Ads and Facebook Ads. Which works best for me? What if I have a limited budget? Let’s get stuck in.

  • Audience and reach
  • Advertiser tools and platform UI/UX
  • Ad formats
  • ROI

What are YouTube Ads?

YouTube Ads is a video-first advertising platform, where ads are served through the Google Ads interface. Designed to reach a large audience at scale, Google uses data and signals from across its ecosystem to enable targeting at multiple stages of the buying process.

What are Facebook Ads?

For the purpose of this article, we will be focusing on Facebook Video Ads (one of the available formats on the Facebook platform). These ads can be displayed across Facebook and Instagram platforms, and are programmed through the Meta Business Suite.

Audience and reach

There are a number of differences between the user bases of each tool, but they share the top two places for social media platforms with the most active users. On one hand, Facebook’s user base is declining and has been for a while, especially with a younger demographic. On the other hand, YouTube watch time is growing faster on TV than on any other device, speaking to it’s plan to dominate your living room. These stats alone don’t make either tool right or wrong; it depends on who you’re trying to reach, and when (at what stage of the conversion process).

YouTube 3/5

More suited to a B2B audience, and allows for targeting the Awareness, Consideration, Action stages of the conversion process. This audience tends to be more active, for example, we can target specific behaviors like viewing a video comparing two CRM tools, or someone searching for a video of a physical product unboxing. After a drop in popularity for advertisers in 2017, YouTube is fertile ground for creating 

Facebook 2/5

More suited to a B2C audience. Ad viewers are less likely to be actively looking for a specific product, service, or brand; the audience is targeted based on interests and demographic information. This is ideal for target top-of-funnel activity, drive leads and sign-ups. Facebook Ads generally have a higher level of competition,  and it’s harder to stand out. Facebook Ads are best for businesses seeking to increase awareness of its brand or the products or services it sells—especially among audiences that may not have heard of them before.


YouTube 5/5:

  • Audience targeting methods
    • Demographics groups
    • Detailed demographics
    • Interests
      • Affinity segments
      • Custom affinity segments
      • Life events
      • In–market segments
      • Customer segments
    • Your data segments
    • Customer Match
    • Similar segments
  • Content targeting methods
    • Placements
      • YouTube channels
      • YouTube videos
      • Websites on the Google Display network
      • Apps on the Google Display network
    • Topics
    • Keywords
    • Devices

Facebook 3/5

Facebook divides its targeting into audience types: Core Audience, Customer Audience and Lookalike Audience.

  • Core Audience
    • Location
    • Behaviour
    • Demographics
    • Connections
    • Interests
  • Custom Audience
    • Contact lists
    • App users
    • Site visitors
  • Lookalike Audience
    • Create a source audience, then let Facebook target people with similar interests and traits.

Our thoughts

Facebook Ads and Google Ads serve different business objectives. It’s generally best to use Facebook Ads to build brand awareness of products or services that people may want but don’t necessarily need (or don’t need right now), such as a new high-tech espresso machine. YouTube Ads, however, are best for increasing sales of products or services that people are actively searching for, thanks to the power of intent signals from Google Search and other partners.

Ad formats 

YouTube Ads 4/5

YouTube Ads: 

Ad nameDescriptionWhere it appearsIdeal for
Skippable in-streamPlay before, during, or after other videos. After 5 seconds, the viewer has an option to skip the ad.YouTube watch pages and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.
Non-skippable in-stream15 seconds (or shorter) and play before, during, or after other videos. Viewers don't have the option to skip the ad.YouTube watch pages and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.
In-feed video adsA thumbnail image from your video with text invites people to click to watch the video. The video then plays on the YouTube watch page or channel homepage.On YouTube search resultsAlongside related YouTube videosOn the YouTube mobile homepage
Bumper6 seconds (or shorter) and play before, during, or after another video. Viewers don't have the option to skip the ad.YouTube videos and across websites and apps running on Google video partners.
Outstream adsOutstream ads begin playing with the sound off. Viewers can tap the ad to unmute the video. They are designed to increase your video reach at an efficient cost.Websites and apps running on Google video partners. Outstream ads aren't available on YouTube.expand the reach of your video ads on mobile, helping you reach more customers.

Instream Bumper, skippable, in-stream, non-skippable. Display ads show up in the search results as an option when users are choosing a video. Within a video, there are bumper ads that users are required to watch before their video. There are also skippable and non-skippable ads and overlay ads that are shown over a video. As YouTube is a video platform, viewers are more predisposed towards viewing a video ad. As per study XYZ , YouTube is becoming the new TV in the living room. 

Facebook 4/5

Facebook offers three types of video ads: (1) in-stream, (2) feed, and (3) stories. In-stream ads show during a video someone watches on Facebook. Feed ads show up in users’ news feeds as they’re scrolling. Stories ads are interspersed through other stories as the user progresses from one story to the next.

Ad nameDescriptionWhere it appearsIdeal for
In-streamCan be 5 seconds to 10 minutes long, with both non-skippable and skippable optionsPlays within videos in Facebook NewsFeed and Facebook Watch
FeedUse the video format in the Facebook News Feed to show off your product, service or brand in new ways. 2 hour time limit (you shouldn’t be hitting that!)Facebook News Feed
StoriesFacebook and Instagram Stories

Our thoughts on YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads

There’s no real clear winner here. Both platforms offer a lot of versatility and options when it comes to telling stories with video. As always, it comes down to who you are trying to target, and the desired outcome of your ad campaign. Google does offer a slightly broader reach with its network of Google Video Partners.

Pricing and ROI

Advertising on YouTube can be relatively cheap. The platform doesn’t charge for the first 30 seconds (or the length of the ad), so an ad only costs if a user chooses to watch it.

There are a bunch of studies that have been done, comparing the cost and performance of YouTube Ad campaigns compared to Facebook Video ads. And the results vary. A report by Social Media Lab in 2017 found that  Facebook had increased the video ad costs for advertisers, which went up by 43% in the Q4 of 2017, compared to other social media platforms. They tested their hypothesis that YouTube ads are capable of yielding a larger number of free trials than video ads on Facebook.

They had spent almost the same amount of money on both platforms, which was $742 on Facebook and €602 on YouTube ads. Results showed that Facebook managed to achieve a link click-through rate, or CTR, or 0.21%, while YouTube ads managed to get 0.31%, which is 10 base points higher.

What that means is that a larger number of people clicked on their YouTube ads rather than on their Facebook ads on an average basis.

YouTube ads generated more traffic than Facebook ads for pretty similar ads spent.

Studies also show that it can be less expensive to target keywords on YouTube than by using traditional Google Search. YouTube views' average cost is $0.06 per click, which is way less than the average Google search cost per click, which is said to be around $1 or $2 each.

Conclusion on YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads

Ideally, any modern, integral digital marketing plan will include ad spend across both platforms. However, with a limited budget, you should at least get started with YouTube Ads with laser-tight targeting.

A drop in advertisers on the YouTube Ad platform means that there is space to compete effectively, creating an emotional connection with your brand through video.

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