Both Google and Facebook are market leaders in digital advertising. The two tech giants depend mainly on digital advertising as their main source of revenue. While Google’s non-advertising revenue has grown fast during recent years, Facebook still depends mainly on the revenue it generates from digital Facebook ads. However, over the last five years, both companies have enjoyed a sizeable growth in their ad revenues driven mainly by the shift towards digital marketing.
Ad revenues of Facebook and Google Compared
The following table shows the net revenue of each of the two players from advertising. While there is still a major difference between the ad revenues of the two brands and Google seems to be a lot ahead of Facebook, the growth rates of each of the two are impressive.
|Year||Facebook Ad Revenue ($mn)||Google Ad revenue ($mn)|
Google’s Ad revenue:
Google’s main source of revenue is advertising and it generates its ad revenue from the Google properties that include Google search and other properties as well as YouTube apart from Google Network members’ properties. The ad revenues of Google mainly include the following:
- Google Search & other – It includes the revenues generated on Google search properties (including revenues from traffic generated by search distribution partners who use Google.com as their default search in browsers, toolbars, etc.) and other Google-owned and operated properties including Gmail, Google Maps, and Google Play;
- YouTube ad revenue: YouTube revenue mainly includes revenues generated on YouTube properties; and
- Google Network Members’ properties: It includes the revenues generated mainly on Google Network Members’ properties that participate in AdMob, AdSense, and Google Ad Manager.
Google’s search and other revenues increased by $12.8 billion in 2019 compared to the previous year. Several interrelated factors drove the growth of Google’s revenue from search and others including growth in search queries resulting from an ongoing increase in user adoption and usage, mainly on mobile devices, continued growth in advertiser activity, as well as the improvements Google made in ad formats and delivery. However, revenue growth in this area during 2019 was partially offset by a stronger dollar worldwide.
The YouTube ad revenue of Google increased by around $4 billion in 2019 compared to the previous year mainly driven by direct response and brand advertising products, both of which benefited from improvements to ad formats and delivery and growth in advertiser spending.
The ad revenue of Google from its network member properties grew by $1.5 billion in 2019 compared to the previous year driven mainly by strength in both AdManager and AdMob. A stronger dollar worldwide partially offset the revenue growth.
The number of paid clicks through Google’s advertising programs on Google properties grew by 23% in 2019 compared to 2018 driven mainly by factors including growth in search queries resulting from ongoing increase in user adoption and usage, mainly on mobile devices, continued growth in advertiser activity, as well as the improvements Google made in ad formats and delivery. However, costs per click declined by 7% compared to 2018. The decline in costs per click was mainly driven by continued growth in YouTube engagement ads where cost-per-click remains lower than on Google’s other advertising platforms.
Facebook Ad Revenues:
Facebook generates substantally all of its revenue by selling advertising placement to marketers. In 2019, while the net revenue of Facebook grew to $70.7 billion, a growth of 27% compared to the previous year; its advertising revenue also grew 27% compared to the previous year. Advertising revenue of Facebook reached $69.66 billion in 2019 compared to $55 billion in 2018. The main drver of growth in ad revenue for Facebook was the increase in the number of ads delivered during 2019. Compared to 2018, the total number of ads delivered by Facebook grew by 33% in 2019. This was higher than the previous year. In 2018, Facebook had delivered only 22% more ads than 2017. Apart from increase in the number of users and ghigher user engagement, the growth in number and frequency of ads delivered across Facebook products also drove the growth in the total number of ads shown by Facebook. However, the decrease in the average price per ad slightly offset the growth in ad revenue for Facebook. In 2019, the average price per ad decreased by 5% compared to the previous year. On the other hand, during 2018, the company had enjoyed a 13% growth in ad rates. Despite that, the growth in number of users and higher user engagement continued to driver higher growth in ad revenue for Facebook.
The worldwide ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) which is Facebook’s metrics for measuring ad performance grew 17% in 2019 compared to the previous year. In 2019, ARPU experienced the most significant growth in the US and Canada region where it increased by 24% followed by 20% in Europe, 18% in the Asia Pacific, and 16% in the rest of the world. Traditionally, advertising spending is the strongest in the industry during the holiday season or the fourth quarter. Facebook has experienced the highest ad revenue consistently during this quarter. In 2019, the ad revenue of Facebook for the fourth quarter reached $20.74 billion compared to $16.64 billion during the same period last year.
While both players have enjoyed significant growth in its ad revenues, Google’s revenue from digital advertising is much higher than Facebook. As of 2019, there was a difference of $65 billion between the ad revenues of Google and Facebook. This difference has widened compared to the previous year when Facebook’s ad revenue was around $61.4 billion less than that of Google.
Other Sources: Annual Reports of Facebook and Google (2019).