PPC Heroes: Which Ad platform is Best?

PPC Heroes: Which Ad platform is Best?

The digital marketing world is awash with choices and tough decisions. There are so many platforms with their own array of advertising superpowers, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Oliver Wood
Oliver Wood

The digital marketing world is awash with choices and tough decisions. There are so many platforms with their own array of advertising superpowers, it can be hard to know where to begin.

Ideally, you want to expand your audience and will market on more than one digital platform but where do you start? which are the most crucial to start with?

Well, starting with the platform that has the widest audience provides better scope for targeting. You should always target the platform that is most popular with your targeted demographic. If you are unsure which this is, don’t worry, because here's a graphic rundown of the six big heroes of the digital platforms and the powers each one holds:


In all seriousness, these platforms are not ‘the be all and end all’ of digital marketing. Any digital marketer will know there are many other useful and profitable platforms, such as Instagram, Twitter, Bing, and Snapchat. However, this playful superhero themed infographic is not without a grain of truth. In fact, many of the humorous points it makes are very accurate because digital platforms have clearly risen to be the best and most well known in their respective niches.

So, who are these platforms really? Which audiences use them and which will be best suited for your business goals?

Meet Google

Google is a search engine but much more than that, it is probably the most recognised digital platform in the world. In fact, Google is so universally known we hardly need to introduce it.

It’s easy to see why people would compare Google to superman. In the digital world, it is nearly all powerful. If you get on Google’s bad side you may as well shoot your digital strategy in the foot.

Which audiences can you find on Google?

Pretty much everyone. It sounds scary but it’s true, as Google has 77.3% of the search market. If dominating the search market by such a wide margin wasn’t enough, Google also has YouTube and the GDN and with these multi powers it can reach 90% of all internet traffic.

This means Google has its claws, or its gentle benevolent hands, on almost everybody online. Whether they are people who need to find a particular website, read news online, check the weather, search for products or restaurants or hotels or anything. Who can even be bothered to type a whole URL into their browser anyway? Even if you know the site it would probably be faster to Google it anyway.

Those already on specific websites are being marketed to as well, thanks to the GDN and nearly 5 billion videos are watched on YouTube every day.

Google is the dominant force in organic and paid search. Let’s just hope it always uses its powers for good and not evil.


Yahoo, Bing and Baidu are the main competitors of Google but their share of the search market is tiny in comparison at 5.6%, 7.31% and 8.13% respectively. With stats like that Google can afford to be a little arrogant and it’s no wonder people make so many jokes about Bing and Yahoo being used for little more than looking up Google:


Which business goals are most suited to the Google platform?

All jokes aside, you need Google for your digital marketing. There’s no way around it. Google is a god to the SEOs, PPCs and digital marketers of the world.

If you want to rank high in search engines, increase traffic to your website, increase brand awareness or conversions then you should definitely be using Google as part of your strategy.

By Optimising your site for Google organic search, you will automatically be Optimising it for other search engines. If it’s faster, paid traffic and conversions you are after, then Google AdWords has the most tools at its disposal and places your ads on the most popular search engine and the largest network of websites. If video advertising is your thing then it is a no-brainer that you should be using YouTube and Optimising your videos to be shown in Google search.

Meet Facebook

Who could have ever imaged we were so bored, easily addicted to nonsense, self-indulgent and nosy?

Mark Zuckerberg apparently and creating the world’s most popular social media site has made him a billionaire. He is now the 5 th richest person in the world.

Much as Google has risen to engulf other features beyond search, so too has Facebook accumulated some of its diverse rivals. Facebook owns Messenger, What’s App and Instagram and therefore has a wide range of entertaining features at its disposal to keep us all glued to our laptops and mobiles.

Which audiences can you find on Facebook?

Again, just like Google, almost everybody. Facebook has 1.86 billion monthly active users and therefore, shares a lot of the same audience as Google but this doesn’t mean their audiences are the same. While our friends, family, co-workers and pretty much everyone we know use both Google and Facebook, we use them for very different reasons.

Our mindset on Facebook is different than our mindset on Google. While it’s often the same people, they are not searching for something in particular. They are relaxing, socializing with their friends and attracted to colorful photos. As we explained in the recent Paid Traffic article on Facebook conversion rate optimisation, the people on Facebook are higher up the conversion funnel.


Facebook has many enemies in the forms of Twitter, Pinterest, SnapChat, Tumblr and even LinkedIn. While some of these social media sites were quite different in their appeal, in the beginning, Facebook has used its influence to absorb and mimic all their best features.


The only weakness Facebook does seem to have is privacy. While the online communication world has many appeals, anonymity (for better or worse) has always been one of them. Facebook does not really want to provide this, hence why digital platforms like Tumblr and 4Chan persist. They hark back to the good old days when secrecy on the web was possible.

Which business goals are most suited to the Facebook platform?

Facebook is powerful for communication with your target market and learning more about them. It is also great for brand awareness and reputation building. If you can get your brand and content in front of the right people, it is your chance to dazzle them. You could even build up such a visible and positive reputation that users go straight to your site and by-pass the Google search. This is advantageous as they may not notice your competitors in search.

This doesn’t mean you can’t lure people away from Facebook to increase your website traffic too. By dangling the right content in front of the right people you can easily capture their wandering eyes and even convince them to convert, if you play your cards right. Reaching a highly-targeted audience is exactly what paid traffic on Facebook is all about.

The best way to think about how you market on Facebook vs Google is that on Google, users want to find something, so put your best qualities forward but on Facebook, users want to be in the spotlight, so make your marketing about them not you.

With Facebook advertising, you also have the distinct advantage of not really being limited to Facebook. Since Facebook acquired Instagram this has opened up even more possibilities.

Instagram has 600 million users globally, 400 million using the platform every day and over 1 million monthly advertisers.

Instagram is a great tool for those already advertising on Facebook who would like to increase their audience base, as they will find the ad formats and targeting options very familiar.

Instagram and Facebook share similar audiences as well. They are both highly visual platforms, hence people who love sharing photos on Facebook will enjoy Instagram (although statistically the audience is slightly younger, as if often the case with younger apps and social media platforms).

Facebook advertisers, who have succeeded with stunning visuals, will find Instagram to be a natural next step. Instagram offers image, video and carousel ads just like Facebook and the addition of story ads.

Instagram has proven to be the ideal platform for brand awareness, driving traffic and for conversions if your product is highly visual. As advertising campaigns on both platforms can be run from within Facebook’s ads manager, Instagram has become yet another powerful gadget for the Facebook social media superhero.

In the modern digital marketing scene SEO, content marketing and PPC are so intertwined that you should really never have a one platform approach. If you had to only pick only two, make it Google and Facebook.

Meet Amazon

Amazon is the biggest and best online marketplace. It is the go-to spot for e-commerce shopping, where you can compare products and prices fast. Amazon started by gaining a monopoly on DVDs and books. Why would you ever buy books from anywhere else these days? Now you can find almost any kind of product on Amazon and buy within a couple of clicks.

Which audiences can you find on Amazon?

In one word, shoppers. Primarily end users but B2B is possible on Amazon too. While the appeal of Amazon is great, it does not cover everyone. It probably could become as big as Google and Facebook because everyone needs to buy something sometimes, however it retains the need for an account. Google can be used straight away by everyone but Facebook and Amazon both require account creation, so there will always be someone who doesn’t want to bother.

Fortunately, for both Amazon and Facebook, they have become so big and so trusted by being the best, that most people already have an account. Last year Amazon had 310 million active users and climbing. This is still far behind Facebook and Google and the account creation could be to blame. However, Amazon has done such a good job at being the best online marketplace, with its fast, easy system and great, cheap delivery service, that this figure is estimated to continue to grow.


eBay, Etsy and Craigslist are the competitors of Amazon but it is hard to say they are exactly alike or make an exact comparison. None are in the same league as Amazon for popularity and while digital marketers frequently compare them, they aren’t really the same at all.

Craigslist is great for end users to easily sell their possessions. You can advertise almost anything to your local area and hash out a deal. Need to get rid of that ugly dining room table? Not a problem with Craigslist. It doesn’t stop at products either. Craigslist is not just an online market place, it is also an advertisement board. This means you could look for flatmates or even love on Craigslist, though we aren’t sure we would recommend that last option.

Really Craigslist isn’t remotely like Amazon. Amazon brings trust and reliability and is better for proper sellers. You are also less likely to get scammed on Amazon.

eBay is more comparable but again not the same as Amazon. You don’t have the auction system on Amazon.

If you want a bargain or want to sell one item or have items with no ISBN or UPC code then eBay is a great choice. If you are a proper e-commerce business choose Amazon. Users have shown they just want reliability and speed for the most part and that is why they love Amazon. eBay also requires a Paypal account and for many that is one too many accounts to bother with. Amazon does the shipping as well, so users know they can get good deals on delivery costs, unlike eBay or Craigslist.

If you still unsure if Amazon or eBay are right for your business, check out this expert advice from a fellow e-commerce business.

Etsy was the one competitor which had a niche advantage over Amazon with its weird and wonderful and truly unique products. This was a result of marketing to artists and presenting handmade products.

Etsy may soon lose the advantage of their niche as Amazon has just brought out Handmade at Amazon.

Which business goals are most suited to the Amazon platform?

If you want to really focus on those conversions for your e-commerce store then Amazon is perfect for your business. If you are B2B, sell contracts or services then this probably won’t be a suitable platform.

If your business is looking to generate traffic for their website, brand awareness or user engagement, then you should not abandon platforms like Google and Facebook, even if you are an e-commerce store. This is because, while Amazon is highly trusted and great for conversions, it is the platform users trust not your brand. Your company will be hidden behind the Amazon brand and the fact that it is your product is incidental to the customer. Of course, that won’t stop them shredding your reputation to pieces on your Amazon reviews section if you don’t meet their expectations.

Meet Google Plus

Ah Google’s answer to Facebook ……unfortunately for Google. Google Plus is Google’s attempt at a social media platform and while there isn’t anything fundamentally wrong with Google Plus it isn’t very successful at the social media game.

Maybe Google got to the social media party too late, maybe they weren’t innovative enough but for whatever reason jokes like this are extremely common:


Which audiences can you find on Google Plus?

Sadly, the mean jokes aren’t an exaggeration in the case of Google Plus. Recent data shows only 9% of Google users have a Google Plus profile and the numbers could be as low as 1% if we consider actual active users – ouch.


Pretty much all social media. Although it would be fair to say the other big social media platforms don’t really consider Google Plus part of the competition.

Which business goals are most suited to the Google Plus platform?

If Google Plus has such a small audience why would you use it and why is it in the big six of digital platforms?

Surprisingly, you should be using Google Plus and for exactly the same reasons that Google is a part of your strategy. Google owns Google Plus and so even though it is a bit of a failure as a social media site (so far) it is very useful. Google obviously prioritises its own products, so sharing your content on Google Plus and linking your site to your Google Plus page can actually help your rankings. This means in a roundabout way you are helping your rankings, CTR and conversions because it is all supporting your Google search engine optimisation.

Another added benefit is that it might actually help your new content rank faster if you post it to Google Plus. To further aid your rankings make sure your page and profile are complete, linked to your site, 100% verified and start building circles. (the Google Plus versions of followers)

Google Plus does not offer any paid advertising but it can be a tool incorporated into your marketing for SEO purposes. If your business is looking for paid traffic Google Plus won’t be the platform for you and you should like to Google AdWords.

Meet Reddit

Ever wondered what happened to all the forums and chat rooms on the internet? They were such a big deal once. Did Facebook kill them? What about the privacy and range of conversion they offered, surely Facebook couldn’t destroy that?

The answer is it didn’t, they died because Reddit is the ultimate forum. Imagine a forum that covered every topic imaginable where the users controlled what content was most popular, the front page is tailored to your interests, you can be you or completely anonymous and there are no admins.

It may sound like the heaven of forum users and that is exactly what Reddit is.

Reddit is also not just a forum, at its core, it is a content discovery site that is built to allow discussions of those content pieces.

While it has the gross aspect of unleashing the good, the bad and the downright disturbing of the human mind onto such a public platform, that is why we secretly love Reddit. This video explains exactly what Reddit is and why it is so well loved:


Which audiences can you find on Reddit?

Arguably Reddit users are more tech savvy and younger in demographic than Facebook and Google, which has wider reach and applications. However, its demographic is aging all the time because all those 90s kids who grew up with chat rooms are aging.

On the other hand, it is rather hard to tell exactly who they are, thanks to the added anonymity but one thing is for sure, they are a great resource for learning what is popular across a species with a wide range of tastes.


There are other content discovery sites like Stumbleupon, yet none seem to have perfected the formulae quite like Reddit. Stumbleupon was a great concept but only has 30 million users to Reddit’s 169 million, so it isn’t really much of a contest. Stumbleupon struggled to grow and make money and with reports of layoffs, an inability to secure funds and a reluctance to release active user stats they could be headed for doom and oblivion, leaving Reddit victorious. Reddit has a very loyal following keeping it strong. Let’s hope increase monetisation with ads doesn’t irritate its userbase too much.

Which business goals are most suited to the Reddit platform?

Reddit is a good platform to use if you desire brand awareness and traffic. If you succeed in acquiring upvotes on content, users talking about you or even leaving a link to your content, you would gain a massive audience base.

Many gaming companies and other popular culture industries have found great digital marketing success by spending time building up their Reddit profiles and presence. Even if your industry does not lend itself to Reddit, it can be an incredible tool in your content marketing strategy development. On Reddit, you can find popular topics, content and questions on nearly every topic. This will help you exploit gaps in the market before your competitors even discover them.

Meet 9GAG

Your one stop shop for ‘lols’. Also, where memes start and where they go viral. To really understand what 9GAG is all about enjoy this gif of a mean chicken.

Yes, that’s 9GAG for you. The home of weird images, memes and gifs. Much like Reddit you can get upvoted or downvoted and it’s about sharing content and humor but less forum style and more imagery.

Which audiences can you find on 9GAG?

9GAG claims it is the number one platform for appealing to millennials and you are certain to find the younger demographics on here simply looking for humor.


4Chan and Reddit are 9GaGs top competitors. Loyalists to both platforms often criticise 9GAG for posting content from these rivals without credit to the original author. 9GAG has distinctly less forum style focus than Reddit. 4Chan covers far less topics than Reddit and both 4Chan and 9GaG are image based bullet boards.

Which business goals are most suited to the 9GAG platform?

If your brand is targeting millennials and you can manage to leverage humorous content, then it could be well worth bringing 9GAG into your strategy. However, be warned, many advertisers trying to include links or branding on their hilarious content report it being cropped to not show this information. Not to worry as 9GaG has introduced banner ad style spots so you can create brand awareness and paid traffic generation from 9GAG. Just be aware the targeted users will be pretty far up the funnel, as they are there to laugh at memes.

Remember that in the wild west of digital marketing one platform is rarely enough for a full, effective strategy. Even heroes work better in a team, so consider choosing the Justice League of digital marketing platforms rather than just banking on superman to get the job done.

Get in touch with one of our digital strategists today
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