Facebook vs. Google After 14 Quarters: Facebook’s Giant Leap

When I first joined Ampush, an official Facebook Marketing Partner, I found it convenient to compare mobile-first, in-feed advertising platforms like the kind Facebook dominates to the world of mobile ecosystems I had just left behind at Microsoft.

I made the comparison this way: “Facebook is to iOS as no one is to Android.”

That’s because iOS, Apple’s smartphone platform, has produced more money for developers than Android for quite some time. Similarly, Facebook’s dominance in attracting advertising budgets has surpassed its nearest rivals, mainly Twitter and Pinterest, by a wide margin. That gap grew even larger after Facebook opened Instagram to advertisers last summer.

Last week, Facebook announced its 14th quarterly earnings as a public company. For the last few quarters I’ve used earnings season to compare Facebook’s top-line revenue growth to Google’s. The two companies have had such similar financial trajectories that it’s been easy to argue that Facebook, just like Google, is here to stay as a must for marketers. Just as they wouldn’t think of ignoring search advertising, so, too, should they embrace Facebook’s platform, which skews heavily to mobile and offers some of the best features of intent-based search advertising with the rich and engaging creative seen in video and display.

Put bluntly, Facebook had a killer quarter. Some of that is the product of a seasonal uptick, which shows up in the chart below every fourth quarter. Political advertising spending may have contributed to growth, too.

Here’s the latest comparison, though I’d argue it’s time to conclude something slightly different from the data:

Facebook vs Google 14 quarters

Given the upheaval at Twitter and the fact that Pinterest’s Marketing Developer Partner program isn’t even one year old yet, perhaps the better analogy goes like this:

“Facebook is to Google search as all other social-mobile ad platforms are to Bing.”

From a purely economic point of view, Facebook, like Google, has no peer. Not only were the company’s quarterly revenues nearly 8x that of Twitter as of Sept. 30, 2015 (the last quarter for which we have data on both companies), but Facebook made 53% more money per user, too.

For the record, I’m bullish on Twitter and Pinterest. Despite their limitations, both already offer advertisers a suite of rich and engaging ad products, combined with scale and rich user information. They will improve their offerings, and the financial results should follow.

In the meantime, though, hats off to Facebook for performance that is impressive in its own right while showing just how far its rivals have to go before this will become a multi-horse race.

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