Which Ad Buy Has a Better Bang for Your Buck: Facebook or YouTube Video?

Reebok and Pixability put them to the test

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Like many major marketers, Reebok wondered where its digital video ad dollars might be better spent—Facebook or YouTube—and it partnered with Pixability to find out. The company tested its campaign by Venables Bell & Partners, featuring NFL player J.J. Watt endorsing the ZPump Fusion sneaker. 

The results showed that combining YouTube and Facebook buys is the most effective method for marketers. Reebok shared the data during Adweek's Executive Lab, which was sponsored by Pixability, in New York on Thursday.

YouTube had a higher video view rate (23.6 percent of people who scrolled past the video viewed it versus Facebook's 5.4 percent) and video completion rate (20.4 percent versus Facebook's 4.5 percent) as well as a lower cost per view. But Facebook had higher engagement. 

"You want to meet the needs of the consumer. It depends on the time, where they're going to be able to watch it, when they watch it," said Jessica Ruscito, Reebok's director of U.S. media and digital branding. "You want to make sure any time that a consumer wants to engage with your brand, you've got the content to deliver upon that need."

If marketers want higher engagement, Facebook wins out with a 0.301 percent engagement rate per impression versus YouTube's 0.163 percent. Though, Pixability and Reebok noted it's hard to make a direct comparison between the two platforms since Facebook's "interactive elements" (Likes and Shares) are "simpler, easier to understand and take up more screen real estate."  

When it comes to cost, Facebook's $0.02 charge for a three-second view may seem attractive. But when Pixability compared whole 30-second-ad views, it found that Facebook was more expensive: marketers will spend $0.11 on Facebook and $0.07 on YouTube. 

"I'm not sold that the three-second [spot] is going to work," said Ruscito. "Based on that, and knowing how the industry has changed, you need to test it and see if it can make an impact. But as a best practice we always try to make a 15-second spot [work] as much as possible." 

@KristinaMonllos kristina.monllos@adweek.com Kristina Monllos is a senior editor for Adweek.