Are Search Ads or Social Ads the Revolution?

Danny Sullivan has posted a great article for Advertising Age about search ads being the revolutionary advertising tool, not social ads. Danny has been a thought leader in the search engine industry for more then a decade so he has a slight bias but honestly, he makes a hell of a point:

Consider what Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg told us about the transformation: “We are announcing a new advertising system, not about broadcasting messages, about getting into the conversations between people.”

“Getting into” conversations. Yes, how we enjoy that. You’re in a coffee shop talking with a friend, and suddenly along comes the spokesperson for an artificial sweetener, just wanting to have a chat.

Go. Away.

Facebook holds the most accurate depiction of the social graph (at least in the United States). Facebook also has the ability to target ads based on profile data, through trusted connections and through conversations. While this may be the holy grail of market research it may not necessarily be the holy grail of advertising channels. As I previously suggested, Facebook has an unproven advertising model. For Facebook’s sake I hope that they have data backing up this model, otherwise they may have trouble validating their $15 billion valuation.

Danny definitely has a great point: “Search offers a key way for new products to emerge and be spread around. People turn to search for solutions.” It’s really as simple as that. I have to agree with Danny but if there was some way to combine the best of both worlds, you would truly have a phenomenal advertising opportunity. Imagine if Google enabled advertisers to not just market by keyword but also to select demographic information for each visitor. This would be revolutionary.

I can guarantee you that Google is working on this but they are going to need access to the type of data that Facebook has. We’ll see how this pans out but together, Facebook and Google would be a truly unstoppable force. Too bad Google doesn’t have an extra $15 billion to spend. In the meantime, search advertising reigns supreme and Facebook will be left to prove the viability of Social Ads. Facebook may come out on top but we still live in the age of the search engine.