YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Which Should You Use?

YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Which Should You Use?

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In the world of digital marketing, knowing how to reach your target audience is vital. Three of the most influential social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok – these platforms are where your audience is, meaning your brand needs to be there, too. 

Each of these platforms has its own benefits (and sometimes, its own drawbacks), and each one caters to different audience segments. Depending on your business, your target audience, and the types of advertising campaigns you’re running, In this blog post, we’ll look at Facebook ads vs. YouTube ads vs. TikTok ads, helping you evaluate your options based on things like features, audience reach, and effectiveness.

So, which platform – Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok – is best for your business? Let’s get down to it.

Facebook vs. YouTube vs. TikTok: Understanding Key Social Media Advertising Platforms

Before we can explore advertising on these platforms, let’s explore the platforms themselves and just what, exactly, makes them worth advertising on.

Facebook Ads

With its vast user base, exceeding 2.8 billion (yes, billion with a b) monthly active users, Facebook is the proverbial 800-pound gorilla of the social media advertising space. Facebook is used by people of all demographics, but these days has a user base that trends slightly older than the youngest age bracket.

The strongest age demographics for Facebook tend to be ages 25-34 and 35-44, because these are the users who came of age when Facebook was exciting and new. Older users also have gravitated towards Facebook, though younger users have other options.

Facebook advertising is widely used not just because Facebook is such a ubiquitous platform, but because the extensive targeting options and ad formats of Facebook ads make it a versatile tool for marketers. Facebook ads are integrated across meta’s family of apps, including Instagram and Messenger (and perhaps one day Threads), providing a broad reach.

YouTube Ads

Here’s a fun fact about ice hockey: The fastest player to reach 1,000 points was Wayne Gretzky. The second fastest player to reach 1,000 points was… also Wayne Gretzky, going from 1,001 to 2,000. Similarly, the most-used search engine in the world is Google, and the second most-used search engine in the world is YouTube (which is, of course, owned by Google). YouTube boasts over 2 billion monthly users who, collectively, watch more than a billion hours of video every day.

YouTube ads leverage Google’s sophisticated targeting capabilities, making them highly effective for reaching specific audiences – and those specific audiences are on YouTube. Video content about video games? It’s there. Makeup tutorials? It’s there. Documentaries on the history of terrier breeding? I’m not going to check, but there’s probably something there. 

While YouTube arguably has the most diverse audience of any social media platform, it tends to skew slightly younger, with the biggest part of its user base being between 20 and 34 years old.

TikTok Ads

TikTok is the new kid in town, and though it’s much younger than the other two platforms we’re discussing, it’s had a near-meteoric rise, especially among younger audiences. With over 1 billion monthly active users, TikTok’s short-form video format has proved extremely successful, and has led to YouTube and Meta following suit with platforms like YouTube Shorts and Instagram Reels. 

Another factor behind TikTok’s popularity is its potent algorithm, which lets viewers find videos on topics that interest them, even from smaller content creators – ensuring that TikTok users are glued to their screens for hours at a time. This also makes it easier for advertisers to reach users based on engagement patterns and interests.

TikTok’s user base is much younger than the other two platforms we’re discussing in this blog, with a significant majority not just under the age of 30, but under 18. It’s especially popular among users from Gen Z and Gen Alpha, so if you’re targeting younger viewers, it’s an ideal starting point.

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YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Format Options

All three platforms offer a variety of different ad formats that might be better suited for different styles of campaigns. Here are some of the most commonly used ad types across these various platforms.

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads - Carousel ads

Source: BoatCover

  • Image ads. The most straightforwardly common type of Facebook ad, these are images that come attached to a short snippet of text. They’re simple and effective for brand awareness, promotions, and the like.
  • Video ads. These ads are like image ads, but rather than a still image, you get a short video that users can watch. These ads are more expensive to produce, but can be very effective at storytelling.
  • Carousel ads. These ads can showcase multiple images in a single ad, making them perfect for selling, say, lines of clothing.

YouTube Ads

Youtube Ads

Source: Seal Skin

Most ads on YouTube’s platform are in a video format – since that’s what people are there to see – but there are a variety of different types. 

  • Skippable ads. Also called TrueView ads, these ads appear before or during a video. As their name suggests, they can be skipped.
  • Non-skippable ads. These ads are usually shorter, typically no more than 15 seconds long, and must be watched.
  • Bumper ads. These ads are non-skippable but much shorter, with a maximum length of just 6 seconds.
  • Overlay ads. These are semi-transparent image ads that appear on the lower part of a video. Unlike the others, they are still images.

TikTok Ads

TikTok Ads

Source: Seal Skin

The TikTok ad platform is significantly less mature than those of the other two platforms we’re discussing, but it still manages to deliver some ad formats that can be quite effective. 

  • In-feed ads. These appear in a user’s feed as they scroll through content, and if done well can be indistinguishable from – and even just as entertaining as – normal videos.
  • Brand takeover. These full-screen ads appear when the app is opened.
  • Branded hashtag challenges. Taking advantage of the various “XYZ Challenge” trends on TikTok, these are ways to encourage user-generated content around a specific hashtag.
  • Branded effects. These are custom filters and effects for users to apply to their videos. For instance, it would be possible to promote a new movie in the “Avatar” franchise with a filter that turned people’s skins blue.

TikTok Ads vs. Facebook Ads vs. YouTube Ads: How Much Does It Cost?

Obviously, one key metric in any advertising campaign is the bang you’re getting for your proverbial buck.

When it comes to Facebook Ads vs. YouTube Ads, both platforms operate under an auction-based system, where advertisers bid for ad placements. As a result, the cost can vary significantly based on multiple factors, like targeting options and level of competition.

On average, the cost-per-click (CPC) on Facebook can range from $0.50 to $2, but it can be higher in more competitive niches. Given the video-oriented nature of YouTube, the driving metric tends to be cost-per-view (CPV) rather than CPC. The average CPV is usually between $0.10 and $0.30, and it only counts as a “view” when users watch the ad for at least 30 seconds or otherwise engage with it.

Both Facebook and YouTube have detailed analytics and tracking options, the latter being integrated with Google Analytics. This means that you can measure your ROI effectively, optimizing your Facebook Ads or YouTube Ads campaigns for better performance.

As previously discussed, TikTok is a less mature platform when it comes to advertising. Due to TikTok ads having relatively high engagement rates, their ads can be a little more expensive than those on other platforms. 

TikTok ads come with a variety of bidding options and prices, with the most common being cost-per-mile (CPM), where a mile is 1000 impressions, CPC, and CPV. The average CPM is around $10, with the average CPC being about $1. As with the other platforms, this can vary based on your targeting, ad format, and competition.  

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Facebook Ads vs. YouTube Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Which Gets More Engagement? 

Facebook ads, YouTube ads, and TikTok ads can all be quite effective in the hands of the right marketing team. However, they all have various strengths.

Facebook ads, for instance, are exceptionally good at driving web traffic and generating leads, especially due to Facebook’s sophisticated targeting options. The extensive user data and analytics tools maintained by Meta can provide extremely valuable insights for further optimizing ad performance.

YouTube ads, on the other hand, are great at building brand awareness. When done right, they can capture user attention and convey complex information far quicker than a simple image ad on Facebook can. These ads are great for brands that want to showcase new products or tell stories – and YouTube’s vast content library and search functionality ensures that ads reach users who are actively searching for related content. 

TikTok ads, thanks to their seamless integration with the rest of the platform, are unparalleled in driving user engagement. TikTok’s emphasis on creativity and user participation makes it ideal for brands who have a great idea for how to go viral or for getting oodles of great user-generated content.

TikTok Ads vs. YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which Is Right For Your Business?

We’ve gone over the basic information when it comes to Facebook ads vs. YouTube ads, or YouTube ads vs. Facebook ads, but at the end of the day… which one really is right for your business? Which platform should you be advertising on? They all have their own strengths, after all.

Consider Your Audience 

The first step in choosing the right social media platform to advertise on is to understand your target audience and demographics. If your audience spans various age groups, then Facebook Ads might be your default option due to its diverse userbase. On the other hand, if you’re targeting younger audiences, especially Gen Z, TikTok ads could give you the best reach. And, if you’re hoping to split the difference, YouTube ads could let you reach a relatively younger (but still quite diverse) audience.

Choose Your Goals Wisely 

It would be very convenient if every digital marketing campaign you ran were “instantly get thousands of new customers, whether they’ve heard of our brand before or not.” Unfortunately, the world doesn’t work that way, and you should always keep in mind your goals when you choose a social media advertising platform. 

Facebook Ads are versatile and can support a wide range of objectives, but are especially good at lead generation. YouTube ads, on the other hand, are great for storytelling and product demonstrations. Both YouTube and TikTok ads are excellent at driving brand awareness, but TikTok is better at getting user engagement and participation, making the platform extremely effective when it comes to community building and going viral.

Assess Your Budget 

The three platforms – Facebook ads vs. YouTube ads vs. TikTok ads – wouldn’t seem like they’re that different when it comes to budgeting, but when you’re targeting tens of thousands of people, $0.50 vs. $1 CPC can really add up. 

Facebook ads offer some of the most flexible budgeting options, making them accessible for businesses of all sizes, whether they’re multinational enterprises or startups. YouTube ads are slightly more expensive, and creating a video ad is inherently more expensive than a simple image ad, but this platform offers excellent value for money. TikTok ads currently have the highest cost, but when done right can deliver strong ROI through an immersive ad format and the ability to go viral.

YouTube Ads vs. Facebook Ads vs. TikTok Ads: Which Should You Use?

At the end of the story, these three extremely popular platforms cater to different audiences and business needs. Facebook ads excel in versatility, from extensive targeting options to versatile ad formats, making them suitable for a wide range of objectives. 

YouTube ads leverage the power of video and an impossibly vast library of content on just about any topic you could imagine to capture user attention and drive brand awareness, even in extremely niche topics. TikTok ads, on the other hand, can be immersive and engaging, and excel at drawing the interest of younger audiences and fostering community participation. 

Ultimately, we can’t answer the goal of if YouTube ads vs. TikTok ads vs. Facebook ads are better for your business, because we don’t know your brand or your goals. However, we hope this blog has helped you understand these three extremely important and popular platforms, so that you can start using them for yourselves.

If you find it’s still too overwhelming, don’t despair, because the pros can help. Talk to an expert social media advertising agency like SevenAtoms today and get started using these platforms to grow your brand.

Master Social Media Advertising


Author Bio

John Funk

John Funk

John Funk is a veteran copywriter, editor, and digital marketer. With a background in online journalism and a passion for fantasy and Dungeons & Dragons, he works to craft compelling narratives and content you enjoy reading.

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