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  • Writer's pictureJason Burlin

Facebook vs Youtube for advertisers

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

If you’re an advertiser, you’re probably fed up with the number of articles that compare different advertising platforms and their pros and cons. Debates about which platform is better are endless. The point of this article is not to compare costs between advertising on YouTube and Facebook, but to discuss both platforms from a performance standpoint. Many active Facebook and Instagram advertisers who are looking to broaden their marketing efforts to more channels often consider expanding to YouTube. The reasoning makes sense – you never want to put too many eggs in the same basket. By having your marketing budget spread out across different platforms, you’re theoretically less vulnerable to dramatic changes. 

At first glance, numbers on YouTube and Facebook look quite similar. Facebook is the largest social network, and YouTube comes in second. Both platforms are visually-based and both have somewhat similar costs and similar objectives. But there is one difference that gives Facebook the edge over YouTube and many other platforms. When someone comes to YouTube, they come to watch something specific. They usually know what they are looking for. On Facebook, people come for entertainment. When you log onto Facebook, in most cases, you’re not coming for something specific, and that opens up the door for business! 

I don’t know about you, but I find YouTube ads really annoying. I don’t remember the last time I clicked on one of them. YouTube ads always feel like they just get in the way. Don’t get me wrong, some of them might be relevant, but the timing is wrong. On Facebook, however, ads are a built-in part of your newsfeed. There’s a massive difference between showing your ad to someone who is in the middle of something and showing your ad to someone who is simply passing by. 

The other great advantage that Facebook ads have over YouTube is that because advertisements appear as regular posts in your newsfeed, advertisers can hide the fact they are ads and people might treat them as if they are organic posts. If you don’t pay attention to small details and don’t notice that little sponsored text on it, you probably won’t realize it’s an ad. Try to do that with YouTube. I don’t think there is anyone who can’t tell the difference between an ad and a regular video on Youtube. The fact that people perceive some ads as regular organic posts just increases their likelihood to be interested. It makes a huge difference in your decision-making process. 


Unless you are one of the largest advertisers in the world, you probably can’t invest much of your advertising budget on awareness. Awareness can’t be measured in dollar value, and if it can’t be measured, it’s impossible to track the results. 

There is absolutely no comparison between the two platforms when it comes to performance.

People who work at Google will confirm that YouTube can’t compete with Facebook on a performance model. Facebook will always have the upper hand. The fact that Facebook ads are shown as regular posts makes all the difference. 

Plus, the difference in timing of when your ads appear make your chances of converting greater. Advertising on Facebook is like going to a shopping mall to browse, while advertising on YouTube is to going to the mall to buy something specific. If you are like most advertisers and are looking to run a performance campaign with a positive return on investment on your ads, there is no question that Facebook will deliver more effective results than YouTube. 


One of the greatest ideas that Facebook implemented when they launched their ad platform is its ability to add social proof to the ads. How many times have you seen a post that one of your friends liked or commented on? How does that make you feel? Your curiosity rises dramatically and suddenly you might be interested enough to click and learn more. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to understand the value of this feature and how it could help establish brand trust and credibility for an ad that you’ve never seen before. 


Facebook has the ability to cross-track your behavior across different devices and browsers, while YouTube’s ability is limited. Read more about cross-device measurements.  

You know how sometimes you come back to YouTube and their recommendations on the homepage are irrelevant to you? That’s exactly why. On YouTube, you don’t have to be logged in to watch videos. With Facebook, you must be logged in to pretty much do anything interesting. They want to track everything. It might be bad for you as a user, but it’s awesome for advertisers.

Advertisers thrive when there is as much data as possible, and that’s why these platforms try to get as much data about you as they can. YouTube’s lack of tracking access can hinder your advertising performance. 


The comparison between YouTube and Facebook for advertisers has been widely debated over the last few years. Advertisers who feel like they maxed out their potential on Facebook seek additional social media platforms and consider YouTube as an alternative. When it comes to performance-based campaigns, Facebook outperforms YouTube in every aspect. The fact that users come to Facebook for entertainment and not to search for something specific like they do on YouTube increases advertisers’ success with their campaigns. Factors like social proof features on Facebook ads and anonymity on YouTube make Facebook the better choice for advertisers who want to run performance-based campaigns. 

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Jason Burlin

A seasoned marketer with more than a decade of experience in online paid advertising. Managed more than $150M in ad spend and worked with more than 500+ brands. He is known as the unconventional marketer.

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