Digital Dominance: the rise and rise of Google and Facebook

Google, YouTube and Facebook are the three most visited websites in the world and have an eye-watering number of users. Google handles more than 40,000 searches every second - that’s 1.2 trillion searches a year. The number of active users on Facebook now stands at 2.74 billion, more than a third of the world’s population.

We spoke to three marketing professionals about why these digital giants present such exciting opportunities for marketers, whether you work for a global brand or a new start-up.

Written by Allie Fitzgibbon |

Social media
Digital platforms have become so fundamental to any business’s marketing strategy that marketers with the most up-to-date skills are in high demand.

Google and Facebook’s influence shows no sign of easing. Google owns 70 per cent of the search market share, and is the global leader in ‘paid search’ advertising. Meanwhile Facebook continues to grow rapidly, particularly in the Middle East and Africa which saw nearly 14 per cent growth in 2020, and dominates the ‘paid social’ sphere.

Google and Facebook have democratised marketing and allowed tiny businesses to challenge the incumbent players...you can invest in Facebook and Google ads for as little as $10 to bring new customers in.

It’s unsurprising, therefore, that these digital platforms have become so fundamental to any business’s marketing strategy and that marketers with the most up-to-date knowledge and skills in this area are in high demand. ‘Digital and social media marketing’ is one of five compulsory modules in the University of London’s MSc in Marketing, which has been designed with academic leadership from Birkbeck, University of London.

Jalin Somaiya is a freelance CMO who previously spent seven years at Google. More recently, he has run marketing for banking challenger, Tide, and Amsterdam-based fintech 'unicorn', Mollie.

Jalin said: “Over the last couple of years, people globally have for the first time spent less time watching TV than they do online. Which is good for marketers, who are able to target and measure better online and are finally starting to understand 'which half of marketing spend' actually works. Google's properties, including YouTube, and Facebook's, which include Instagram and WhatsApp, are by far the largest on the internet and their reach is extended through their large networks of advertising partners. So they are, by some distance, the most important ad platforms of today.”

Jalin believes the pandemic has offered an opportunity for the marketing profession to take stock. He said: “Any plans written before March 2020 have been rendered meaningless - forcing marketers to do some overdue re-thinking! Online advertising and ecommerce have boomed and offline channels like event marketing, which enterprise B2B marketers have historically favoured, are no longer in scope.”

Marketers are able to target and measure better online and are finally starting to understand 'which half of marketing spend' actually works.

Not only do digital platforms offer equal access to global audiences, but their affordability makes them a particularly attractive channel for entrepreneurs and small businesses. According to Google’s own research, businesses make an average of two dollars’ revenue for every dollar they invest in Google Ads; while the cost of Facebook Ads is actually decreasing, with the average cost per click across all industries estimated to be $1.72.

Smart marketers and companies are using data to their advantage, refining key variables such as channels and creative to drive performance growth.

Joseph Fitzgibbon, Founder of Growth & Company marketing consultancy, has been advising brands for more than 12 years. He supports clients ranging from corporates, including PepsiCo and Diageo, to SMEs with 10 employees, to optimise their marketing, product and commercial strategy.

Joseph said: “Google and Facebook have democratised marketing and allowed tiny businesses to challenge the incumbent players. Small start-ups can disrupt major industries because they compete on a level playing field with established rivals.

“Traditional marketing, such as television and out-of-home, requires a large budget and is therefore prohibitive for many small businesses. By contrast, you can invest in Facebook and Google ads for as little as $10 to bring new customers in.”

Sydney-based Ben Bocarro has been working as a Growth Marketing Consultant for more than five years, supporting start-ups across multiple sectors to optimise their digital customer acquisition strategies.

Ben said: “The availability of data, and the way that insight is drawn from data, has had a monumental effect on the way marketing programs are run. Smart marketers and companies are using this data to their advantage, refining key variables such as channels and creative to drive performance growth.”

His advice for anyone interested in digital marketing is to expand your skills to improve your career prospects.

“Facebook and Google are the key platforms that will hold you in good stead well into the future. Depending on your interest, you can go down the path of organic marketing - areas like content, SEO, organic social - or paid marketing. There are some overlaps between these areas and while you might choose to specialise in one area when you first start your career, branching out and expanding your skillset will open up more career paths.”

A flooded marketplace means marketers need to increase their pace of innovation to win the race on platforms like Google and Facebook.

Joseph added: “The lack of barriers to entry, accelerated by the pandemic, has increased competition on those platforms. An entrepreneur can run a business from his bedroom and challenge well-established rivals. However, a flooded marketplace also means marketers need to increase their pace of innovation to win the race on platforms like Google and Facebook.”

Find out how you can maximise your company’s digital potential with the University of London’s CIM accredited MSc in Marketing.