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Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads

Google Ads or Facebook Ads? Which one should you use? Perhaps you should use both? In this article we will take a deep dive into both platforms and answer these questions.

In today’s digital age, businesses of all sizes and industries must adopt a digital marketing strategy to reach their target customers and grow their business. Two of the most popular digital marketing platforms are Google Ads and Facebook Ads. 

Both platforms offer great opportunities to promote your products and services and reach customers. But, which one is better for your business? It’s important to understand the differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads to maximize your efforts and ROI. 

Google Ads and Facebook Ads have their own strengths and weaknesses and each platform has something different to offer. By understanding the differences between these two platforms, you can make an informed decision about which one is better for your business.

It’s frequently assumed that Google Ads and Facebook Ads are direct rivals. This couldn’t be further from the truth. For most businesses, this is not an either or proposition. Millions of companies are taking advantage of advertising on both Google and Facebook to get the most visibility, boost leads and sales, and find new customers. 

In this guide, we’ll take a look at what makes Google Ads and Facebook Ads unique, how the two ad platforms operate, and why you should think about utilizing them as part of your overall digital marketing strategy.

What are the Differences Between Google Ads and Facebook Ads?

Before we breakdown the differences between these two platforms, we need to get a basic understanding of each. Below is a quick overview of both ad platforms and how they work. 

Google Ads

Google Ads, formerly known as Google AdWords, is the world’s most used pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platform, so much so that it has become interchangeable with the term “paid search.” Paid search involves targeting particular words and phrases and using text-based ads. Advertisers using Google bid on those words and phrases that are searched by users through the search engine. Every time a person clicks the ad, the advertiser pays a certain fee; thus, the name “pay-per-click advertising.” Comprehending PPC bidding and bid optimization is a complex issue and beyond the scope of this guide, but essentially, customers are paying for the possibility to discover new customers based on the keywords and search terms they enter into Google.

Facebook Ads

Advertising on Facebook is generally referred to as “paid social” or promoting on social media platforms. With the biggest amount of monthly active users in the world, Facebook has become a significant and potentially rewarding component of a lot of businesses’ digital marketing plans.

Although promoting on Facebook may be likened to Google Ads in that both are great for businesses to get noticed online, this is where the similarities end. In contrast to paid search, which helps companies to discover potential customers from keywords, paid social helps customers discover businesses through their interests and how they act online.

When it comes to the main distinction between Google and Facebook Ads, it can be simply put this way: Google Ads assist you to find new customers, while Facebook aids customers to find you.

Now that we have gone over a quick overview, let’s breakdown these two ad platforms further.

Google Ads Strengths

Google is the foremost search engine in the world, and it is the go-to leader in online advertising. Every day, it handles more than 3.5 billion queries, providing advertisers with an unparalleled opportunity to reach out to a vast number of individuals who are actively searching for products and services. This reach is unparalleled

Unrivaled Reach – Google garners an utterly gigantic market share in the search engine industry, and it processes more than 99,000 inquiries per second. The RankBrain algorithm continues to advance each year, and it appears obvious that the search volume will only keep escalating in the coming years. To put it simply, Google is already leaving its competitors in the dust with regards to reach, and the difference between them grows larger and larger every year.

Array of Ad Styles – Back when it was still known as Google Adwords, the platform only had text-based advertisements. Presently, even though the most popular ad types are still text-based, there’s an abundance of features and ad formats you can use to make your ad more inviting. Ad extensions, sitelinks, reviews, location targeting, shopping ads, and other features give advertisers an extraordinary degree of personalization and control. Google has also produced ad formats specifically tailored to the requirements of certain businesses, such as car makers and hotels, which go much beyond the conventional text-based ad and include vivid images and interactive map data. 

Additionally, you can run image and video-based ads in several different manners. Google offers an advanced type of ad called responsive ads where you provide several different headlines, descriptions, images and videos. Google will then use these ad assets and dynamically generate different ads across different Google platforms.

As someone who has been providing Google Ads management for over a decade, I can attest that Google is constantly testing and rolling out new ad types that have pushed it well beyond those basic text ads from the early days of Google.

Facebook Ads Strengths

Granular Ad Targeting – When it comes to reaching your desired audience, no other advertising platform can rival the specificity of Facebook. Instead of just targeting people that fit your ideal customer profile, you can take advantage of Facebook’s granularity options and hone in on those with the highest chance of converting. 

People post every minutiae of their lives on Facebook. People use it to announce their engagements, the arrival of their children,relationship status and their job promotions. Additionally, they search for and view content that fits their individual interests, opinions, and values. This is all very unique data that Facebook receives that leads to advanced granular targeting.  giving advertisers a chance to create advertisements that are specifically tailored to their target audience, a possibility that was once considered to be inconceivable.

Among the most valuable targeting options with Facebook is the ability to use what are called “lookalike audiences.” Advertisers can upload details of their customers (contact info and purchase data, for example) to Facebook, which then applies its own data and third-party data brokers to discover users that match the information that the advertiser has uploaded. This creates a “lookalike” audience of users, which expands the potential reach of your advertising  by aiming for new customers who share the same interests and consumer behavior as the existing customers.

Visually Compelling Ads – In contrast to their PPC counterparts, Facebook ads are highly visual. The best Facebook ads blend in perfectly with the videos, photographs, and other visual components in the News Feeds of users, which gives advertisers the opportunity to utilize the strong persuasive capabilities of visual advertisements while also conveying the inspiring messages that make high-quality ads so convincing.

Equally as Google continues to test new formats for its text-based PPC ads, Facebook is constantly assessing how it can deliver marketers a more exceptional marketing platform and users a more enjoyable, rewarding online experience.

In the past, Facebook required advertisements on its platform to include text that covered no more than 20% of the total advertising area, a regulation that it has since eased. Despite this important alteration to its advertising regulation, Facebook continues to be an intrinsically visual platform – a major advantage for numerous advertisers.

The Difference Between Facebook Ads and Google Ads

While both platforms share some things in common, they are quite different in a few areas. Let’s go over those areas right now. 

Audience Intent

Facebook Ads and Google Ads are very distinct when it comes to audience intent. 

Google Ads is distinguished by a high level of buying intent from people who perform searches on Google. When people search using a keyword or phrase, they are generally in an active search mode. Meaning, they are looking for information, answers, products, services or ways to solve a problem. They are searching for something specific. This is a high degree of search intent.

When they perform these searches, they will see ads right away in the search results pages. These ads show up because businesses running Google Ads target specific searches people make with the idea that showing their ads to people making specific searches may be inclined to click on the ad and perform a desired action such as buying on their website or calling the business.

For example, a local plumbing company running ads may want to target people performing searches such as ‘local plumbing company’ or ‘plumber near me’. 

In contrast, Facebook Ads lacks the ability to target people based on intent. Users are casually scrolling over the feed and are not proactively looking for a certain product or service. Nonetheless, if they have an interest in what you are selling, you can introduce them to your brand or business and even compel them to take actions such as buying on your website or contacting your business. 

In short, with Google Ads you can use keywords to target people who are performing specific searches. This is referred to as search intent. With Facebook you target audiences. There is no ability to target using keywords with Facebook.

Advertising Ecosystem

Another major difference between Facebook and Google is where people see ads. With Google, there are two main areas that people see ads; in Google Search and on the Google Display network. Google Search is where you see ads whenever you do a search on Google. The Display network is where you see ads on other websites. Additionally, you can see ads on Youtube as well. 

With Facebook, you see ads within your feed and inside the Facebook ecosystem. Some people will point to this as part of the reason why Facebook ads can outperform Google. What you see on Facebook tends to be more customized compared to what you see on Google. With Facebook, you like pages and posts, follow people and engage with content. You fill out your profile with personal information. This all leads to a more customized and personalized experience. Thus, when you see ads within this ecosystem, you may be more inclined to take interest in those ads as they are within a very customized feed of content.  

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Which One Should You Use?

It is clear that Google Ads and Facebook Ads are hugely impactful marketing tools that are suitable for any kind of company. When looking at their advantages and how they can be implemented, you should consider using them in tandem, rather than picking one over the other. Some individuals are in the habit of comparing Facebook Ads to the Google Display Network, and whilst they do have some shared traits, it is clear that Google and Facebook work better when used together.

Having both paid search and paid social in a single advertisement campaign is remarkably beneficial. However, it means that a dual plan has to be created that takes account of the benefits of each platform. Even though the same message can be employed for both Google Ads and Facebook Ads, it is important to grasp how to obtain the highest return on investment and expand the business with each one.

Google Ads & Facebook Ads Strategies

Here are a few strategies that businesses I have worked with take when using these platforms.

Google Ads Plus Facebook Remarketing 

This is a common strategy businesses take. They start of running ads in Google Search because of the high intent. If they are a service business, then they are looking to generate leads straight from people clicking on their ads. If they are an eCommerce store then they are looking to generate direct sales. Once they are able to achieve results with Google Ads, they expand to testing Facebook with a remarketing campaign only. 

Remarketing is a strategy whereby you ONLY run ads to people who have visited your website. The idea is this target audience has already shown interest in your business so they are considered to be further down the sales funnel and more likely to convert. 

Google Ads Plus Facebook Ads

Another strategy is to split up your marketing budget and run both Google Ads and Facebook ads fully. By fully I mean test running more than just Facebook remarketing. You test running ads for branding purposes and target based on the various Facebook audience options including similar audiences. 

A common strategy is to create a similar audience to people who have visited your website. The idea is that Facebook can identify additional people who are not familiar with your brand or business, but may be interested as they are “similar” to people who have already visited your website.

As you run your campaigns and measure the results, you can use the performance results data to adjust the marketing budget for each platform. If one is performing better from an ROI standpoint, you can pull budget from the other platform or increase your marketing budget if you have the ability to do so. 

Facebook Plus Google Remarketing

In this case, you would start off running ads with Facebook, then roll out a remarketing campaign with Google. Much like the first suggestion above, the idea is to re-engage people when they are in another digital ecosystem. 

We all surf online and visit different social media platforms, explore new websites and perform searches in search engines. It can be quite advantageous for businesses to get in front of their target audience wherever they are. Utilizing multiple ad platforms together is a great way to do this.

These are the two heavyweights in online advertising. But, they are not the only ones. Check out some of the other online advertising platforms for your business.