If we made a Top 10 list of the most asked question our Ads experts answer on a daily basis in the first three positions we’ll find this: “Google Ads or Facebook Ads: which one is right for my business?“
The answer is not simple but, if we have to cut it to the bone, that would be:
Both of these networks excel when it comes to delivering results because when it comes to online advertising, Google Ads and Facebook Ads dominate the industry.”
If you want to reach customers, then Google’s search network or Facebook’s news feeds are the places to be. Consider this: Facebook currently has 2.3 billion monthly active users, making it a hotbed for users’ activity. Google Ads reaches billions of people each and every day via search, email, and other online activities.
But when it comes to allocating your advertising budget and you have to make a choice which platform should you pick: Google Ads or Facebook ads?
How to make the right choice for your business? Should you invest in both? Well, that’s what we’re here to find out.
But first, let’s look a little closer at why you should be considering either of these options to begin with.
Why Advertising Online is Essential
Since the rise of smartphones and personal computers, the way we search for answers and products online has fundamentally changed.
These days, “Googling it” is so common that it’s been added to our vernacular and daily routine.
And according to a 2017 study, the average person will spend more than five years and four months of their life browsing social media — platforms including Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.
Since 2012, we’ve increased our social media use by an hour per day (up to 144 minutes). We’re online for hours every day. And, along with increased connectivity, we’ve also become more curious, demanding, and impatient in our search for products, information, and services.
Consumers want answers fast. But it also means that consumers these days are far more empowered. It’s easier than ever to find and search for products online, which means it’s also more competitive than ever for brands like yours.
To help customers find your brand, you have to participate in their search. You have to assist them in a way that will convince them that you’re the best option.
With the shift in the way we shop and look for information, the customer journey has changed dramatically. It’s become more interconnected and complicated than ever before, and your brand needs a way to stand out in this madness.
That’s where online advertising comes into play.
Online advertising (Google and Facebook Ads) can help you:
- Build brand awareness
- Increase the spread of information
- Drive buyer behavior
- Provide reminders to curious buyers
- Use repetition to improve sales
- Provide multiple purchase pathways
And those are just the beginning.
Marketers have been studying consumer behavior for years, and in that time we’ve uncovered quite a few interesting principles that point to why ads work so well.
For example, one principle known as banner blindness suggests that the average online user avoids the sides of a web page almost entirely:
That’s why online ads are placed in the line of fire, so to speak.
Both Google and Facebook ads have adapted to banner blindness by showing in-content ads like this one:
Simply put, Google and Facebook ads are more capable than ever of helping grow your business. But only if you know how to use them properly.
So now let’s get down to brass tacks and break down each of these awesome advertising platforms.
But first… shameless plug (but oh so very useful for you!!!)
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What Is Google Ads?
Before we go on, what the heck is Google Ads?
Google is the world’s largest search engine, with more than 75% of the search engine market. Bing and those other ones are in a distant second, third, and fourth place.
According to Internet Live Stats, there are more than five billion Google searches every day. That is a lot of searches — and a lot of eyeballs. Google Ads is a fantastic place to advertise if you’re looking to tap into that enormous amount of search traffic.
With Google Ads, there are a few common ways to advertise and get your brand in front of new users:
- Search network: The search network shows ads for searches based on keywords like “plumbing service.” Search network ads show up at the top of Google search results, like this:
- Display network: The display network campaigns show your ads on websites and apps when your keywords are related to the site’s content. These ads can come in the form of videos, images, and more.
Here is what the typical display ad looks like:
- Google Shopping: Shopping ads are eCommerce-based ads that allow your brand to show up for relevant, high-intent searches based on direct product searches.
For example, when someone searches for basketball shoes, your product can show up along with pricing, reviews, and other features, like free shipping:
- Video: Video-based ads let you show ads on streaming sites like YouTube and across the Google Display Network as well.
- Google Ads Retargeting: Google allows for sophisticated retargeting so you can remarket to that lost customer and win a sale.
These are some of the most common formats on Google Ads.
There are other options, of course. But these will generally be your go-to ad formats with Google Ads.
Now that you have a handle on the basics of advertising on Google, let me explain who this platform is going to work for:
I know – super anti-climactic.
But, here’s why.
According to Google, advertisers on their platform make $2 for every $1 spent.
That means, if you implement Google Ads well, you can expect to double your investment by using Google’s ad platform. Some companies see a much, much higher ROI. And a few (who don’t take the time to learn how to use it) see much lower.
Plus, you can find (or run) these ads in a wide variety of formats, which means the potential to reach a wider audience is huge.
- If you sell products online (e-commerce), you can easily take advantage of Google shopping ads.
- If you are a locally-based company looking to get more sales, you can create location-based campaigns on the search network or even on Google Maps.
- Looking to land more clients for your law firm or SEO agency? Search network ads based on specific keywords are among the highest converting ads.
Simply put, Google Ads excels when it comes to driving traffic with the intent to convert.
For example, when someone types a keyword like “plumber near me,” in a search engine, they’re most likely going to call the first few plumbers they find, right?
Here’s the thing — you know from simply reading that keyword that they are looking to solve a problem fast. They are ready to buy.
But Google is also capable of doing more than just converting customers who want to buy now.
Google Search ads are the primary tool in the middle-to-bottom of the funnel, but the Google Display Network and YouTube ads excel at both building brand awareness and providing customer support after a purchase.
So Google Ads can be used for branding too, which expands the umbrella of Google Ads to compete directly with Facebook ads.
In sum, Google Ads is an all-around option with something to offer every brand on the web.
But what about Facebook ads?
Understanding Facebook Ads: A Quick Guide
Why do people use Facebook?
Are they looking to search for a keyword and solve a problem? Do they need a plumber?
Facebook is a social network. This means most people aren’t searching to find products or services, they are looking to catch up with friends, chat about their hobbies in their favorite groups, and share pictures of their latest trip.
Though there has been an increase in local search on Facebook, the intent to purchase isn’t as high as Google Ads.
But that doesn’t mean it’s a waste of ad spend, either.
Facebook has more than two and a half billion monthly active users. You can find almost any target or niche market on the platform.
With such a large and diverse user base, you have a great shot at finding success.
Facebook ads often come in the form of news feed style ads that integrate directly into your Facebook feed and look like a normal post.
These types of posts are usually aimed at driving clicks.
You can currently advertise on mobile, desktop, Instagram, and even through Facebook Messenger.
Facebook also allows you to advertise in the right sidebar, mobile newsfeed, and even using video ads.
Carousel ads allow you to show a variety of product types in one ad.
On Facebook, you can cater to a variety of different goals for your advertising:
- Want to drive brand awareness and likes on your business page? You can easily do that.
- Need to get more leads? Facebook has powerful lead generation ads.
- Want more traffic to your blog posts or engagement on your site? Check.
- Need to drive more sales and store visits? Check.
- Want to increase views on a video? Check.
- Want to target people on Instagram ads? You can do that through the Facebook ads manager as well.
The options are just as diverse, if not more diverse than what Google Ads has to offer.
But remember: the intent is slightly different on Facebook.
Facebook also excels when it comes to targeting audiences for your advertisements.
They have “Custom Audiences” that allow you to target users by diverse demographics including job title, seniority, income level, and even things like hobbies or favorite TV shows.
You can get extremely specific with custom targeting, including creating “lookalike audiences” and even retargeting people who have visited your website.
Now, let me address the burning question that you still have lingering in the back of your mind:
Is Facebook advertising right for my business?
Here’s the answer: Yes it is, probably. Here’s why:
- Just about everyone you know is on Facebook. Meaning B2B and B2C companies and nearly all their employees are using the social media network.
- Every brand from your local diner to a major tech company is going to be on Facebook.
- On top of that, the minimum ad spend is $1 per day, and they have an incredibly low cost per click.
In fact, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, CPC averages around $0.75 per click:
That means you could spend as little as $50 a month and still get thousands upon thousands of impressions for your business.
Additionally, you can complement your Facebook campaigns with other social media strategies, such as using Messenger chatbots to utilize an email-marketing style approach with tools like MobileMonkey.
For example, you can set up targeted chat blasts, create a drip campaign, or send out non-promotional messages to highly segmented and opted-in audiences. These methods are already seeing a tremendous amount of success, and you can even use them with Facebook ads.
Here’s an example:
If you can go that extra mile and get to grips with chatbots there’s huge potential to build a messenger subscriber list before the larger brands catch up. To prove that Facebook Messenger Ads and Chatbots really work together we ran one of our famous $1,000 experiments, check it out!
So… should you invest money in Facebook ads to take advantage of lower costs and excellent demographic targeting?
Or should you funnel your cash into Google Ads to take advantage of strong search intent that leads to higher conversions?
Or… should you do both?
Google Ads or Facebook Ads: Which Is Better for You?
So. Google Ads vs Facebook Ads. Two very different advertising platforms, with different search intents and different benefits.
Here’s the thing — Google Ads and Facebook ads are both exceptional places to advertise your business. They’re relatively cheap (depending on your industry) and each has billions of active users with diverse targeting options.
So what’s the deal? Is one better than the other? Obviously, the answer is highly dependent on your business objectives and budget.
You need to ask yourself:
What is your end goal? What are you looking to get out of this?
- If your answer is sales, leads, consultations, or anything of that nature — both platforms will be perfect for that.
- If your answer is brand awareness or social following, Facebook is the place to be.
- If you want to sell products directly, Google Ads is probably the place to be (though both platforms can do the trick).
Keep on reading and discover a few ways to maximize your results on both platforms today.
How To Use Google Ads
The search network on Google Ads is the most effective place to advertise if you are looking to see results quickly.
With display ads, you need great images or video-based content, whereas the search network only requires written ads.
On top of that, the average click-through rate for display ads across all formats & placements in the USA is only 0.05% as of 2019.
So, the search network is the best place to start.
To get started on the search network, you need to locate keywords for your business. Learn about the Google keyword tool, and then head over to the keyword planner to get started.
Start by entering a keyword, phrase, or URL that’s related to your business.
This will allow Google Ads to instantly give you some ideas of keywords to target without you having to come up with them yourself.
Then, hit “Get Started” to pull up tons of suggestions:
Let me break down some of the data to give you a better idea of what you’ll be analyzing:
- The competition metric is simply a basic look at how many advertisers are trying to compete for this keyword. The higher the competition, the more businesses are bidding on it.
- The bid ranges are how much typical advertisers are paying for each click on the highest and lowest ends.
With these numbers, you can begin to get an idea of how much your campaigns will cost and which keywords are going to be right for your business.
How To Advertise On Facebook
As you read before, Facebook advertising has some seriously powerful targeting options.
Except, that’s also kind of the problem. There are TONS of options for different campaigns.
So here are a few easy places to start.
Facebook Ads Tip #1. Create a lookalike audience based on previous sales or clients.
One of the best ways to get started on Facebook is to use a lookalike audience.
This is Facebook’s way of replicating your current customers to your business to give you the best bang for your buck.
It can also take existing emails from your customers and match those emails to Facebook profiles.
Once it does that, Facebook looks for other users with similar attributes to target.
Meaning you get a new batch of people who are exactly like your existing customers.
Plus, it only takes a minute to set up, and you can integrate it with MailChimp.
Head to Facebook ads manager and create a Business Manager Account if you don’t have one set up already. Next, locate the Audiences section:
From here, click Create Audience in the left sidebar, then select “Lookalike” from the drop-down menu:
Then select the source of your lookalike audience, which can be a custom audience, from one of your current Facebook pages, or via Facebook’s pixel:
You can also select customers in a specific location
Be sure to select 1% as your audience size:
1% audience sizes will generate a much lower cost as it is more specific and targeted.
Now hit “Create Audience,” and you’re ready to create fantastic images to get the ball rolling.
Facebook Ads Tip #2. Use images to really make an impact on conversions.
Images are responsible for anywhere between 75-90% of an ad’s performance on Facebook.
When done correctly, you literally don’t even need words
Try using a platform like Canva to create high-quality images for Facebook Ads.
Canva has a “Facebook Ad” template that you can use to create ads in the right size for Facebook. They even have image templates to browse through and quickly spin up a few options to start with.
If you need some inspiration, head to our selection of Facebook Ads Examples to see what images and creative have worked for advertisers on Facebook!
3 Strategies to Use Facebook and Google Ads Together
Now that you know how both Facebook and Google Ads work, let’s explore some ideas for using them together.
1. Build Your Brand With Facebook, Close with Google
As we’ve seen so far, Facebook ads are a phenomenal way to build brand awareness and put your product in front of new audiences.
A campaign that’s targeted correctly will help you warm up a cold audience, and eventually, those users are going to start searching for your brand on Google.
In fact, studies have shown that Facebook Ads lead to a significant uptick in branded Google searches almost immediately after a user sees your ad.
And there’s a pretty easy answer as to why this occurs:
Most of the users on Facebook who see your ads, if targeted correctly, are already going to have some pre-existing interest in your offer. They just don’t know about your brand.
So when they see your Facebook ad and discover what your brand is about, they want to learn more and naturally switch to Google to conduct a little research.
This is great for a few reasons. First, instead of clicking your Facebook ad and ticking off some of your ad budget, they conduct an organic search instead. That means your ad continues to work on an ongoing basis.
The key here is to use your brand name as a keyword in your Google Ads, and use similar messaging across both channels. That way when someone sees your second Google ad after the Facebook ad, they know where to click.
While it may seem counterintuitive to run ads for your own brand name, it’s actually a great practice. You can almost guarantee your competition marketing with your brand name as a keyword, so if you want to stay competitive you’ll need to advertise under your brand’s keyword.
So use this strategy to take cold audiences and warm them up to your services. Then, close the deal on Google when they decide to search for your brand.
It’s the perfect one-two punch that shows how Google and Facebook are the perfect pairs.
2. Target Your Facebook Audience With Google Ads Data
If you’re using Facebook Ads, you’ve probably set up Pixels to help you track user behavior and collect more data.
But that’s not the only way to broaden your horizons when it comes to user data.
There are quite a few useful Google Ads data points that you can bring over to improve targeting on your Facebook ads:
- Household income
- Time of engagement
- Retargeting audiences
Each of the above points (and many more) can help you fine-tune your ads and put your brand on a potential customer’s radar.
With better targeting, you’ll get more out of your ad budget in the long run.
3. Find Similar Audiences on Facebook to Boost Both Platforms
And if you’re curious, you can indeed implement the reverse idea and use Facebook data to help hone in on your Google audience.
Here’s what to look for in the opposite direction then.
One of Facebook’s greatest strengths is their lookalike audience feature we discussed earlier.
If you decide to advertise on Facebook, it’s highly recommended that you dig deeper into lookalike ads and use them as much as you can to help your brand.
But we can cover some of the basics here.
The best practice in this instance is to take the data from your ideal customers and use that as a base for your lookalike audience.
That way you find similar customers on Facebook that will spend more money on your business.
But the real hack here that will help you really expand the ability of all your ads is to use data interchangeably between Google and Facebook.
Or in other words, take your Facebook lookalike and use the same inputs on Google to create an audience that overlaps and works in tandem with your Facebook lookalike audience.
This will help your retargeting ads and boost your brand awareness much more than simply relying on data from a single platform.
You’ll still need to be careful to avoid heavily-overlapped audiences, but this can still be a great cross-platform hack.
Use data from both platforms interchangeably where you can, but keep in mind that the intent on each platform is different. You’ll still need to test in order to find what works best.
Andrew Good says
Near the end you talk about “take your Facebook lookalike and use it on Google.”
Are you able to provide some more insight to how this process works and the setup steps?
Yes, I’d love to know that too.
I’ve been using both Facebook and Google Ads for years now. Never heard that you can use Facebook Lookalike audiences on Google.
Brad Smith says
Great question, Andrew! Wording was a little unclear there. I meant more using the data from your Facebook lookalike audience to inform your audience on Google – not that you can import it from Facebook to Google and vice versa. Made a small edit to clarify.
Hey Brad! Using Facebook lookalike audiences on Google? I just set up my property website https://myluxhome.sg which certain pages includes FB pixel. Are you able to create a new article to walk us through how we can use Google Ads to draw traffic to our landing pages and retarget on Facebook (Lookalike Audiences)? This sounds powerful. Would love to follow up!
David Gere says
Thanks for this great article.
We run Facebook ads occasionally, but most of them are only “boosted posts”. We have our main campaigns in Google Ads.
But as you mentioned above, maybe it’s time to mix Facebook and Google Ads.
Brad Smith says
Thanks, David! Definitely. Mix it up and let us know how it goes!
Felipe Vergara says
Great article!! One question, how can we use Facebook´Lookalike Audiences on Google? That would be a game changer I havent heard of!
Felipe Vergara says
Great article!! One question, how can we take our Facebook Lookalike Audiences and use them on Goolge?? That is AMAZING and I hadn´t heard about that before.
Brad Smith says
Thanks, Felipe! Right now, you have to use a custom audience on both platforms and separately create a Facebook lookalike and a Google lookalike. By using the same inputs, you’ll be able to use the data interchangeably and let them inform each other. Hope that helps!
Amazing post!! facebook ads is good in team of quick outcome in maketering but at the end of the day if you have to cash to pay for the facebook ads then the hustle will be waste but unlike google ads is great go for a keyword research, write a cool artisle for your produce, get backlinks and referring links and with the help of YouTube then wait for google to rank you tho, facebook ads is cool
Carl Ringoet says
Great and clear article. Thank you.
Same question as the others, how do you use Google Ads data on Facebook and Facebook Lookalike Audiences on Google Ads? How can you set this up? By creating new audiences in GA360/Google Ads based upon Facebook traffic coming from specific campaigns/ad sets and vice versa? Can you elaborate on this?
Flavia Caroppo says
check Brad’s reply I guess he answered to the question.
Anyway we edited the post and that sentence now flows like this:
Kudos for the useful article, I am really impressed by your blog. I am also following your blog, awesome
Great explanation on Facebook ads and google ads. As we are a newly started real estate firm, we are currently planning for digital marketing to promote our business. Here I got an awesome understanding of Google and Facebook ads. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the amazing information. Was a great reading. and I appreciate the tips!!
I think it’s more precise to compare the Google Display Network vs FB ads, rather than talking about Google ads vs FB ads because the nature of users using their platform is very different.
Google ads are very rich about intent. While Facebook ads are rich in their social content and reach (since people use Facebook for hours and hours every day).
One question tho, in terms of targeting specificity, which one do you think is the winner between GDN vs FB ads?
wow this was such a wonderful article! Thank you for the the detailed explanation 🙂
Emma William says
Thanks for explain…such valuable content…
Charl du Plessis says
Thank you for sharing so much insight! Very uselful
Scott Ginsberg says
Regardless of the channel you use, remember to learn from everything.
When you’re new to the ecommerce game, your ads might pull in some clicks that don’t represent your ideal customer. But their interest in your ad and your product will often signal enough of a similarity to make them worth learning from. If you leave no lead unlearned, you can use that traffic to supplement your data, and arrive at your goal more quickly.
We just blogged about this issue today, if you’re interested in learning more: https://bit.ly/2CwcyIX
Good luck and happy selling 😉
Santhosh M M says
Do you have any idea, how long we shall update our artworks in a campaign?
I need to spend some time learning much more or understanding more. Thanks for excellent information
Any guides or best tips for having new website?
Sergio Rodriguez says
Wow, this is an excellent comparison. I actually learned more from this article than I have in some of the paid training courses that I’ve taken. Thanks for putting together such a detailed comparison of the two platforms.
Alex Huynh says
Great article!! One question, how can we use Facebook´Lookalike Audiences on Google? That would be a game changer I havent heard of!