Google Ads and Facebook Ads are both pay-per-click (PPC) platforms that can elevate your digital advertising game. While some businesses consider them “either-or” propositions, many stand to profit by taking advantage of both.
Together, these PPC advertising platforms can maximize brand visibility, leads, and sales potential.
After all, there’s nothing wrong with using multiple strategies to reach your audience. (Particularly if different segments of your target audience prefer one over the other.)
But before you start leveraging Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, you need to align your strategies with each platform’s audience, functionality, and price points.
To do that, it’s important to understand each platform’s advantages and primary features.
Google Ads: The King of Paid Search
Google Ads (formerly Google AdWords) is the world’s largest PPC advertising platform. It’s so popular it’s become synonymous with “paid search,” the mechanism by which Google Ads campaigns work.
The paid search focuses on targeting keywords and search terms with (primarily) text-based ads.
Advertisers bid on specific keywords, which are the words and phrases that Google users type into its algorithm. The mechanics of PPC bidding and optimization are too complex to cover here.
Suffice it to say, bids pay for the potential to reach new customers by pairing ads with relevant keywords.
Advertisers can also select whether they want to show ads in the Google Search network or the Google Ad Network.
The Google Search network is comprised of Google’s search engine offerings. Google search ads include search engine results pages (SERPs), Shopping Ads, Video Ads, and more.
The Ad Network encompasses more visual ads like banners, spanning some 98% of the World Wide Web. These ads often accomplish marketing goals like building brand awareness.
Regardless of the specific placement or purpose, when a user clicks on a Google ad, the advertiser is charged for the click. Hence the name: pay-per-click.
Google remains the world’s most popular and widely-used search engine two decades on, boasting over 3.5 billion daily search queries. That’s 40,000 searches per second or 1.2 trillion per year – and still growing.
As Google grows more advanced, advertisers have an unprecedented opportunity to capitalize on the sheer volume of search queries Google handles. If even a fraction of those queries relates to users seeking goods and services, that’s still plenty of potential for profits.
Ad Building Experience
As a searcher, Google is incredibly user-friendly. But as an advertiser, the Google Ad Manager interface takes some getting used to. Still, once you get used to it, building and launching text-
based ad campaigns, sets, and ads become second nature.
Using your Google Ads account, you can target keywords and set parameters like:
Maximum bids per keyword
Geographic and digital locations
Not only that, but Google Ads Manager offers advanced features like search term reports, a built-in ads editor, and auction insights.
It’s important to note that advertising on Google requires accounting for the user’s search intent.
Generally, people use Google to answer specific questions or fulfill specific needs, such as finding a plumber, library, or plane ticket. If your Google advertising campaign promises to meet those needs, they’re more likely to click through to your website.
As such, businesses that can fulfill needs with marketable (and searchable) goods or services stand to benefit most from Google Ads.
However, if you’re looking to run less immediately profitable ad campaigns (think building brand awareness or long-term marketing funnels), you probably won’t enjoy the same ROI.
Plenty of Ad Formats
The original Google Ad experience was a simple text-based ad at the top of the search engine results. Now, advertisers can offer more in their ads – and enjoy more freedom of choice.
Currently, the four main ad types include:
Text-only ads that appear on Google search results pages
Call-only ads that link users right to the company’s phone number when clicked
Shopping ads that pair text, images, and pricing to entice users to click through to an immediate purchase
Remarketing ads that rely on text-only or text-and-image combinations to raise brand awareness
You can also target customers through the Google Display Network. This is a collection of over two million global websites – including Google’s own platforms, such as Gmail and YouTube – that will display ads optimized by a variety of targeting metrics.
It’s Not All About Price
Though Google Ads operates on a keyboard bidding protocol, that doesn’t necessarily mean the highest bid wins. Bidding essentially signals your intent to target a specific keyword.
However, the price you pay – and whether you appear on the front page – is determined by the quality and relevance of your ads.
That’s because Google is providing a quality experience and helping users solve problems. When ads fulfill user needs and earn high click-through rates, users enjoy a better experience, and they’re more likely to return to Google.
That’s not just money for you – it’s also good for their business, too.
That said, Google Ads aren’t free. You’ll still have to pay for your bids, and if you’re targeting particularly lucrative keywords, expect to shell out a little more.
Facebook Ads: A Prime Example of Paid Social
By contrast, Facebook Ads follow a “paid social” model, which is the practice of advertising on social networks. While paid search pairs ads to keyword inputs, paid social helps advertisers target businesses (and vice versa) based on individual interests and online behaviors.
As the largest social network site in the world, Facebook is a highly competitive (and lucrative) marketplace for advertisers.
And when we say large, that’s no joke: As of 2021, Facebook boasts over 2.7 billion monthly active users.
That's a lot of Facebook advertising power just waiting to be unlocked. Facebook has also spent over a decade carefully collecting and analyzing hundreds of data points on billions of users. It uses its massive data stores on user interests and behaviors to help advertisers target potential buyers with stunning granularity.
If you want to advertise your blue-and-white Sherpa blankets to Mongolian men with beards you can!
Thanks to this level of extreme personalization, Facebook is a central component in many paid online advertising strategies.
One important difference between Google Ads vs Facebook Ads is that Google targets users who are actively searching for solutions, but Facebook ads are a bit more passive – more like introducing users to your products for the first time.
Sure, you have more personalization; but that’s, in part, to compensate for the fact that Facebook users aren’t usually searching for buying opportunities.
Massive Online Advertising Platform
Okay, so, Facebook isn’t exactly Google. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that Facebook ads aren’t limited to Facebook’s internal platform. Also included in the Meta portfolio are Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, and the broader Audience Network.
That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your brand all launched from a single dashboard.
Ad Building Experience
Building Facebook ads requires businesses to use the Meta Ads Manager (formerly Facebook Ad Manager) to design and launch each Facebook advertising campaign.
While the Facebook Ad Manager still comes with a learning curve, this platform is arguably easier to use as a beginner.
Once you decide on a creative, you can select a purpose and location for your ad. From there, you can set your ad budget and a schedule to balance your finances against your desired reach.
Of course, you’ll also be able to narrow down your target audience and choose whether you prefer text, images, or videos in your ad (or all three!).
Do bear in mind that Facebook’s role in capturing latent interest, rather than active search intent, means that Facebook ads are best used to generate brand awareness.
That doesn’t mean users won’t convert – Facebook has a fairly solid conversion rate. But the process will likely take more time, since most users don’t log into Facebook to go shopping.
Granular Audience Targeting
We’ve mentioned Facebook’s large audience base and unparalleled targeting abilities already, but it bears repeating.
Thanks to Facebook gathering information on just about every life event, hobby, interest, and dark secret out there, this paid advertising platform has unprecedented insights into the human psyche and behaviors.
Facebook Ads leverage this freely-given information to place advertisers’ creatives in front of the right audience.
Whether you want to raise brand awareness, increase engagement on your Facebook Page, or drive conversions, Facebook’s algorithm can raise the statistical likelihood of achieving your goal.
It’s not just that Facebook offers advertisers the chance to segment and target their target audience. The platform also uses its algorithm to match ads to the users most likely to act based on internal behavioral analysis.
That’s a powerful double-whammy that places the odds of success in your favor.
More Ad Structure Options
When it comes to Google Ads vs Facebook Ads creatives, Facebook inarguably wins.
Given its reach, Google’s ads are limited in form, allowing a fairly flat mixture of text and images. There’s not a lot of creativity you can pack into such a tiny little punch.
By contrast, Facebook allows a full range of text, image, video, and GIF ads. It also offers a half-dozen ways to organize and integrate your ads, including video-only, image-based, or collection ads that combine all of the above into a single creative.
These combination options also mean that each Facebook Ad is more visually powerful compared to Google's ad formats. Not only do you have a range of ad options, but you can design them to blend in or stand out from the platform.
That’s another layer of customization and personalization that Google Ads just can’t match.
Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Comparing Side-by-Side
Now that we understand Google Ads vs Facebook Ads on their own merits, let’s make a direct comparison between the two platforms.
Keywords and search intent
Behaviors and demographics
Users are actively searching for answers, products, services, or brands
Users are generally online to socialize or game, and may not be looking to buy
Text-only, call-only, shopping ads, and remarketing ads
Text-, image-, and video-based; as well as carousel, collection, instant experience, and slideshow ads
Usage or Purpose
To reach users actively searching or ready to make a purchase
To generate brand awareness, increase exposure, and build long-term relationships
How to Choose Between Google Ads vs Facebook Ads
Many advertisers stand to benefit from targeting both Google and Facebook users in their respective realms. But if you can only focus on one – or if you’ve yet to decide just how much weight to give one over the other – here are some factors to consider.
Your Campaign Goals
Generally, Google Ads are ideal for reaching users currently looking to make a purchase. By contrast, Facebook Ads provide a great forum to cultivate new brand awareness and product interest earlier in the sales funnel. Spending with the platform that’s most likely to achieve your campaign goals is just good business sense.
Google Ads can be a bit more complex than Facebook’s comparatively simpler (and cheaper) structure.
With Google Ads, you have to balance keyword selection, competition, and price, which can be tricky if you work in an industry with high-cost keywords.
But with Facebook Ads, you can put your same budget toward generating impressions and awareness among a wider audience. (Albeit with the downside that they may not be looking to make a purchase.
Your Customer Base
In all your advertising schemes, it’s important to not lose sight of who truly matters: your customers. Knowing where they lurk and how best to reach them is the best way to maximize your clicks and conversions.
Targeting Google Ads when your user base is more likely to use Facebook isn’t just a waste of money – it’s in direct conflict with your chances of success.
Key Takeaways: Google Ads vs Facebook Ads
Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads offer PPC ads that balance affordability with reach in your online advertising strategy.
However, there are several substantial differences between paid search and paid social to consider.
While Google Ads primarily rely on keyword searches, Facebook Ads offer profit potential based on user behaviors and unprecedented targeting. (And that’s just the start!)
For many advertisers, the question of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads boils down to which suits your needs better.
Do you need to build brand awareness or target active buyers?
Does most of your audience rely on Google, Facebook, or both?
Does the Google bid structure make more sense than Facebook’s impressions and per-click payment options?
Once you answer these questions, you might be surprised to find that often the answer is: yes.
As in, instead of targeting just Google or Facebook users, your brand strategy could benefit from running both Facebook and Google ads.
While your success here depends on designing a dual advertising strategy, it’s not impossible – and the outcomes can be highly profitable.