Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads - Which is better for your business?


Mobile phone screen showing Google Ads and Facebook Ads apps.

Online advertising is one of the best ways to increase your brand awareness and get the word out about your products and services.


The trouble is, knowing which ad platform is best for your business, product, and audience.


Two giants of online advertising are Facebook Ads and Google Ads. While there are many other platforms out there, these two have become synonymous with the two main channels of online advertising – paid social and paid search.


Below we’ve highlighted some of the key differences between Facebook and Google Ads to help you identify which platform you should be putting your time and money into.


What's the difference between Facebook Ads & Google Ads?


Facebook Ads


As a ‘paid social’ platform, Facebook shows your ads to your target audience while they are browsing social media.


The goal of a Facebook Ad is to capture your audience’s attention with text, image, or video-based ads and pull them away from their mindless scrolling or video watching and get them interested in your brand or product.


Facebook Ads can be displayed in a load of different formats and placements, such as:

  • Facebook News Feed

  • Facebook Marketplace

  • Facebook suggested videos (Video)

  • Facebook right column

  • Messenger inbox

  • Facebook stories

And various placements on Instagram too!


Take a look at all the different placements in Ads Manager, here.


With a range of placements, you can capture your audience’s attention while they’re consuming video content, engaging with their friend’s posts in the news feed, and while they are messaging friends and family on Facebook Messenger.


Facebook’s targeting works by allowing you to create an audience based on a wide range of demographics, some based on people’s account information that they have provided, and some based on people’s activity across Facebook.



For example, if you’re a local florist based in Winchester, and you’re looking to do a campaign in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, you could target the following audience demographics:


Gender: All genders

Ages: 18 – 65+

Relationship Status: Married, Engaged, In a relationship, Civil Partnership, Domestic partnership

Locations: Winchester (within a 20km radius)


This gives you an estimated audience of 183,600 - 216,000 adults that are in romantic relationships, and are likely to buy their partner flowers and other gifts for Valentine’s Day.


Facebook Ads audience for a florist

That’s the key difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Facebook is a much more reactive form of advertising that involves targeting demographics that form a picture of who your target audience is, and engaging with them at the start of their buying journey.


Facebook Ads works on a daily budget basis where you can set a limit on how much you want to spend on each ad of your campaign.


For example, if you have a campaign with three different ads running and you set a £5 daily limit, you’ll be spending around £15 per day, per ad.


You can learn more about Facebook Ads budgets on the Meta Business Help Centre, here.


Google Ads


As a ‘paid search’ platform, and the biggest PPC platform out there, Google Ads works a little differently from Facebook Ads.


To start with, while Facebook Ads targets audience demographics and interests, Google’s main focus for targeting is on the keywords and phrases that your audience will use to find your products using Google.


Google search results page with a Search ad at the top.

Just like Facebook, Google gives you a range of ad types, placements and different targeting options to choose from.


The five main campaign types that Google Ads offer is:


Search – Text-based ads displayed on Google search result pages

Display – Image-based ads on Google Display Network sites or Gmail

Video – Video-based ads on YouTube

Shopping – Product listings on Google search result pages

App – Ads for app installs across various channels


What’s great about Google’s focus on keywords and phrases, is you can target your ideal customer at a stage where they are actively looking for information on your products or are actively looking to buy.


What this means, is you’re not having to generate initial interest in your products, because they’re already searching Google for what you offer or products similar to it.


Using the Florist example again, you can get your ads in front of customers as they’re looking to buy by targeting relevant product and location keywords, such as:

  • Florists in Winchester

  • Florists near Winchester

  • Flower delivery Winchester

  • Rose delivery Winchester

  • Flower delivery

  • Florists near me


Google campaigns work on a CPC (Cost Per Click) basis which means for each click on your ad, you’ll be charged a certain amount - the average cost per click is between £0.44 and £1.90.


You can also set a maximum daily budget, so you don’t spend over a certain amount each day and better control your campaign costs.


You can learn more about Google Ads budgeting on their Help Centre, here.


So which is better?


The argument on whether Facebook Ads is better than Google Ads or vice-versa just boils down to who you’re trying to reach, what your offering is, and how big your budget is.


Target Audience


If you’re a B2C business, like a florist, you could use Facebook Ads to generate brand awareness and drop reminders about holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to your target audience.


You could then use Google Ads to capture sales from those that are actively searching for flowers with the intent to buy right now. Using both platforms in this way is a great combination to engage with your audience at different stages of the buyer’s journey.


Target audience research for online advertising

On the other hand, if you run a B2B focused software company, you might want to target high-level decision-makers in large enterprises across the UK.


But, because focuses on personal demographics rather than professional, you might struggle to accurately target your audience with Facebook’s demographics.


In that case, running Google Search Ads that target keywords related to your product would be far more effective.


In short, if you’re struggling to decide between Facebook or Google for your ads, think about where you’re customers are going to be active the most, where it’s easiest to reach them, and where they’re more likely to be receptive to your ads.


Offerings


If your main goal is to generate leads and sales from your ads, both platforms can work well, but depending on your product one platform may work better than the other.


Going back to the B2B software example, putting the potential struggles with targeting the right people aside, is Facebook going to be the best place to market your software product?


If your ideal customer is a high-level decision-maker that rarely uses Facebook at work, are you going to get enough traction?


Sure, they could see your ads while they’re browsing Facebook in the evenings or on weekends, but are they going to be in a work frame of mind at those times?


If not, you could be wasting a good amount of your ad budget on failed interactions.


On Google, however, you can position your ads to show up right as they’re searching for a product like yours with Search ads, you create content that shows up in other places, like Display or Video ads that are based on their previous search activity.


Finding the right time and place to engage with your audience and display your ads is vital for getting a good click-through rate, higher conversions, and an ROI that makes it all worthwhile.


Search engine advertising budget and ROI

Budget


While you can control how much you spend on your campaign on both platforms, using your limited budget wisely is vital for getting a good return on your ad spend.


This point on budget ties into both points about choosing the right platform for your audience and your product, as making a mistake on either one could cost you.


However, another big point about budget, is how efficiently you can reach your audience and get them to act.


A message about marketing budgets pinned to a cork board.

Depending on your target keywords, you could spend considerably more per click on Google than on Facebook, and with issues such as click fraud from competitors or search bots, you could end up spending a lot of money on clicks that lead absolutely nowhere.


With Facebook, while you can be surer that your ads are only being served to your target audience, your audience might be in the earlier stages of the buyer’s journey than your audiences on Google ads.


Doing some trial and error on both platforms with different target audiences, different ad types and placements, and tweaking your budget, you can hopefully find the most efficient way to run your ads, and keep your conversion rate high while keeping your cost per acquisition down.


To wrap up...


Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads can be powerful tools for reaching your target audience and increasing brand awareness, leads, and sales.


To find which platform will work best for you, you need to think about your target audience’s behaviours and movements to determine whether one platform is better than the other for your business.


Or take some time to do trial and error across both platforms to see which platform generates the most success.

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