As a digital marketing agency, SMRT Digital always get this question from our clients: “Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, which is better for my business?”.
Just like other digital marketing companies, our answer is, “It depends.”
Both are great tools, but one can have a better impact over the other for your business; depending on your industry, your target market, and your expected ROI. Today, we’re going to explain the differences and similarities between Google Ads and Facebook Ads and determine which platform can help your business grow in the long run. In our discussion, we will also include the following topics:
Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: The Undying Debate
To get a clearer picture of how each tool works, let’s take a look at their similarities and differences based on these factors:
Google Ads: Paid Search
Google Ads is the leading platform used for Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising, a type of ad campaign where the advertiser pays Google for every click of their ads. Over the years, the terms Google Ads and “paid search” have become synonymous because both are commonly used to refer to PPC, even though other search engines offer paid search advertising as well.
Paid search is anchored on the use of effective keywords to bring the right advertisement to the user. The keywords are the specific words or phrases that the users enter when searching for a product, service, or idea on the web.
Google Ads advertisers bid for keywords in the hope that their ads will show up when the user’s entry contains all or any of these keywords. In short, for the ads to show up in Google, the user must actively be looking for it.
The graph below shows Google usage versus other search engines:
Facebook Ads: Paid Social
Facebook Ads uses paid social, a term used for the advertising practice on social media. As of 2019, there were 1.69 billion Facebook users around the world. This data proves that advertising on this social media platform has the potential to generate a lucrative ROI for your business.
If Google Ads relies primarily on the relevance of keywords, Facebook Ads uses customer behavior to match your ads to consumers. For instance, if somebody always clicks the “like” button for posts, pages, or advertisements related to food, there is a chance that your ads on chocolate bars will show up. Your ad passively comes out to the users’ devices when Facebook detects that their online behavior matches the content or intention of your ad.
See how much time a person spends on Facebook in his lifetime:
Google uses two distinct targeting options: audience targeting and contextual targeting. With audience targeting, you can position your ad to reach people based on who they are, what are their interests and hobbies, what they’re always searching about, and how they have interacted with your business. Positioning your ad to target users based on their age, location, or gender is an example of audience targeting.
Meanwhile, contextual targeting is the process of selecting which ads to appear based on keywords or topics. Meaning, your ad will show up if it contains the keywords related to what the user is searching for.
Unlike Google where you need to set specific parameters to broaden or narrow down your target audience, Facebook Ads has more freedom in terms of who can see the ads. It uses demographics, interests, life events, and buying behaviors to determine when and where your ads will appear.
Ad Placement Options
Google Ads: Your ads appear on Google and Google Search Partners like Amazon, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Facebook Ads: Your ads appear on the Facebook page, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Audience Network.
Google Ads: Text Only, Text and Call, Call Only, Images, Video, Shopping Ads (Or a combination of any of these).
Facebook Ads: Image, Video, Slideshow, Carousel, Collection, and Instant Experience.
Ease of Use
Google Ads Dashboard
Its Express version is easy, while the Advanced version can be complicated for newbie advertisers.
Facebook Ads Manager
Both the simplified and comprehensive versions are user-friendly.
How About LinkedIn Ads?
Now that we covered the essentials of both Google and Facebook Ads, you might be wondering, well, how about LinkedIn Ads?
LinkedIn Ads is unique on its own because it’s an excellent platform for Business to Business (B2B) reach. Unlike Google Ads and Facebook Ads, LinkedIn Ads have limited targeting and ad placement options.
It doesn’t have the highest number of users either. Still, if your advertisement is geared toward professional audiences, especially the decision-makers for companies, LinkedIn Ads is a more reliable platform.
Google Ads vs Facebook Ads Cost
If there is one similarity between Google and Facebook Ads pricing, that is, both don’t put a specific price tag for every marketing campaign that they offer. We can provide a price benchmarking, but the actual cost will depend on various factors, including (but not limited to) your industry, your competitors, ad quality, and other variables.
Here’s how these two advertising platforms fare against each other in terms of pricing, Click-through Rate (CTR), and conversions:
Table 1: How Much Budget Do You Need?
|Avg. Click-through Rate
|Avg. Conversion Rate
|Avg. Ad Spend (Month)
A quick overview of how much Google Ads and Facebook Ads cost.
Click-through Rate (CTR): Measures how often people who see your ad end up clicking it. For Google, a good CTR is higher than 2%; for Facebook, it’s higher than 0.5%.
Conversion Rate: The average number of conversions per ad interaction. To get the Conversion Rate percentage, divide the number of conversions by total ad engagements.
As you can see, Facebook cost less than Google in almost every category. However, it doesn’t mean that because it’s cheaper, it will always work to your advantage.
Remember that in both platforms, you have a way to limit your daily ad spending through ad scheduling, targeting options, bid amount, and type of bidding (whether automatic or manual).
Therefore, knowing how to manage your average daily spending without compromising the earning potential of your ad is crucial for any campaign you choose. There should always be a sense of balance between your ad spending and your target ROI.
Here is a tabular presentation that best sums up what we have discussed so far:
Table 2: Google Ads vs Facebook Ads At a Glance
|Active-Ad viewers see the ad when they are actively looking for it.
|Passive- Ad viewers aren’t looking for specific ads; they see them because of their consumer behavior.
|Ad Placement Options
|Google and Google Search Partners
|Facebook page, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, and Audience Network
|Text Only, Text and Call, Call Only, Images, Video, Shopping Ads (Or a combination of any of these)
|Image, Video, Slideshow, Carousel, Collection, and Instant Experience
|Ease of Use
|Complicated for newbies
|User-friendly even for newbies
Google Ads and Facebook Ads can boost your business in different ways and price. If you’re not sure which one to pick, ask a marketing expert.
Weighing in who wins in Google Ads vs Facebook Ads clash is not what this blog is all about. Obviously, you need to have enough hands-on experience on both platforms to see what’s good for your business.
Figuring out which one is better comes with time and after a few hits and misses. If you want to have an overview of the processes, costs, and expected ROI for each platform, you can create a test account for both Google and Facebook Ads. This way, you will have an idea of how much your ad spending will be and how digital marketing, in general, can impact your business.
We understand that setting a budget for your ad campaign for either Google or Facebook Ads can be overwhelming. As a word of advice, don’t focus too much on how much those ads will cost you. Instead of looking for the cheapest rates, learn how each platform can maximize your ROI. If you need to talk to an expert digital marketer on which one to choose, schedule a free strategy session below:
For over a decade, SMRT Digital has helped many businesses achieve their target revenue by maximizing the earning potential of every ad campaign. We’re glad to do the same for you. Let us know how we can help.