Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: The Differences and Benefits of Each
Updated: Mar 21, 2019
Both Facebook and Google will allow you to advertise on their respective platforms—for a price. But which is better? Are they fundamentally the same, or do they work best with different types of products? In this blog article, we’ll explore this conundrum. Along the way, we’ll clear up the differences between Google Ads and Facebook’s advertising platform, highlighting their key differences and the strengths of each.
By the end of this post, you’ll have a much firmer understanding of when to use each.
The Overall Benefits of Online Advertising
As you might expect, online advertising offers several key benefits that you can’t get from search engine optimization, content marketing or other free marketing routes. If you have the budget, advertising your product or service online can provide you with a quick, substantial boost in sales—a shot in the arm you can then leverage into even more sales by funneling profits back into your marketing efforts.
PPC—or pay-per-click—is the type of advertising used by most businesses in today's world. In this model, businesses vie for placement alongside search results. Generally, the more you’re willing to pay per click, the higher on the page you’ll be placed. This simple, innovative system was pioneered by Google in the early 2000s.
Typically, advertisers pay a fixed amount of money per click. But virtually all advertising platforms allow you to set a maximum daily budget. On some platforms, you can test the waters with as little as $1 per day. When you cap your daily budget in this way, your price per click may fluctuate based on several factors, including time of day, search volume and competition.
Alternatively, you can pay for a certain number of impressions instead. ‘Impression’ just means that your ad was displayed on a user's news feed. It doesn’t guarantee a click, though you will still be able to see how many potential customers clicked on the ad in the ad platform’s back-end. The standard arrangement is to pay a fixed fee for every 1,000 impressions. Most Google Display Network ads, for instance, use the per 1,000 impressions model.
The primary benefits of paying per 1,000 impressions are twofold:
• It’s often cheaper than traditional advertising
• It’s great for building brand awareness.
On the flip side, of course, you will find some downsides. The first is that pay-per-click ads are more geared toward getting a sale. Your pay-per-click ad will be displayed more prominently, and more often. This leads into the second downside, which is opportunity cost. While paying per impression can expose your brand to many people, how much of an impression are you really making? What is the opportunity cost of not simply paying per click? After all, when someone clicks, this is an indication that they may be in the mood to make a purchase and are interested in your product.
Google Ads began life as Google AdWords in 2000. The platform connects advertisers and website owners in a manner that is beneficial to both. Advertisers gain access to customers that are already in the buying process, which is one major benefit of advertising through the Google Ads search network. In the beginning, Google AdWords simply allowed business owners to create clickable ads, but the program has grown significantly in functionality over the years.
The platform provides business with a solid alternative to traditional advertising that is measurable, effective, and targeted.
You can use Google Ads to:
• Increase brand awareness
• Drive customers directly to your product pages
• Get sales well before SEO kicks in
• Retarget customers
• Easily outrank your competitor’s ads
• Conduct split tests to see which ad performs best
There’s a reason Google Ads remains the premiere advertising platform. But as we’ll see, Facebook is a robust solution that pulls a few tricks that Google cannot.
As a social network—even a very popular one—Facebook faced a dilemma: how to monetize what was, essentially, mass-distributed freeware. Hundreds of millions of consumers were happily using the platform every day, but understandably, stakeholders wanted something in return.
Their solution to this was introducing the Facebook Ads platform. The algorithms that power Facebook allow the company to collect a vast array of data on its users. Indeed, every time you click the “Like” button on the site, you’re giving Facebook information about your potential buying intent as a consumer.
As a business owner and advertiser, you can tap into this massive database to market your products to potential customers. Facebook ads allow you to:
• Build brand awareness
• Engage your existing audience on a regular basis
• Drive sales
• Educate new customers about your products and services
• Drive potential customers to your email list sign up pages
Now let’s take a deeper look at how Google Ads differs from Facebook’s offering.
Build Your Brand with Facebook Ads
For brand building, Facebook is the clear winner. After all, Facebook’s advertising platform is built upon a social network. Google, meanwhile, relies on its search engine presence and network of bloggers and other popular sites. Because Facebook is more social, you can use the social knock-on effect to your advantage to build buzz.
Let’s look at what Facebook offers in more detail.
• Build brand awareness while building your presence on the platform itself. As Facebook sought to position itself as an advertising platform, it began to steadily reduce the organic reach of its users. Businesses that relied on their ability to engage with their fans on Facebook suddenly found that their posts didn’t reach all their fans. This upset many, but savvy business owners saw it as an opportunity to pull ahead of their competition with direct advertising campaigns.
Advertising on Facebook allows you to reach cold fans so you can get them to reengage. This can drive your organic reach back up some. But there’s another benefit: the more engaged your fans, the more word-of-mouth advertising you’ll benefit from. Remember: Facebook’s advertising platform works upon a social network.
What’s more, sponsored posts give you access to incredibly robust targeting tools. This is the fast and easy way to gain new likes and followers. For instance, you can use your existing email list to create what Facebook calls a lookalike list. This list will target Facebook users who match the demographic and other factors of people on your email list.
Naturally, you can also pay per for impression ads, too. These ads, which tend to be highly visible on Facebook, work well for brand building.
Additionally, Facebook can be cheaper than Google Ads. As of 2016, the average cost per thousand impressions for all objectives was $7.34. Average cost per click for all objectives was .27 cents.
• Engage your existing audience on a regular basis. Since your target audience is already spending time on Facebook, advertising on a platform where they spend their time can work well. However, the fact that they’re on Facebook, instead of, say, searching for a product on Google indicates that they may not be in buying mode. Consequently, when advertising on Facebook, it’s a good idea to focus on the relationship you have with your fans and strengthening that connection.
With Facebook ads, you can:
• Maintain their interest
• Educate them about specials, new products, etc.
• Warm them to a sales pitch
• Catch them when they are in buying mode
This strategy is fundamentally different from what you would do on Google, but it can be phenomenally powerful. Remember, Facebook is a social network, so be social. With Facebook ads, you can keep your brand top-of-mind and relevant.
• Drive sales with pay-per-click ads. Like with Google, you can use Facebook to display pay-per-click ads. Facebook’s advanced targeting allows you to reach potential customers at all stages of your marketing funnel.
• Educate new customers about your products and services. Even after converting the customer, Facebook remains a powerful tool. You can use Facebook ads to retouch current customers, informing them about a new product or service, or alerting them to a sale. The makers of the budgeting app You Need A Budget do this well. They create video content that highlights new features and then target those videos to current customers. Since they monetize through a yearly subscription, it’s critical for them to keep current users interested in their product.
• Drive potential customers to your email list sign-up pages. Instead of going for the direct sale all the time, you can use Facebook Ads to drive traffic to your website. Specifically, drive potential fans to content-rich pages that contain calls to action, prompting the visitor to sign up to your list.
This way, you’re increasing your ability to advertise directly to fans via email, reducing your reliance on your advertising budget. Needless to say, having a vibrant, responsive email list is an incredible asset.
Drive Sales with Google Ads
While Facebook shines when it comes to brand-building, Google is the king of conversions. Let’s take a look.
• Increase brand awareness. As with Facebook, you can use Google to build brand awareness. The key difference is that instead of engaging them socially, you’re reaching them as they’re searching for a solution. Naturally, this offers its own distinct advantages. If your ad catches the eye of someone who is looking to make a purchase, they may remember you when it comes time to pull the trigger, or they may go directly to your site and buy from you.
You can certainly use Google ads to build a brand following over time, but Facebook is probably better suited to gain brand recognition and awareness.
• Drive customers directly to your product pages. This is where Google Ads really shine. Because of their integration with the Google search engine, you can reach customers as they’re in the buying process. With PPC ads, you bring someone with buying intent directly to your sales page. This can be much more efficient than engaging with people while they’re browsing social media networks.
• Get sales well before SEO kicks in. With Google Ads, you can drive sales and brand awareness very quickly, while you're in the process building your SEO. Why wait around to get ranked by Google if you don’t have to? If you're looking for quick results, Google Ads are the way to go.
• Re-target customers who have exited your funnel. Remarketing is an advanced technique, but once you get the hang of it, you can use it to recapture the interest of people who visited your site, expressed interest and then left. This is a technique that you can also use on Facebook, but it’s much more powerful on Google’s platform. Remember, Google allows you engage with potential customers while they’re in buying mode, and have a significantly higher conversion rate.
• Easily outrank your competitor’s ads. Because of the bidding process, you can outbid your competitors and reach more customers than they do. What’s more, you don’t have to worry about keeping tabs on groups, fan pages or anything else the way you would on social media networks. If you don’t care for the social aspect, Google Ads is your best bet for quick, powerful results.
• Conduct exhaustive split tests to see which ad performs best. All advertising platforms allow you do split tests, but this functionality is especially important with Google Ads. Because Google places you right in front of customers with buying intent, you’ll need to optimize your ads as much as possible. With split testing, you can do just that. Google Ads provides tools to help experts discover which ad copy performs best.
So there you have it. Both platforms can be a stellar investment, but they’re very different animals. Knowing your marketing goals before undertaking these projects will help you save time and money. For a more aggressive approach, consider Google Ads. If your product would benefit from having an active community of like-minded fans around it, consider Facebook. The choice of which platform to undertake first will depend on your marketing goals. We would recommend using Facebook Ads to gain brand awareness, and Google Ads for those looking for quick, powerful results.
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