Facebook Ads vs Google Ads

By Mervyn Kinuthia on March 24, 2018

For the longest time marketers had a tough time choosing between Facebook and Google as their primary marketing platform. The understanding that one platform was better for a brand’s marketing was further exacerbated by media outlets who played the rivalry between the two companies.

While it’s true that some businesses can better reach their target demographics using one or the other, the rivalry between the two advertising giants has been greatly overplayed. In fact, instead of an adversarial relationship, marketers should see the role that these two companies play as being complementary.

Facebook Ads vs Google Ads

There are many businesses that have successfully managed to leverage the strengths of Facebook, and Google to generate leads, increase sales, and increase visibility.

Having said that, there certainly are differences that set these two marketing platforms apart and I’ll cover that in this article and how you can take advantage of the unique features to propel your business’ success.

Paid Search on Google AdWords

For the longest time and for some time to come Google has been the largest online paid marketing advertising platform. In fact, Google AdWords is such a force to reckon with that when you refer to paid search, most people will automatically assume you’re referring to Google. This is despite the continued existence of other paid search platforms such as Bing.

The main focus of paid search is targeted keywords that are used in the formulation of text-based ads. When advertising on Google you bid on keywords which, when searched by users will trigger your text-based ads to appear. Whenever a user clicks on your ad you pay Google some money. That’s why it’s referred to pay-per-click (PPC).

Paid Social on Facebook

Paid social simply refers to advertising on social networks. One of the reasons why any marketer would want to consider advertising on Facebook and not on any other social network, is because it has the largest number of monthly active users in comparison to other social media networks. Depending on a business’ demographic, businesses have been known to focus their entire ad budget on social networks as that’s where their brand has the broadest reach.

Social media advertising

The main difference between Google and Facebook is the fact that Google uses keywords to help users discover your business while Facebook helps users find your business based on their behavior online as well as interests they have indicated on their Facebook profiles.

An easy way of understanding the dichotomy is that Google will help you find new customers for your business while Facebook will cause users to find you.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s delve into the strengths of each platform and how you can exploit those strengths to your brand’s advantage.

Google Adwords: Strengths and Advantages

Every day, Google receives more than 3.5 billion search queries. In turn, it gives marketers access to these search query insights which is critical to understanding how to formulate and launch ad campaigns. Google advertising can be described as a combination of two networks: Display network and the search network.

The search network refers to ads that are displayed when users type in a search query into Google. Unlike paid search, ads featured on the display network aren’t focused on text-ads. Instead they use visual aids such as banners to get the message across. Display network ads can be found on sites that have partnered with Google. If say you want to raise brand awareness, then the display network is worth a shot.

Huge Audience

Another advantage of using Google is that you’re able to take advantage of their access to their huge audience that encompasses all types of demographics.

How huge is Google’s audience? Every second Google receives over 40,000 queries. In a year that translates to over a trillion searches. As Google ramps up its use of its proprietary artificial intelligence program RankBrain the number of queries is likely to grow due to the system’s effectiveness.

In other words, there’s no other search engine out there that has Google’s potential.

Fair Play

One of the misconceptions out there about the Google AdWords platform is that since it uses an auctioning system (advertisers bid on keywords) that the brand with the largest advertising budget will always carry the day making it difficult for smaller brands to compete with the big ones.

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Other than the bid, there are other factors that determine if your ad will show or not and what position it will take. One of these factors is the quality of your ads. Google provides guidelines on what makes for a good ad and they expect for these guidelines to be followed if you want your ad to be featured.

The position of your ad is also determined by how many clicks it’s receiving meaning that if you get less or no clicks compared to other competing ads, your ad will get dropped from its premium position on the search page and that position given to one of your competitors instead.

To understand how PPC on Google AdWords work you can check out these resources.

Different Types of Ad Formats

Google launched their ad platforms in 2000 and believe it or not there were only 350 advertisers on their platform. During this nascent stage, the ads were very basic. While ads have changed a great deal, there are some elements of those first ads that can still be seen in today’s ads such as search ads are still text-based.

There are however a couple of new features (ad extensions) that have been introduced to Google ads that are meant to make them more enticing to click for users.

These ad extensions include:

  • Social proofing e.g user reviews
  • Sitelinks
  • Location targeting etc

Google has gone a step further and created bespoke formats for various industries such as hotels and vehicle manufacturers. These new ads go beyond your average text-based ad and include interactive map data and high-resolution images.

Google continues to come up with different types of ad formats to ensure that how you present your brand to its users remains appealing and engaging.

Facebook Ads Strengths and Advantages

Whereas Google Adwords has been with us for quite a while, Facebook ads relatively look like the new kid on the block. Just like Google it’s taken Facebook a couple of years and several processes to refine and improve its advertising platform. And it’s worked.

Facebook Stengths

Today, many social networks have used Facebook’s ad platform as an inspiration to how they build their own advertising solutions.

There are many advantages you stand to enjoy by using Facebook to amplify your brand and we cover all of them here.

Unmatched Audience Targeting

Just like Google, Facebook too has access to a huge audience that spans multiple demographics. Facebook has over 1.5 billion monthly active users which when you think of it is more than 20% of the world’s population.

Unlike Google however, Facebook offers advertisers the option to target their audience with specificity that has not been known before.

This is made possible by the fact that most people share every detail of their life on social media. In addition, users will search for content that they’re interested in on Facebook. The social networking giant collects all this information and provides it to advertisers who are then able to be as granular as possible when targeting their demographics.

Facebook has an advertising feature in its ad platform known as “Lookalike audiences”. What are they?

It’s a bit hard to explain without getting technical so I’ll use an example.

Imagine you’ve been collecting user data on your site. However, you feel that you want to enlarge that database of information with audiences that are similar to the ones you already have. That is, they share the same interest, have the same age, or perhaps all of them run a particular kind of business. You do this so that you can reach out to as many people as possible.

Using Facebook’s Lookalike feature, you can upload your already existing database onto Facebook and it will search for audiences that are similar to yours based on data provided by third-party data brokers. With this new database, you’re able to target a demographic with unmatched granularity.

Broad Use of Visuals

Unlike the text ads found on Google’s advertising platform, Facebook ads are visual in nature which makes them even the more enticing. Facebook ads are designed to blend into the user’s feed without causing unnecessary interruptions.

In doing so, Facebook makes it possible for advertisers to craft ads that contain messages that resonate with the audience.

Facebook is always experimenting with various forms of ads to establish what works. For instance, there was a time when Facebook required that advertisers on its platform used text in their ads that wouldn’t occupy more than 20% of the actual ad. Facebook has since relaxed that rule.

For the most part though Facebook is still an ad network that heavily relies on visuals to drive more engagement.

Amazing ROI

Most marketers with a Google AdWords background are very impressed by Facebook’s advertising platform due to its broad use of graphics as well as a huge number of tools at the advertisers’ disposal that make ads more engaging.

One thing that most marketers don’t usually count on, is the impressive ROI they get when they advertise on Facebook. In addition, if you’re a savvy marketer on a shoestring budget, you’ll be surprised at how much you can stretch your budget.

Even though how much you spend on a Facebook ad ultimately depends on a range of factors such as:

  • Message
  • Scope
  • Overall campaign objectives

Most advertisers consider advertising on Facebook to be very cheap especially when you consider the granularity you’re able to target users with. No doubt, it’s this feature that makes the prospect of advertising on Facebook extremely appealing to small businesses and companies that don’t have plenty of resources at their disposal.

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

Now that you understand what makes each of these platforms appealing, you’ll now be in a better position to decide which one to use to better amplify your brand. I also hope you’ve noticed how these two platforms complement each other. For instance, you can use Google AdWords to direct traffic to a landing page where you collect visitors’ information then upload that database of personal information to Facebook and use their Lookalike Audience feature to find similar demographics.

Even though your advertising message should remain consistent when using these two platforms, it would be wise to tailor the message for the various audiences for maximum results.












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