For every business, the marketing mix will undoubtedly look different, be that the composition of digital vs more traditional marketing efforts, or the composition of activities and channels that make up a digital marketing strategy.
In this article, we’ll give a comprehensive introduction to two of the largest paid advertising platforms, Google Ads and Facebook Ads, with the ultimate aim of helping you decide which of these channels may be most appropriate for advertising your business.
Both Facebook and Google Ads fall into the broader marketing of PPC, where the advertiser pays for each click. Both channels require you to pay for results, so the first thing you need to consider before choosing to advertise on either of these channels is whether you have the budget available.
Both Facebook and Google have built-in planning tools to help you do this.
What Is Google Ads?
Google Ads allows you to place targeted adverts in the search results page in front of your ideal audience.
For this article, ‘Google Ads’ will primarily refer to Search Engine Marketing via Google Search and Shopping (as opposed to Google Display Network or Youtube – we’ll mention them where relevant).
In the case of Google Search, this is namely keyword targeting. Advertisers can choose specific keywords or phrases that they’d like to target based on their unique product or service offering. For example, the below yoga accessory supplier is targeting “yoga mat” as a keyword:
Once advertisers have provided the required information, Google will use this product attributes to match a user’s search query to relevant products. See an example below of the Google Shopping results for my “yoga mat” search:
Advertisers also can overlay several additional targeting options on top of their keywords and product data. This includes:
- Location targeting: the ability to target users who are in (or interested in) particular countries, cities or even specific postcodes
- Ad schedule targeting: the ability to control whether ads show at particular times of the day or on particular days of the week
- Device targeting: the ability to target particular devices e.g mobile, desktop, tablet
- Demographic targeting: the ability to target users differently based on their gender, age, parental status and/or household income
- Audience targeting: the ability to target users that fall into particular audiences, which can include (among others):
- Website visitors/remarketing: users who have previously visited your website e.g all users over the past 30 days
- Similar audiences: a type of audience auto-generated by Google, which creates a group of users with similar characteristics to your existing remarketing audiences
- Affinity audiences: users grouped based on their passions, habits, and interests e.g fitness enthusiasts
- In-market audiences: users grouped based on their recent purchase intent e.g in the market for fitness equipment
Based on the above, it’s easy to see why Google Ads can be an incredibly effective way to find new customers for your business.
Combined with the wealth of targeting criteria available, strategic bid and budget management, and engaging ad copy and creative, advertisers can reach the right users, with the right message, at the right time.
What Are Facebook Ads?
Facebook Ads Manager allows you to place ads across Facebook, Instagram, and the Audience Network. If you use Facebook or Instagram personally, you’ll undoubtedly have spotted some ads during your time browsing, whether that be in the newsfeed, stories, the Messenger app, or most recently across Facebook Marketplace.
Below is an example from my Facebook Newsfeed:
The core difference, however, is that Facebook/Instagram doesn’t benefit from user-intent in the same way that Google does, as the user has not initiated the process of searching before being served an ad.
However, to compensate for the difficulties surrounding user-intent on Facebook, the audience targeting options are far more detailed than those offered on Google Ads.
While Google Ads allows keyword/product focussed targeting, Facebook Ads helps users find businesses based on who they are. In addition to the location and demographics options found on Google Ads, Facebook’s demographic targeting options encompass life events (e.g engagement, marriage, moving house, getting a dog), parental status (down to the granularity of the age of the user’s children), and marital status.
Facebook also offers extensive interest and behavioral targeting options, allowing advertisers to target users based on a wealth of characteristics such as the brands they like, hobbies they have, TV shows they watch (interest targeting), as well as their digital activities, consumer classification and travel habits (behavioral targeting).
Advertisers also can create remarketing audiences (users who have previously interacted with your website or social profiles), as well as lookalikes – an audience generated by Facebook, which creates a group of users with similar characteristics to your existing remarketing audiences.
Should I Choose Google Ads or Facebook Ads for My Business?
Now that you have an understanding of what Google Ads and Facebook Ads are, and aware of some of their similarities, let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of advertising on each platform.
Advantages of Google Ads
Volume – As the world’s most popular and widely used search engine, Google is widely considered to be the leader in online advertising.
Intent – Google offers advertisers access to an unprecedented and unequaled potential audience of users, who, as we have discussed, are actively looking for goods and services. the purchase or lead intent of the user is all but guaranteed when targeting hyper-relevant, long-tail keywords (e.g purple yoga and barre mat).
Advanced – Google Ads is arguably the most advanced advertising platform, allowing advertisers access to the greatest volume of data and technical features, such as automated bidding, responsive ad copy, and attribution reporting. Effectively analyzing this data and strategically utilizing these features can enable advertisers to drive better performance and improved results. This extensive volume of data can help advertisers not only to understand their performance within the Google Ads interface but additionally how this advertising activity influences performance across other digital channels.
Suitable for all industries – Advertising on Google is suited better to particular industries, where Facebook may not be as appropriate, for example submitting an inquiry to a law firm, purchasing car insurance, or investing in property. A user is less likely to scroll through Facebook and decide to hire a law firm based on seeing a great ad, whereas placing an ad for your law firm on Google can help you secure a prominent position in the SERPs and win those customers who are already searching for legal services.
Suitable for B2B – Google can be a wiser choice for those offering B2B services or products. This means Google Ads is a good choice for businesses selling B2B training courses, or commercial and industrial products.
Advantages of Facebook Ads
Creating intent – if you’re a fan of luxury skincare products, you may not set out to buy any skincare on any given day. However, if you pop onto Facebook and see a particularly engaging ad advertising a great looking brand you’ve never heard of, or if your favorite skincare brand is having a sale or launching a new product, you’re still likely to make a purchase. It’s in these spontaneous purchase scenarios that Facebook Ads trumps Google Ads. Even if a user is not actively searching for a product on Google or in a purchase mindset, appropriate audience targeting and engaging ad creative on Facebook can result in a sale.
Reach – Facebook has further advantages, while it does have a smaller audience than Google, the potential audience reach is by no means small. The platform has an estimated 1.66 billion daily active users and it’s estimated that 66% of Facebook’s total audience is active every day.
Targeting – As already discussed, Facebook’s audience targeting capabilities are unparalleled, as people share so many details about their lives on Facebook – everything from engagement announcements to restaurant choices and holiday snaps – as well as engaging with content that is highly indicative of their interests, beliefs, ideologies, and values.
Cost – Typically, Facebook is a slightly cheaper platform to advertise on than Google, offering lower CPCs on the whole. In particular sectors, such as finance and insurance, CPCs can be as high as $54 on Google! Therefore, if you’re an advertiser just starting with a relatively small budget, Facebook advertising may be a more viable option for you than Google. That said, thanks to the extensive range of targeting options and ad formats, the platform has the potential to drive a good ROI for both limited and large budgets.
Visuals – Facebook is also a very visual platform, which lends itself well to products and services that can be showcased in an aesthetically pleasing way, particularly those that fall into the broader categories of fashion and beauty, health and fitness or food and dining. Ad formats such as carousel and collection ads allow advertisers to use multiple images and/or videos to showcase their products or services.
Disadvantages of Google Ads
As alluded to above, particular industries or topics that have a high search volume on Google can be very expensive and highly competitive.
Such topics include; insurance, loans, mortgages, and attorneys.
At the other end of the spectrum, if you’re a new brand and/or a brand offering a unique product or service, you may experience the opposite problem: low search volume.
This essentially means that nobody (or very few people) are searching for your keywords, meaning that you won’t get any/enough traffic. In this scenario, Facebook Ads may be a better choice, as you can use it to raise awareness of your brand amongst relevant audiences, who will hopefully then search for your brand further down the line.
Disadvantages of Facebook Ads
While the inherently visual nature of Facebook and Instagram can be advantageous for some, it may present a greater challenge for certain industries, it’s more difficult to create a beautiful Instagram story showcasing car insurance products compared to a new lipstick collection.
Ultimately, both Google Ads and Facebook Ads are invaluable platforms for advertisers to grow and expand their businesses