Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Which Should You Be Using?

by | Last updated Nov 1, 2023 | Digital Marketing

Facebook Ads and Google Ads are two of the most popular paid advertising platforms, but they each have their own strengths and weaknesses. So which one is right for your business? Let’s compare Google Ads vs Facebook Ads to help your business decide which platform to use in your paid marketing strategy.

Understanding Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads, which is owned by Meta, is a platform for paid posts that businesses use to promote their products or services exclusively to Facebook users. Below are the specific features and advantages you should know before using Facebook to advertise your business.

How Does Facebook Ads Work?

Facebook Ads works by targeting users with similar demographic data, like age, interests, location, or online behaviors across Meta’s suite of products, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. When you advertise with Facebook, you can choose between eight ad formats and run your Facebook campaign based on one of three objectives for audience interaction—recognition, consideration, or conversions.

Facebook Ads Benefits

Businesses like using Facebook Ads because of the platform’s large audience. Meta currently reaches more than 3 billion active users per day, with Facebook ranking as the most popular social media platform. Along with giving businesses the opportunity to reach more potential customers, companies appreciate Facebook for its targeted advertising capabilities, detailed campaign performance reports, and affordable pricing.

Facebook Advertising Key Features

Along with powerful analytics, a variety of available ad formats, and granular targeting, Facebook Ads has several other features that are useful for businesses of all sizes, including:

  • Automated Bidding: Gets the most out of your ad budget and better optimize your campaigns for specific goals—like clicks, conversions, or impressions.
  • Lookalike Audiences: Create groups of people similar to your existing customers to reach new users who are more likely to be interested in your products or services.
  • Retargeting Options: Keep your brand top of mind and encourage more conversions by staying in front of potential customers across Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp.

Understanding Google Ads

Google Ads is Google’s online advertising platform that lets users create pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns in a variety of formats, including text, video, shopping, banner ads, and more. This advertising program displays ads across Google search results and Google’s partner mobile apps, websites, and videos. Here’s a rundown of Google Ads for beginners.

How Does Google Ads Work?

Google Ads works on a PPC advertising system, where advertisers place bids using one of four models—cost-per-click (CPC), cost-per-thousand impressions (CPM), cost-per-action (CPA), or cost-per-view (CPV)—depending on their goals and ad format. Then, Google shows ads in relevant search results based on bids. So, if your maximum bid is higher than your competitors, your ad will be above others on SERPs.

Google Ads Benefits

Google Ads prioritizes the quality of leads over quantity. While Google has no problem getting numbers (as its the most popular search engine in the world with a reach of over 90% of consumers), this ad platform is more concerned about attracting a highly targeted audience. Because Google users are already searching for information, products, and services, Google Ads can drive more qualified leads to your business.

Google Advertising Key Features

Like Facebook, Google Ads has automated bidding strategies, a variety of ad formats, and retargeting functions, but here are a few features specific to the Google Ads platform that companies love:

  • Google Display Network: Goes beyond search engine results to display your ads on the over two million websites and apps in their network.
  • Google Search Network: Allows you to display your ads on their partner search websites—like Google Search, Google Maps, and Google Shopping—whenever your keyword is searched.
  • Shopping Ads (Product Listing Ads): Showcase your product name, price, image, and availability in Google results to increase brand awareness and drive more traffic to your website.

Key Differences Between Facebook Ads & Google Ads

In many ways, these top advertising platforms work similarly and have the same capabilities, but here are the major differences of Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Facebook AdsGoogle Ads
Targeting CapabilitiesDemographicsDemographics, Keywords
Ad PlacementMeta Social Media PlatformsGoogle Search Network, Google Display Network
User IntentPassiveActive, Passive
Payment ModelCPC, CPMCPC, CPM
Tracking & AnalyticsMeta Ads ManagerGoogle Ads Manager

Targeting Capabilities

Google Ads provides basic demographic targeting, like age and location, but leans heavily on keyword searches. Facebook Ads relies on its user data, which allows ads to be tailored to individual profiles. However, Meta updates their advertising platform often, so the data used to create your target audience can become outdated more quickly.

Ad Placement

Facebook Ads uses Meta’s popular social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. Google Ads displays your ads on a combination of the Google Search Network and Google Display Network.

Whether you want your ads to appear on social media or in search engine results and websites will depend on your business and target audience.

User Intent

Facebook Ads is ideal for passive advertising since social media users will see sponsored products and services in their feed without looking for them. While Google Ads does take advantage of passive audiences, this platform more often appeals to users actively searching for a product or service to solve their problem.

In other words, Google Ads capture more people in the awareness or consideration phases of the buyer’s journey, while Facebook Ads are often placed in front of buyers who may not yet realize their problem.

Payment Model

Google Ads and Facebook Ads use the same payment models, but costs will differ for each ad depending on factors like ad placement, size, how much you bid, how many clicks or impressions it gets, and more. Their payment models are:

Tracking & Analytics

Both platforms provide a similar ad management tool to help you track your ad campaigns and important paid performance metrics, but there are some key differences.

Meta Ads Manager allows you to:

  • Choose which social media platforms your ads appear on and when
  • Automate your ads with AI
  • Start, pause, and stop ads at any time

Google Ads Manager allows you to:

  • Track your advertising budgets
  • Manage ad revenue
  • View in-depth reports on your ads’ activity
  • Track conversions
  • Follow full user journey of someone interacting with your ad, even if it’s a Facebook ad

Factors to Consider When Choosing Facebook or Google Ads

Facebook Ads and Google Ads are both great options, and many advertisers use them in tandem. Keep the following in mind when deciding which is right for your ad campaign.

Business Goals & Target Audience

Generally, Facebook Ads is better for building brand awareness and connecting with customers. On the other hand, Google Ads tends to be more effective at making sales and helping you find new customers.

Advertising Budget & Cost-Effectiveness

Facebook Ads typically has a lower average CPC at $0.26 but a smaller reach than Google Ads, which averages $1.00. Just note that these numbers will change if you pay for your ad campaign with cost per mille.

Ad Format & Creative Requirements

Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads offer a variety of formats, but Facebook Ads requires visual elements like images or videos to be the focal point, often leading to more eye-catching ads. Alternatively, Google Ads allows you to create simple, text-based ads, which might be ideal for beginners to paid advertising.

Successful Facebook & Google Ads Examples

Two law firms in Nebraska and Iowa hired Hurrdat to create an ad that promoted their legal services. One used Facebook Ads, while the other used Google Ads. Both performed well. Let’s break down each company’s paid advertising campaign strategy and why different platforms were right for them, despite being in the same industry.

Screenshot of Dyer Law Facebook Ad with testimonial

  • Goals: Stay top of mind within the community, maintain trust
  • Focus: Personal injury and workers compensation law
  • Ad type: Photo ad
  • Demographic: Ages 30-65, those that interacted with Meta content related to their business

This is a Dyer Law Facebook Ads example. They chose to use real client testimonials when creating their ads because they’re well-known within their community and wanted to show they’re trustworthy. Facebook Ads helped them refine their target audience to those who are most likely to need their services.

Screenshot of sponsored post on Google SERP for Hightower Reff Law

  • Goals: Show up in search engine results
  • Focus: Divorce and family law
  • Ad type: Search ad
  • Demographic: Those searching keywords related to their services, e.g. “divorce layer near me” or “female divorce attorney”

This Google Ads example was placed by Hightower Reff Law. It’s difficult to target a distinct audience with these types of services because almost anyone could need them, so Hurrdat recommended using a search ad campaign. Google Ads’ performance metrics show that Hightower Reff Law receives quality conversions each month from this campaign, and large numbers of people are seeing and clicking on this ad.

If you want to add Facebook or Google Ads into your business’ paid marketing strategy, Hurrdat Marketing offers paid advertising services that can help. Get started today!

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