October 6, 2022

Google Ads v Facebook Ads

Google Ads v Facebook Ads

Google Ads and Facebook ads are the two most widely discussed and compared advertising platforms for digital marketers. They’re also the biggest players in the space: Google has cornered 83% of all internet traffic in 2022, while Facebook has 2.93 billion active users monthly.

When it comes to advertising, these two platforms couldn’t be more different. Google Ads is all about keywords and search intent, while Facebook Ads is all about targeting. So which one should your business use?

The answer, of course, is that it depends on your business’s goals and needs. In this post, we’ll take a closer look at Google Ads and Facebook Ads, so you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you.

Specifically, we'll compare and contrast factors like targeting options, campaign structure, ad formats, user friendliness, and more. We'll also share tips on how to select the right platform for your (or your client's) business.

Ready to jump in? Let’s start with a quick overview of each platform.

What are Facebook Ads

What are Facebook ads?

Facebook introduced Facebook Ads in 2007 to give businesses a way to reach millions of users on the platform. This allowed brands to create business pages, access insights about their target audiences, and create ad campaigns targeting those users.

Since then, Facebook has become a critical part of many businesses' marketing mix. In fact, Facebook ad spend has risen to a staggering $15 billion in 2022.

Facebook ads use targeted ads that exclusively run through Facebook's social advertising platform. Facebook ads can appear in Facebook's Feed, Facebook Messenger, and non-Facebook apps and websites within the Meta ecosystem. This includes popular sites like Instagram, Audience Network, and WhatsApp.

Facebook ads allow marketers to hyper-target their audience. For instance, you can set ads to target people based on factors like:

  • Location
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Interests
  • Behaviors
  • Connections

Many of these targeting options aren't available on other ad platforms, which is one of the reasons Facebook ads are so powerful.

The process for creating Facebook ads is quite simple: businesses first create an ad using Facebook's ad builder. Then, you can set a budget for your ad campaign, which can be as little as $5 per day, although it’s recommended a minimum of $10 a day. After that, you'll need to set a bid, aka how much you're willing to pay, for each click or thousand impressions that your ad will receive - however Facebook can set one automatically.

Once you've launched your ad, you can keep tabs on its performance using Facebook's insights tool. This allows you to see how many people are seeing and interacting with your ad so you can make necessary adjustments.

What are Google Ads

What are Google ads?

Google Ads is Google's paid advertising platform. Advertisers use it to display ads on Google Search and across the Google Display Network, which includes millions of websites and apps.

Google Ads allows businesses of all sizes to reach their target audiences through text, image, video, and rich media ads. Advertisers can also use Google Ads to drive phone calls, app downloads, and in-store visits.

Google Ads is a complex platform with a lot of features that are designed to help businesses of all sizes succeed. Below are some of the most popular:

  • Keyword targeting: Keywords are the foundation of SEO and digital marketing in general. It's no surprise that they're also a critical part of Google Ads. Advertisers use keywords to target their ads to users who are searching for specific terms on Google. For instance, if you're trying to sell women's shoes, you might target keywords like "women's shoes" or "shoes for women."
  • Location targeting: Another critical component of Google Ads is location targeting. This allows advertisers to target their ads to users in specific locations, right down to the city or zip code. This is good for businesses that want to drive local traffic, like brick-and-mortar stores.
  • Device targeting: Google Ads also gives advertisers the ability to target their ads to users on specific devices, like smartphones, tablets, or desktop computers. This is helpful for businesses that want to ensure that their ads are seen by people who are most likely to convert.
  • Ad scheduling: Ad scheduling is a feature that allows advertisers to control when their ads are shown. For instance, you can set your ad to only run during business hours or on certain days of the week. This is great for businesses who want to make sure their ads are shown at the times when they're most likely to be successful.

Google Ads also offers a number of other features, like ad extensions and remarketing, that allow marketers to fully customize their online advertising campaigns.

Like Facebook Ads, Google Ads also comes with an analytics platform that allows businesses to track the performance of their ads. This includes metrics like impressions, clicks, and conversions.

Google ads vs. Facebook ads

Understanding the differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads is essential for maximizing the effectiveness of your digital marketing campaigns. It will also impact everything from your ad budget to the ad content, design, and how it will complement the rest of your strategy.

With that said, here's a quick overview of the key differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads:

Audience size and reach

1. Audience size and reach

Both Google and Facebook have a large audience, but Google has a much larger reach. Google's search engine processes an average of 5.6 billion searches a day, or 60,000 search queries every second.

While Facebook does have more than 2 billion monthly active users, only 67% of those log in every day. And just because they log in doesn't mean they're scrolling through their newsfeed and seeing your ads.

Still, audience size and reach should not be the only factors you consider when choosing between Google Ads and Facebook Ads. The quality of the audience is just as important, if not more so.

2. Advertising cost and ROI

Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads are effective at driving website traffic and generating leads. However, Google Ads is generally more expensive than Facebook Ads.

This is typically measured through CPC or cost-per-click, aka how much you'll pay for every click you get for your paid search ad or paid social ad.

The average CPC (cost per click) for Google Ads is $2 to $4, while the global average CPC for Facebook Ads is $0.35. In addition, the CPC for Google Ads can vary wildly depending on how competitive the keyword is that you're bidding on. So the more popular the keyword (aka, the higher the search volume and, therefore, the potential for traffic to your website), the higher the CPC.

The CPA or cost-per-action is also important to consider. This measures how much you'll pay for a conversion, like someone signing up for your email list or making a purchase on your website. Like CPC, Google CPA is also higher on average than Facebook CPA.

However, the advertising cost and ROI you get from Google Ads or Facebook Ads also depend on other factors, such as the quality of your ad, how well-targeted it is, and whether you're using other marketing channels to supplement your paid campaigns.

Buyer Intent

3. Buyer intent

When people use Google to search for something, they generally have an intent to buy — which makes Google Ads ideal for “bottom of the funnel” marketing initiatives like product discounts and free shipping offers.

Facebook Ads, on the other hand, are better suited for “top of the funnel” initiatives like brand awareness campaigns since people typically use Facebook to stay connected with friends and family rather than shop online.

At present, however, Google remains the clear winner when it comes to buying intent.

Most people who use search engines to look for products and services are ready to make a purchase or very close to it. That means that if you're selling a product or service, Google Ads is likely to be your best bet for driving conversions.

4. Targeting options

While Google Ads trumps Facebook for buying intent, Facebook Ads offers a more robust targeting system.

Being a social media platform, Facebook has access to a wealth of data about its users, many of which are voluntarily provided by users themselves. This data includes everything from job title and education level to interests, relationship status, and even political views.

Naturally, the more targeted your ad is, the more effective it will be. And since Facebook Ads allows you to target your ads with laser precision, it's generally considered to be the better platform for targeted advertising.

5. Ad formats

The ad format is another major consideration when choosing between Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

Google offers four primary ad formats: text ads, call-only ads, display ads,  and shopping ads. Text ads only contain text (with an image extension alongside the text), while call-only ads only contain a phone number and a call button. Shopping ads, as you might expect, are used to promote products and generally contain an image, price, and some basic product information.

Facebook, on the other hand, offers a much wider variety of ad formats, including image ads, video ads, slideshow ads, carousel ads, collection ads, and instant experience ads.

There's no clear "better" option here because the effectiveness of your ad formats depends heavily on the nature of your business and your audience. If you're marketing to Gen Z buyers, for example, you'll want to create dynamic ad content that's highly visual and engaging — in which case, Facebook Ads would be a better option.

Conversely, if you're trying to capture people who already know what they want to buy, then running shopping ads on Google would be a more effective use of your ad spend.

Ad placement options

6. Ad placement options

Google and Facebook Ads both offer a wide range of ad placement options thanks to their search partners.

So if you want to run Google Ads, you can have them displayed not just on the Google SERPs and Google properties (like YouTube) but also on other popular websites like Amazon, The Washington Post, and the NY Times. Google Ads can also be shown on other search engines such as Lycos and Ask.com.

Similarly, with Facebook Ads, you can have your ads displayed not just on Facebook's native placement options (e.g., Marketplace, Facebook Feed, and Stories) but also on its search partners' websites and apps. Some of these include Instagram, Messenger, and the Audience Network.

So what does this mean for your paid ad campaign?

In short, it means that you'll have a lot of control over where your ads are shown. And since you can select specific placements for your ads, you can ensure that your ads are only being shown to people who are likely to be interested in them.

This is a key consideration when choosing between Google Ads and Facebook Ads because it can have a major impact on your campaign's overall effectiveness.

7. Average CTR

The average CTR (click-through rate) for Google Search ads is 2%, while the average CTR for Facebook News Feed ads is 1.11%. In layman's terms, this means that people are slightly more likely to click on a Google Search ad than they are to click on a Facebook News Feed ad.

However, keep in mind that CTR varies depending on your industry — so your mileage may vary.

8. Ease of use

Both platforms require some time to learn how to use them effectively. However, many businesses find that Google Ads is more complex than Facebook Ads — particularly if you want to take advantage of all the features it offers.

On the other hand, if you’re just getting started with online advertising or don’t have a lot of time to invest in learning a new platform, Facebook Ads may be a better option for you.

Facebook ads vs. Google ads: Which is best for your business?

It's not enough to simply know that there's a difference between Google Ads and Facebook Ads — you also need to understand how those differences can affect your business goals before making a decision about which platform is right for you.

Consider the following factors before you choose:

Business Goals

1. Your business goals

What are you hoping to accomplish with your digital ad campaign? Are you looking to increase brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Generate leads? Boost sales? Your answer will help you decide which platform is right for your business.

Generally speaking, Google Ads is better for driving traffic and generating leads, while Facebook Ads is better for boosting sales and increasing brand awareness. That being said, both platforms can be effective for achieving any business goal — it just depends on how you use them.

2. Your ad budget

How much money are you willing to spend on advertising each month? That will help narrow down your choices quite a bit. If you only have a limited budget, Facebook Ads may be the better option since they tend to be less expensive than Google Ads (although the average cost per click is rising). On the other hand, if money isn't an issue, then either platform could work for you.

Types of Content

3. The type of content you create

Again, when it comes to search ads, Google Ads works best with text-based ads, while Facebook Ads works best with image-based ads or video content. If you already have high-quality visuals or video content created, then Facebook may be the way to go since that type of content performs best on their platform (although text-based ads can still be effective).

However, if creating new visuals or videos isn't feasible for your business at the moment, running text-based ads on Google may be a better option until you have time to create more graphic content down the road.

4. The competitiveness of your industry

The level of competition in your industry will also play a role in deciding which platform is right for your business. For example, if there are already a lot of businesses running ads on Google in your industry, chances are it will be quite competitive and expensive — meaning it may not be worth investing in Google Ads (at least not yet).

However, if there aren't many businesses running ads on Facebook in your industry yet, that could present an opportunity for you to get ahead of the competition by leading the pack.

Google ads and Facebook ads - what are the next steps?

When it comes to online advertising, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. It all depends on your business goals, target audience, budget, and which platform you feel most comfortable using. If you’re not sure where to start, we recommend trying both Google Ads and Facebook Ads to see which one works better for your business.

Regardless of which ad platform you decide to go with, ad analytics and reporting will be an integral part of your success. Without data, you won’t be able to track your progress or measure your results — making it difficult to improve your campaigns over time.

Reporting Ninja offers reporting and automation tools for both Google Ads and Facebook Ads so you can get the insights you need to make informed decisions about your campaigns.

Plus, our platform makes it easy to share reports with clients and stakeholders — freeing up your time to focus on other important tasks.

Try Reporting Ninja free for 15 days and see if it can boost your productivity and help you run better digital ad campaigns today.

Fran Sánchez