Every business that wants to establish a long-term brand that will be recognizable and bring in revenue has choices to make. Among these choices are the steps toward creating a business plan, forming a structure, establishing short-term and long-term goals, determining a digital marketing strategy, etc. Whether we are looking at the choice between traditional marketing and online marketing, SEO, hiring an agency or hiring an in-house team – everything needs to be weighed carefully. In this article, we examine how Google Ads fares against Facebook Ads, what makes them so important for businesses, and what the advantages of each are. The goal here is to help you decide which of these paid advertising strategies fits in better with your brand and company.

Why is this such an important decision to make?

Many digital marketing agencies viewed Google Ads and Facebook Ads in an adversarial way up until recently. After all, the two companies have a well-established rivalry when it comes to helping businesses and brands grow. And even though the entire situation is portrayed as a choice all businesses need to make at some point, the truth is quite the opposite. Although competitive, these two paid advertising platforms offer different benefits to different industries.

Therefore, it is only logical for marketers to advise businesses to combine the two strategies rather than limit themselves to one or the other. As a result, many companies choose to use both Google Ads and Facebook Ads to achieve their advertising goals. And for those that manage to find the optimal balance between the two, the potential is grand:

  • Boost in online visibility and brand awareness
  • Increase in lead generation and conversion rates
  • Discovery of new target audiences
  • Remarkable ROI, etc.

In our examination of these two approaches, we will consider the inner working of Google Ads and Facebook Ads, their advantages, and how best to incorporate them into your digital marketing strategy.

What are the differences between Google Ads and Facebook Ads?

For a business to make the best combination of these two advertising channels, it first needs to understand how they function. So, let’s take a closer look at the key differences between advertising on Google and advertising on Facebook.

Google Ads – Paid Search

Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords) is the world’s largest and most popular PPC advertising platform. The very notion of it is so well-established on a global scale that it is now synonymous with the term “paid search”. Despite the existence of other paid advertising platforms for search engines, Google Ads remains the dominant one.

How does it work?

“Paid search” focuses on ads that are optimized with relevant keywords and extensions, all to make them more likely to appear on search results pages. When you use Google Ads, you are in fact bidding on keywords with other competitive companies in your industry. These are specific phrases that target search queries most likely to be used by Google users. Once a business matches the keywords with the query, their ads get the chance to display above organic search results for specific queries.

Each time a user clicks on the Google Ad for your business, you get charged a certain amount of money – pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. The topic of PPC itself is too complex and wide for us to explore any further here.

For now, we will summarize this approach as a way for companies to discover new customers based on their choice of keywords and their bidding budget.

Facebook Ads – Paid Social

“Paid social” falls under the strongest social media advertising channel in use today. Currently, Facebook counts the highest number of monthly active users than any other social media network in the world. Therefore, it has become a very lucrative source for digital marketing activities for both individuals and businesses. At first glance, the principle appears parallel to that of paid search ads in terms of promoting a brand online. However, there are essential differences between the two approaches, as any experienced marketer will testify to.

  • To put the difference between Google Ads and Facebook Ads simply – the former helps you find new audiences while the latter helps audiences discover you.

Paid social ads don’t focus on relevant keywords so much as to how their potential customers behave and what they look for. Starting categorizing audiences based on preferences, age, gender, interests, occupations, etc. – advertising on Facebook helps users match with your business. Once again, we won’t get into the complexity of how Facebook Ads work because this is not what we’re here to discuss.

The upsides of focusing on Google Ads

Google is the dominant force when it comes to online advertising to this day. With more than 3.5 billion search queries every single day, it is the world’s most popular and widely used search engine. And so, it is of little surprise as to how the chance to advertise on Google can be such an impactful strategy. The entirety of advertising your business through Google comes down to two primary networks:

  • Search Network. This channel is the core and essence of PPC advertising, with advertisers bidding on millions of keywords to target potential leads.
  • Display Network. Oriented more towards visual ads in the form of banners, this channel of Google ads spans across the World Wide Web. Unlike the Search Network, it is more practical for boosting brand visibility through tailored banner ads.

And with that, we can start looking at the primary benefits of paid advertising on Google:

A deep pool of potential audiences

One of the main advantages of using Google as an advertising platform is its immense reach. Google handles more than 40,000 search queries every second, a total of more than 1.2 trillion web searches every single year. As Google becomes increasingly sophisticated – in part to its growing reliance on its proprietary artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, RankBrain – this amazing search volume is likely to increase, along with the potential for advertisers to reach new customers.

Put simply, no other search engine can offer the potential audience that Google can. This vast potential source of prospective customers alone makes Google an excellent addition to your digital marketing strategy, but when combined with Google’s increasingly accurate search results, it’s easy to see why AdWords is the most popular and widely used PPC platform in the world.

Balanced playing field

One of the biggest misconceptions among those new to PPC is that whoever has the largest advertising budget somehow automatically “wins” at Google ads. Fortunately, nothing could be farther from the truth as AdWords focuses primarily on the quality and relevance of ads, not how much advertisers spend.

The more relevant an ad is to the user, the better the experience that user is likely to have – and, therefore, the more likely they are to continue using Google as their go-to search engine. For this reason, Google AdWords rewards relevance and quality above all other factors. This is why smart advertisers with relevant, optimized, high-quality ads rarely have to bid as highly as advertisers with poorer ads.

Certain keywords may cost more than others – such as those in the financial industry, which are traditional among the most expensive of any professional sector – but how much advertisers have to bid will depend largely on the quality and relevance of their advertisements. Some metrics are more important to Google in its evaluation of quality and relevance than others, such as click-through rate, which is considered a reliable indication of an ad’s overall quality and appeal.

A wide range of ad formats

When AdWords first launched in 2000 (with a grand total of just 350 advertisers), the text-based ads that Google served alongside its search results were rudimentary, to say the least – but they did contain many of the same elements that can be seen in today’s ads.

Although PPC ads in AdWords remain text-based, advertisers can take advantage of an incredible number of features to make their ads more compelling and enticing to prospective customers. Ad extensions, site links, social proofing such as user reviews, location targeting, Shopping ads, and a host of other features are available to advertisers, offering an unparalleled level of customization and control to advertisers. Google has even introduced ad formats tailored to the unique needs of specific types of businesses, such as vehicle manufacturers and hotels, which go far beyond the typical text-based ad experience and incorporate rich visual elements such as high-resolution images and interactive map data.

No matter what you sell or to whom, the chances are good that there’s an ad format or feature that will make your goods or services more appealing to your target market. Google is continually implementing new ad formats and features, further empowering advertisers to reach new audiences and drive new business.

The upsides of focusing on Facebook Ads

Compared to Google AdWords, Facebook Ads (as we know it today) is the scrappy newcomer, but in fact, Facebook has been refining and improving its advertising solution for several years. Today, Facebook Ads is a pioneer in the sphere of paid social and has become a central part of many businesses’ digital marketing strategies.

A means to segregate audiences

Similarly to Google AdWords, Facebook boasts a truly vast global audience. With more than 1.55 BILLION monthly active users – more than one-fifth of the entire world’s population, and that’s not counting inactive or infrequently used accounts – Facebook has no rival when it comes to the enormity of its audience. However, rather than exposing advertisers and their messaging to this vast audience, the true strength of Facebook’s immense audience lies in the potential granularity with which advertisers can target Facebook users.

People share almost every conceivable detail of their lives on Facebook. From meeting and marrying partners to the birth of children or the celebration of new career moves, Facebook’s users share the joys and accomplishments of life’s milestones with their friends and networks every single day. They also search for and consume content that aligns with a huge range of personal interests, beliefs, ideologies, and values, presenting advertisers with a unique opportunity to tailor advertising messages to target audiences in ways previously considered impossible, or even unimaginable.

One of the most powerful applications of this functionality is the ability for advertisers to create what are known as “lookalike audiences.” Advertisers can upload customer information from their own databases to Facebook, which then applies to filter based on its own data and information provided by third-party data brokers to match users whose information the advertiser uploads. This creates the “lookalike” audience of users, allowing advertisers to effectively double the potential reach of their advertisements by targeting new customers who exhibit the same interests and consumer behavior as their existing customers.

Many newcomers to paid social ask the same question, namely “Does Facebook advertising work?” By now, the answer should be clear – yes it does, and remarkably well. However, rather than view Facebook as the world’s largest potential billboard, advertisers should consider Facebook as a way to get closer to their ideal customers than they ever thought possible.

A very visual platform for advertising

Unlike their comparatively dry, text-based PPC cousins, Facebook ads are powerfully visual. The very best Facebook ads blend in seamlessly with the videos, images, and other visual content in users’ News Feeds, and this enables advertisers to leverage not only the strongly persuasive qualities of visual ads but to do so in a way that conveys the aspirational messaging that makes high-quality ads so compelling.

Just as Google is constantly experimenting with the formatting of its text-based PPC ads, Facebook constantly evaluates how it can offer advertisers a superior marketing platform and users a satisfying, rewarding online experience. In the past, Facebook mandated that ads on its platform featured text that occupied no more than 20% of the total advertising area, a restriction it has since relaxed. However, despite this considerable change to its advertising governance, Facebook remains an inherently visual platform – a major selling point to many advertisers.

Potentially good ROI

Businesses and marketers experimenting with Facebook Ads are often impressed by the granularity of its targeting options, as well as the tools they have at their disposal for creating beautiful, engaging ads. However, one element of Facebook Ads that consistently takes newcomers by surprise is the potential return on investment than advertising on Facebook offers, and how far savvy advertisers can stretch a limited ad budget on the platform.

Although the budget of a Facebook advertising campaign will vary widely depending on a range of factors, such as scope, messaging, and overall campaign objectives, Facebook Ads are remarkably affordable, especially when considering their potential impact and the granularity with which advertisers can target their ideal audiences. This highly competitive pricing makes Facebook Ads a very attractive proposition to small businesses and companies with limited resources – not just big brands with vast marketing budgets. Combined with the remarkable potential returns offered by the platform, Facebook Ads is one of the best-value online advertising solutions available today.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: the choice every business is faced with

Both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are incredibly powerful advertising platforms that cater to virtually every type of business. When evaluating each solution’s strengths and potential applications, it’s also apparent that the two platforms should be viewed in a complementary, rather than adversarial, way. Some people insist on comparing Facebook Ads to the Google Display Network, and while the two platforms share some similarities, the ways in which the two platforms have evolved independently of one another shows that AdWords and Facebook should be used in concert, not in opposition.

Harnessing the power of both paid search and paid social is a remarkably effective advertising strategy. However, it necessitates a dual advertising strategy that aligns with the strengths of each respective platform. Although marketing messaging can – and arguably should – remain consistent across both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, it’s vital to understand how best to use each platform for maximum ROI and greater business growth.

Every industry abides by different rules when it comes to these types of choices

There’s not a specific situation where one platform is better over the other. It is important for businesses to analyze their options and know their goals before embarking on a campaign with either Facebook Ads or Google AdWords. Once you have outlined your goals and started your campaign, make sure to always measure and track your campaigns in order to ensure it is still accurate, targeting the correct audience and cost-effective.