Facebooks Ads vs Google Ads: What’s the Difference?


Are you interested in promoting your business online? If so, you’ve probably heard that you should start with either Facebook or Google ads. They’re both popular platforms, and they offer ad space, so they’re probably the same, right? This is an incorrect assumption, but it’s something I regularly hear from clients.

In this post, I will break down Facebook ads vs Google ads and outline several differences between these two advertising platforms, so you are better informed about your options before kicking off your next marketing project.

Intent vs Non-Intent Based Marketing

When someone is actively searching for a product or service, they go to Google and type in a query. This user is showing an intent to acquire that product or service. If you have a product or service that satisfies this search, then you can use Google’s ad platform to deliver your ad to that user.

Since they are actively looking for your product, and you put yours in front of them, this is intent-based marketing. Google also has the advantage of Google Shopping. These shopping results show up when people are searching for specific products and Google will show a product image, any reviews, the price and more.

Google has optimized their platform well to deliver the best results to their users and their advertisers. The conversion rates of this intent-based marketing are usually very high since you’re providing something they are looking for.

Facebook on the other hand is more like a cold-selling approach. Facebook ad campaigns can target people that may be interested in your products based on their interests and demographics, but they’re not actively looking for you. They’re on Facebook to connect with their friends and family. Therefore, you have to capture their attention and encourage them to perform an action such as buy or signup. It’s a little more work to sell people that aren’t looking to be sold.

where to place your ad dollars

Ad Placement Options

Facebook and Google are both very powerful platforms with each having an incredible reach. Their display and placement options allow you to connect with people almost everywhere on the web.

Related: Search Engine Marketing Defined and Where SEO Fits In

With Facebook, you can reach people within the Facebook ecosystem. This includes Facebook, Instagram and apps/websites that have the Facebook ad code implemented on their site. You can check out their article on available placements for more information.

Google’s reach, however, expands across the internet. It includes but is not limited to Gmail, YouTube, Google Search, Google Shopping and websites/apps that have Google Adsense code implemented on their site. Even Reddit has Google ads displayed on their website. This help article from Google can break down all of the advertising options on Google because that’s hours’ worth of content itself.

Ad Targeting

There’s no question that Facebook and Google have a lot of information on their users. They get this information either from users directly, from digital properties that have their code installed on the site and many more sources.

When you create your Facebook profile, you give it some demographic information. This includes your age, your sex and where you live. You can even optionally tell them if you’re in a relationship and if you’re interested in men or women.

You also feed Facebook with more data by liking pages and posting content. If you like brands like Sephora and Ulta, or share makeup videos, then Facebook will gather that you’re interested in makeup. You will probably see ads for makeup.

Google can use your past search data and recently visited websites to determine more information about you. Even if you’re not signed in with an account, their algorithm is constantly trying to learn what they can about you. Not just so that they can show you relevant search results, but relevant ads as well. Of course, to ensure that your targeting is effective, you should perform some market research.

Targeting Options

As an advertiser, your targeting options between the two platforms are not one-to-one. However, you can still reach your ideal customer on both Google and Facebook.

With Facebook, you can target people based on their interests and demographics. For example, you can reach a young mother of 21 in New York, with a newborn baby, that likes yoga, has an iPhone and is interested in cars.

On Google, you can target people based on their searches, affinity categories they belong to, and even the type of content they watch on YouTube.

These are some of the basic options for the targeting you can use on the platforms. For a more in-depth look at how you can target, check out this article from Google and this article from Facebook.

On both platforms, you can also use retargeting to show as that have interacted with you brand. Here’s our article on how you can use retargeting to reach users.

Social Proof for Ads

One of my favorite things about advertising on Facebook is that your posts within the feeds look and act like regular posts on the platform. This includes displaying any likes, comments and shares. This type of engagement is called social proof. It’s proof that other people like your content enough to attach their name to it. If other people are doing it, then it must be worth doing as well.

Think about two similar restaurants across the street from each other. If one has a lot of people at it and the other has none, then you’d want to go to the busy restaurant. That’s because if it’s busy, it must mean it’s good. Apply the same concept to a Facebook ad. If there’s a lot of engagement, then people believe that others must think it’s good.

Another form of social proof on Facebook is video views. Here’s a secret hack to get cheap video views.

With Google, social proof is not possible except for on Google Shopping. If your product has reviews, then Google Shopping will display them. Other than Google Shopping, you do not get the value of social proof on your ads on the Google platform.

Organic Reach

Another thing that is great about advertising within the Facebook feed is that you can earn organic impressions and potentially go viral.

When people tag their friends in the comments or share a post, that’s showing your ad to people that didn’t get targeted directly by your ads. So you may have paid for 1,000 people to see your ad, but it has a chance to be seen by much more than that, depending on how engaging the content is. This can be huge for small businesses with a low marketing budget.

Related: 10 Marketing Tips for Small Businesses That Cost $0

Unfortunately, Google doesn’t have this type of reach with their platform. Once you turn off your ads, the 1,000 people that you paid to see your ad will be the only people that see it.

Facebook extends their organic reach even further by reminding people of things they’ve shared via their memories feature. This is where Facebook shows you something you previously shared. I still regularly see people re-sharing old ads from pages that I abandoned years ago.

Facebook vs Google: Which Platform Should You Use?

To answer this question, you need to know what your objective is and if there’s intent for your product.

If you have a product or service, then I would try with Google ads first because you can bid on keywords around your product information. That capitalizes on buyer intent.

If your product is new and there aren’t any searches around it, then you should use Facebook ads to educate the market and get in front of audiences. I firmly believe that most businesses can use and profit from Facebook ads. Since it’s a little more beginner friendly, in my opinion, I would recommend most people start there first. It can play a big part in a successful product launch.

Of course, if you’re unsure about getting started, you may want to consider connecting with a professional that can help with your campaigns.

Creating an advertising campaign involves research, content creation, implementation and then optimization. There are a lot of moving parts. Sometimes several people are working on a campaign. ProjectManager.com is project management software with real-time data, task lists for task management and great collaborative features to keep everyone on the same page. Try it today with this free 30-day trial.

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