August 14 2020

Facebook Advertising vs. Google Ads: Which is the Better Choice?

Facebook vs. Google AdsWhen it comes to targeted digital advertising, Facebook and Google are the two of the most popular choices for businesses, institutions and organizations. Both platforms are powerful and effective, with massive userbases. Google boasts more than 5.8 billion searches per day, while Facebook sees 1.73 billion daily users. While both can be well worth the investment, there are some nuances to consider when deciding how best to allocate your paid advertising dollars. Start by asking yourself the following questions.

  1. Is your product or service new or established?

  2. Are people searching for it?

  3. What stage of the conversion funnel are you targeting?

  4. How big is your budget?

  5. Do you have the resources to effectively generate ads on your chosen platform?

The answers to these questions can help you determine your starting point. While the best case scenario is to advertise on both platforms, it may be wise to make an initial investment in one or the other, depending on what you’re looking to accomplish.

Research, Goal-Setting & Budgeting

It’s important to understand how both platforms work. Both are auction-based, meaning you bid on ad space. The amount you’re willing to bid, the competition you face and the size of your audience will all determine how often and how prominently your ad is displayed. Both platforms are also based on the pay-per-click premise, meaning the amount of money you spend is based on the number of engagements your ad receives. These engagements are pre-defined and can include impressions, clicks and conversions, among others.

Begin by conducting some market research to identify levels of engagement with your industry across each platform. Are consumers searching for your product or service? If so, Google Ads could be a viable option, especially if your geographic area is narrower. If, on the other hand, your product is innovative and your market is niche, you may see better success building awareness through Facebook.

Consider the primary goal of your campaign. Are you interested in expanding your audience, driving awareness and generating demand? Paid social advertising is a great way to reach new users and influence prospects who are higher in the conversion funnel. If your campaign is more conversion-oriented and you’re targeting users who are lower in the sales funnel, Google Ads may be a better choice.

Before allocating spend, determine the size of your budget and the estimated return on ad spend (ROAS) you’re likely to see. Google Ads’ Performance Planner can help you research the expected costs required to advertise competitively. Note that the cost per action varies widely by industry, so targeting higher-volume search terms in a more saturated market will require greater ad spend. Facebook typically has a lower cost per action than Google and can give you more bang for your buck if your budget is more conservative.

When You Should Use Google Ads

Google is the world’s largest search engine, with a dominant 86% of market share as of April 2020. With Google Ads, businesses pay to have their products or services displayed on Google’s search engine results page (SERP). This can be valuable if your products are frequently searched and buying intent is high. For example, if you’re a lender offering mortgages, you can expect prospective borrowers to search for “low mortgage rates” and similar terms. Borrowers know when they need to take out or refinance a mortgage and will often turn to Google to compare options. These users are lower in the conversion funnel, meaning they have a clear sense of what they need and are often ready to convert.

With Google Ads, you’re serving up the content users are looking for at the time they’re looking for it. If your goal is to drive conversion, Google Ads is often the right choice (ideally complimented by a robust SEO strategy). Bear in mind, however, that Google Ads may require a larger spend budget. This is why research is key. Using Google’s Performance Planner, you can estimate how much you would expect to pay when targeting a specific set of keywords in a given geographic area and defining the intended average position of your ads.

The goal is always to have the highest possible average position while spending the least. The Performance Planner can help you understand how many impressions you can expect to receive, along with your estimated average click-through rate and cost per click. If your budget only allows for a few clicks per day, you’re unlikely to see the ROAS you’re looking for. Conversely, if your industry is less competitive and your budget can yield a large number of impressions and optimal average position, you might see great success with Google Ads.

The decision of whether or not to use Google Ads comes down to a few factors:

  • Whether your products and services are likely to be searched

  • Whether your campaign is conversion-based

  • Whether your budget can yield the results you’re looking for

When You Should Use Facebook

Facebook is great for awareness-building and can be an excellent option if your products are new, or if you’re looking to break into the marketplace and don’t have the same brand recognition as your competitors. If you’re targeting users higher up in the conversion funnel, Facebook can be a valuable tool for expanding your audience. Facebook also offers more advanced targeting options than Google, with the ability to zero in on certain interest groups and life stages, like users who are recently engaged or parents of young children. Additionally, you can target “lookalike audiences” who share similar interests and behaviors to your current audience.

Facebook is often a better option if you’re looking to spread the word about a new product, service or industry. In Google, your ads are shown side-by-side with your competitors’, and if those competitors have stronger reputations, users may opt to engage with them instead. On Facebook, your ads will be interspersed throughout users’ news feeds and across a variety of other touchpoints. Facebook ads can also be displayed on Instagram, allowing you to hit two heavily used social networks at once.

Facebook is often a good choice for B2C businesses, as consumers are more likely than businesses to make an impulse buy after repeated exposure to your ads. That’s not to say Facebook isn’t effective for B2B businesses too—the level of impact will just depend on your clients’ audiences and their intents.
It’s also important to consider that Facebook is a visual medium. Google Ads are primarily text-based, although display advertising is also an option frequently used for remarketing campaigns. If images or videos will help your audience understand your product and why it matters, consider investing more of your budget in Facebook, or use display ads to generate brand awareness across the Google Display Network. Be sure, however, that you have the resources to create high-quality visual content, whether in-house or through an agency.

Launching & Optimizing Your Campaigns

Regardless of which digital advertising platform you choose, it’s important to frequently monitor and optimize your campaigns. Use these learnings to fuel your future strategies and budgets so you can take a smart, well-informed approach to online advertising and maximize your ROAS.

Because Google Ads and Facebook serve different purposes and target users in different stages of the conversion funnel, consider a marketing plan that encompasses both. Ideally, you’d use Facebook to grow your audience through awareness-building campaigns, while Google Ads would be conversion-oriented and geared toward users who are ready to buy. Google Ads and Facebook can complement one another and often work best when used together.

To learn more about how ZAG can support your digital advertising efforts, contact us today.

  • Paid Advertising
  • Social Media

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.
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