Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

So you’ve chosen a business idea, you’ve created your website, and now you need to spread the word.

Chances are, you’re already considering advertising through the two behemoths of the online advertising world, Google and Facebook. But should you buy ads? If so, which platform should you use?

Here, we’ll look at the differences between Facebook and Google’s paid advertising and give you the information you need to make better advertising decisions in the future.

Table of Contents:

  • The basics of online advertising
  • Google ads vs Facebook ads: What are the differences?
  • Google ads vs Facebook ads: additional considerations
  • Final thoughts

The basics of online advertising

The world of online advertising can be overwhelming, especially if you’re starting from scratch with no marketing background. Nevertheless, starting an advertising campaign is fairly easy. Let’s start with a few basic terms and concepts:


Facebook ads and Google ads fall under the category of “pay-per-click (PPC) advertising.” When you buy PPC ads, you bid on a price and, once that price is set, you pay that amount of money every time someone clicks on one of your ads.

User Search Intent

This refers to search terms that customers can use to find your business. Why are they searching for a business on Facebook instead of Google? What problem do they want to solve when they search for a particular term?

A user’s search intent can help you target ads very effectively. This is because you’re essentially anticipating people’s pain points and tailoring your ads to them. If you know someone’s problem, you can figure out how to solve it and then show ads that will show them the solution (your product or service).

A person’s intent will vary depending on the platform they are using and what stage of the sales funnel they are in. Google’s algorithm, in particular, starts to reward content that is optimized for the user’s intent, not just for keywords. Good content wins here, not pages stuffed with keywords and questions.


CPC stands for “cost per click,” and it is the rate you will ultimately pay to Google or Facebook for placing your ads. CPA stands for “cost per action,” where the advertiser pays each time a customer takes a certain desired action (email subscription, product purchase, etc.).

Google Ads and Facebook Ads: What are the differences?

Both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, and each can attract an audience in its own unique way. Depending on your needs, you may decide to use both Facebook Ads and Google Ads to maximize your audience reach.

Paid search and paid social advertising

Google ads are considered paid search ads and Facebook ads are considered paid social ads. But what’s the difference between these two types of ads?

Paid search is when you pay to have your ad appear on a search engine results page (SERP). We see these ads every time we use Google: they are the links at the very top, labeled “ad.”

To help search engines distinguish organic search results from paid ads, Google marks all ads with the word “Ad” in bold at the beginning of the ad title.

Paid search ads are based on targeted keywords, not audience interest. You create ads for keywords related to your business that you think people will search for most often. Keeping your audience’s intent in mind will help you understand what those keywords should be.

Paid social advertising, on the other hand, is a way to draw users’ attention to your brand on social media. As platforms change their algorithms, it’s getting harder to do this organically. With paid advertising, you can be first in line.

When buying ads, it’s also important to consider the distribution network you’re buying into. Both Google and Facebook have significant reach.

Google’s network allows you to reach YouTube, Google Display Network and even Google Maps. Facebook can put you in front of millions of Instagram users, send your ads through Messenger and put them in your news feed. Choosing the best option for you depends on where your customers spend their time online.

Audience size

Both Google and Facebook have huge user bases. An estimated 1.7 billion people visit Facebook daily, and Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger are used by more than three billion people.

Google handles nearly six billion search queries a day. The search engine also owns more than 90 percent of all searches through its sites, and people are four times more likely to click on paid Google ads than any other search engine.

This brings us to the issue of audience size. When considering audience size, think about your product. Is it what people will search on Google, or what people are more likely to find on social media? 5.8 billion searches a day won’t help you if they don’t bring you traffic.

Likewise, if you’re advertising something that Facebook users aren’t likely to like, you’re better off taking a broader route to Google. What matters is where your target audience is active.

ROI and cost

You buy these ads because you expect a return on investment (ROI). It depends on how much you pay for the ads. Ideally, you get maximum audience reach without spending your entire budget.

The cost of advertising depends on everything: what keywords you use, the platform you’re on, the industry you’re in. The CPC (cost per click) for certain keywords on Google can range from just over one dollar to over fifty dollars.

Google ads cost a little more than Facebook ads. The average CPC for Google ads is $2.69, while businesses in industries with low CPCs, such as apparel, pay about $0.45 per click on Facebook. However, if you choose Facebook and advertise on Instagram, it will cost you about twice as much as a regular Facebook ad.

The price is largely dictated by what industry you’re in. For example, the $50-plus price tag is for the insurance industry. If you’re in an industry where the CPC for Google is very high, Facebook may be a better option to start with.

CPC is just one factor to consider. The other is CPA (cost per action). How many clicks are you paying for and how many of those people who click on the link take the action you want?

You need to determine how many conversions it will take to make your advertising costs acceptable. If you pay more but get more paying customers through targeted advertising, it’s probably worth it in the long run.

Customer Intent

When choosing where to advertise, consider the context in which people will search for your services. Do you have a business that people are most likely to search for online, or one that they’re more likely to notice on social media?

For example, if you have a mechanic shop, people are likely to look for a mechanic nearby if they have a problem with their car. This means that search advertising will lead you to them exactly when they need your company.

If you’re in the photography business, it’s best to run social ads so that people find your page while they’re browsing and come back later when they’re ready to buy. Social advertising is great for this type of business because while it may not convert right away, it will expand your audience in the long run.

It all depends on your potential customer’s intent. Whether you need to be there when they have a problem or you want to increase brand awareness, you can position yourself accordingly.

Targeting your audience

Both Google and Facebook give you very detailed options for targeting ads. You can show ads to people based on anything from geographic location to age and income level.

While you might think Google would win in this category, it’s Facebook that puts the most data at your disposal. You can segment your audience based on specific behaviors and interests, which Facebook collects a wealth of information about from its billions of active users.

If you’re the type of business owner who likes to create detailed customer personas, Facebook ads allow you to match them. You can target a specific demographic such as suburban Iowa moms with two kids who follow a vegan diet. So if your target customer is a very narrow audience, you might want to go that route.

Available ad formats

Another key to targeting ads is ad format. What format is appropriate for your business? If you’re selling something that can be visually displayed, like furniture or clothing, a format like Instagram would work best. But both Google and Facebook give you plenty of options for creativity.

Google search ads are usually limited to text only, so this will be your main tool to get people’s attention. You can also add extensions to your ads for free to increase click-through rates. Google ad extensions show:

  • Dynamic site links (about us, menus, etc.)
  • Options that encourage people to interact, such as the “Call this company” option.
  • Structured snippets that display a brief description along with a link.

Ad extensions can be set up manually or appear automatically when Google’s algorithm thinks they will increase ad effectiveness.

Facebook ads are much more visual. Not only can you use eye-catching images, Facebook and Instagram also let you use video content in your ads (although you can also buy video ads that run on YouTube through Google).

The importance of visuals should not be forgotten. Content with images gets an average of 94 percent more views than text content. This can be a powerful way to engage people and pique their curiosity.

Facebook allows you to use different types of ads in targeted ads, each with visual elements. Carousels, images, videos and more can help your ads get more attention, especially if you’re in e-commerce.

In this context, Facebook can be especially effective when it comes to increasing brand awareness. Consistently posting eye-catching images and short videos from your freelance photography business as ads will draw people to your page. Once they come to you, they will be able to follow you to stay up-to-date.

Google ads vs Facebook ads: additional considerations

Now that you have an idea of what each platform has to offer you, there are a few more things you should think about before you make your decision.

First, what is the purpose of your advertising campaign? If you’re trying to build community and raise awareness for your brand, Facebook is probably the best choice. If you’re trying to attract more locals to your business, you may want to invest in Google ads to increase your visibility in “near me” searches.

You have to consider what stage of the sales funnel the people who see your ads are at and how that relates to your goal. Are you a mechanic who wants to increase sales by attracting more people to your store? Google ads are probably the way to go, since people looking for these services are usually ready to buy.

Think about the maturity of your product or service and the amount of search volume it can get. Google ads may not help as much if you are promoting a service that no one knows about yet – think of Uber before the car-sharing service was invented.

Final thoughts

Google ads vs Facebook ads – When you’re deciding where to spend your advertising dollars, there’s a lot to consider. Your product or service, your business model, and the best format to sell your product are just a few factors you need to consider.

Regardless of what you choose, make sure you spend your money effectively. If you spend a little more, it will be a good thing if that extra money brings in more people willing to buy from you.

Consider your budget, goals, and target audience when planning your advertising campaign. Experiment with both types of advertising to see which one will best help you reach your campaign’s ultimate goal. You may even decide to use both types of advertising together and in different ways.

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