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Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: The Ultimate Guide for 2023

By Jack Kirkland 9 November, 2022, 11 mins read

Facebook and Google. Two internet giants. One is the largest social network in the world and the other is the largest search engine. 

Both have enormous reach and allow you to reach people you wouldn’t otherwise. Both offer powerful advertising options for businesses of every size.

If you want to grow your business through PPC advertising, both are solid options. So which should you choose?

As a marketing agency that spends over $10,000,000 running ads on both for clients each month, we’ve got the answers. Below, we’ll explore the benefits, costs, and unique opportunities in Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads.

Let’s start with…

What is the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads?

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There are a number of key differences between the Facebook advertising platform and Google’s ad platform. Let’s look at some of the biggest.

1. Targeting

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With Google Ads, you target people based on what they’re looking for. For example, if someone is looking for “white sports socks”, you can show them ads for white sports socks.

In other words, Google Ads use intent-based targeting.

Facebook Ads targets people based on past behaviour and interests. For example, if someone browses Fashion websites and groups a lot, you can show them ads for shoes and pants.

In other words, Facebook ads use interest-based targeting.

The two are similar – but a little different. Facebook’s targeting helps you find more people who are interested in your offer. Google finds fewer people and costs more; the benefit is that Google’s users are more likely to buy quickly.

2. Your Campaign Goal

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Your campaign goals are an important factor when it comes to choosing between Facebook ads versus Google ads. Google ads are very effective for reaching prospects who are toward the bottom of the funnel and ready to purchase. If a consumer searches for “size 11 Nike blazers” they’re telling Google that they are ready to buy. You can target these types of searches with your Google ads and have a high chance of conversion.

Facebook ads, on the other hand, tend to be better suited for building awareness and consideration. Users are not typically searching with purchase intent. They may be scrolling through their newsfeed, looking at cat videos, and checking up on friends. This doesn’t mean that Facebook ads can’t be effective for conversions. But they’re better suited to the top and middle of the funnel where you’re trying to introduce your product/service to a new audience.

To be clear, you can target your ideal customer at every stage of the funnel with both Facebook and Google ads. But your marketing goals will probably dictate which platform is the best for you.

3. Your Budget

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Budget also plays a big role in the difference between Facebook and Google ads. With Google, you have to carefully look at how much competition there is for a keyword, the search volume, and what the expected Cost-Per-Click (CPC) is. If you have a small budget, it might be difficult to reach many people with a Google ads campaign.

Using that same budget, you may be able to run a Facebook ad campaign that would reach a broader audience. Or you may be able to run multiple campaigns and test different variables to see which connects most effectively with your audience.

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Generally speaking, you can use Facebook ads effectively with a budget of less than $50/day. With Google, it’s harder to find success unless your budget is at least $50/day. Neither channel is an immediate, quick solution. Both require ongoing management, either internally or outsourced to an agency or freelancer.

4. Stages in the Buyer’s Journey

The target audience stage in the customer journey is another key difference when it comes to choosing Facebook or Google ads. Most users on Facebook are not in a purchase mentality. Facebook ads are very effective at helping new prospects find your brand.

Google users, on the other hand, are typically further along in the buyer’s journey. While Google searches can certainly happen anywhere in the buyer’s journey, users are often searching for something specific and have an intent to purchase. So if you’re looking to target prospects who are ready to buy, Google ads are probably your best option.

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Benefits of Google Ads

Now let’s look at some of the specific benefits that come with Google ads.

1. Huge Reach

Google is the most used search engine in the world by a huge margin. More than 40,000 search queries happen every second, adding up to more than 1.2 trillion in a given year. No matter who you’re targeting, you can be sure that they’re using Google as part of the research and buying process.

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Google ads also appear on millions of websites across the web, thanks to their display network. So even if someone isn’t directly searching on Google, they may still come across your ad.

2. Exact Keyword Targeting

One of the benefits of Google ads is that you can be very specific with who sees your ad. You’re targeting people based on the specific relevant keywords they use in a search. So if you sell running shoes, you can target people who are searching for “running shoes” or “women’s running shoes” or any other variation.

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You can also exclude certain keywords so that your ad doesn’t show up to people who aren’t relevant to your business. For example, if you sell women’s running shoes, you may want to exclude the keyword “men’s” so that your ad doesn’t show up to men who are searching for men’s running shoes.

3. Ads Appear When People Are ready to Buy

Another great thing about Google search ads is that they appear when people are ready to buy. If someone is searching for “running shoes,” they’re likely in the market for a new pair. They may not be ready to purchase right away, but they’re further along in the buyer’s journey than someone who’s just scrolling through Facebook.

This doesn’t mean that Facebook ads can’t be effective at driving sales. But if you’re looking to target people who are closer to the bottom of the funnel, Google ads are a better option.

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4. Equal Audience Access

Google wants its ads to be as relevant to users as possible. They reward advertisers who create high-quality, relevant ads that are aligned with search intent. Even if another advertiser has a higher budget, you may still be able to reach the same amount of people if the quality of your ads is better.

5. Multiple Ad Formats

Google Search offers a variety of ad formats, giving you the ability to experiment and find the best way to reach your target audience. The most common Google ad format is search ads, which appear at the top of the search results page when someone enters a relevant query. But there are also display ads, video ads, etc.

There are also additional features you can take advantage of, such as:

  • Displaying user reviews
  • Business information
  • Contact information
  • Internal website links
  • And more.

This allows you to create ads that are most likely to catch the attention of potential customers.

Benefits of Facebook Ads

Now let’s look at some of the benefits that come with using Facebook ads.

1. Highly Granular Audiences

Just like Google, Facebook has an enormous user base, with more than 1.5 billion active users. And yet the Facebook social media platform allows advertisers to be highly granular in their targeting. You can target people by interests, demographics, behaviours, and even custom audiences.

This level of targeting ensures that your ads are being seen by the people most likely to be interested in what you’re selling. And it allows you to avoid wasting money on ads that are shown to people who will never convert.

People share everything on Facebook. Their likes and dislikes, interests, passions, and so much more. This gives advertisers a huge amount of data that they can use to create highly effective campaigns.

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2. Highly Visual Platform

Generally speaking, Facebook ads are much more visually engaging than Google ads. The ads blend seamlessly with the rest of the platform, looking almost exactly the same as everything in the newsfeed. This gives you the opportunity to create pattern interrupts, where you grab the attention of potential users.

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And the good news is that with the explosion of user-friendly image design platforms, such as Canva, it’s easier than ever to create visually appealing advertisements that will catch the eyes of potential customers.

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3. Significant ROI

Similar to Google, Facebook ad campaigns are highly affordable while also producing a significant ROI when done right. Though it varies by industry, the average conversion rate for Facebook ads is 9.11% the board. And the average cost per acquisition (CPA) is only $19.68 across all industries.

Given how specifically you can target your ideal audience, even small businesses with a limited budget can find internet marketing success with Facebook ads. With the right messaging, creative, and targeting, businesses can find new audiences, generate leads, and even generate conversions for a relatively low average cost.

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When should you use Google ads?

So, when should you use Google ads?

1. You’re Targeting Prospects With Purchase Intent

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Google ads are a great choice when you’re targeting people who are actively searching for the products or services that you offer. These people are already interested in what you have to say and are more likely to convert into paying customers. Unlike Facebook, where you’re targeting by user interests, Google ads allow you to target the keywords that most closely match what people are actually searching for.

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2. You Aren’t Clear On The Makeup Of Your Audience

With Google ads, you don’t need to know all of your audience’s interests in order to run campaigns. Rather, you can run them based on specific keywords that you know are associated with purchasing. This can be especially helpful if you’re targeting a new audience or one that you’re not overly familiar with.

3. You’re Focusing On Conversions

Google ads give you the ability to target keywords that you know are associated with conversions. This is a great way to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your ad budget and that you’re targeting people who are actually interested in what you have to say. Rather than targeting a specific interest and hoping that that audience will want to purchase your product, you can target those who clearly show an interest in what you’re offering.

4. You’re Looking For Immediate Results

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Google ads tend to produce conversions much faster than Facebook ads since you’re targeting people who are already interested in what you have to say and are actively searching for it. While you can certainly see results with Facebook ads, they typically take a bit longer to generate. This is because you’re targeting people based on interests, rather than based on keywords that are directly related to your product.

When should you use Facebook ads?

Now let’s look at some of the situations where it might make more sense to choose Facebook ads over Google ads.

1. You’re Trying To Increase Brand Awareness

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When someone uses Facebook, they’re in a much more exploratory frame of mind. They’re not actively searching for something, but they are open to new information and experiences. This makes Facebook the perfect you’re looking to increase brand awareness or reach a new audience. Then, once you’ve found new audiences, you can use retargeting and lookalike audiences to engage with them further down the sales funnel.

2. You Have A Long Sales Cycle

If you have a product with a long sales cycle, such as a piece of expensive jewellery or a vacation package, Facebook ads can be a great way to keep your brand top-of-mind. Since people typically don’t make these types of purchases on impulse, you need to keep your brand in front of them over an extended period of time. Facebook allows you to do this without being overly intrusive or feeling like you’re constantly bombarding people with ads.

3. You’re Trying To Build A Community

Facebook is all about community building. If you’re looking to create a community around your brand, then Facebook ads are a great way to reach new people and get them involved. You can use ads to promote your group or page, as well as to drive traffic to your website or blog content.

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4. You Want Granular, Interest Targeting

As we mentioned before, one of the main advantages of Facebook ads is the ability to target people based on their interests. This allows you to get very granular with your targeting and ensures that you’re only reaching people who are actually interested in what you have to say. You can also use retargeting and lookalike audiences to further refine your targeting.

5. You Need To Be Cost Effective

Facebook ads can be more cost-effective than Google ads, especially if you’re just starting out. This is because Facebook’s ad platform is very effective at finding the right people to target, and you don’t have to pay for clicks that don’t lead to conversions. In addition, Facebook’s ad prices tend to be lower than those of Google.

Google vs. Facebook Ads

Choosing between Google and Facebook ads can seem complicated, but it’s not really when you boil things down. Ultimately, it comes down to whether you want to target keywords or interests. Google’s primary advantage is that you can target keywords associated with conversions. The downside, of course, is that sometimes these keywords can be rather expensive, requiring a larger daily budget than Facebook.

Facebook’s primary advantage is that you can target audiences who have demonstrated an interest in the types of products and services you sell. You can use this to build brand awareness and find new audiences you wouldn’t be able to otherwise.

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Still not sure? You don’t have to choose! We’ll choose for you based on our experience spending over $10m AUD each month in client ad spend.

Sign up today for a free consultation that’s worth more than $1,200!

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