As a small business owner, the world of online advertising can sometimes feel like a complex maze. Like trying to make decisions around Facebook Ads vs Google Ads, when you don’t fully understand both platforms. 

“Should I use Facebook Ads or would Google Ads be better for my business?” This (or a variation of this question) is something I get asked regularly. So I thought it was best to answer this question in a blog post for all to see. And so that I don’t have to keep repeating myself. 😉

The two giants of the advertising world, Facebook Ads and Google Ads, each offer unique benefits and drawbacks, making it challenging to pick a winner for all businesses. However, there are some key things to consider that will make it easier for you to be able to decide which is best for your business.

Facebook Ads vs Google Ads

First things first… The platform that is going to be best for your business is the one that provides the best possible results for your business, based on your goals.

The Importance of Business Goals in Choosing an Advertising Platform

Before embarking on any digital advertising campaign, it’s essential to clearly define your goals are. Why? Because different platforms are inherently better suited for achieving different objectives. Without a clear sense of what you’re aiming to accomplish, you might end up using a platform that doesn’t align with your needs, wasting valuable resources in the process.

Deciding on Goals: A Crucial First Step

The goals you establish for your business provide a framework for all your marketing efforts. These objectives guide the direction of your campaigns, influence your choice of platform, and determine your advertising budget, target audience, and more.

Examples of Goals and the Best-Fit Advertising Platform

To give you a clearer idea, here are some examples of typical business goals and the advertising platform that may be most suitable:

  • Increasing Brand Awareness: If your aim is to reach a broader audience and create a recognisable brand, Facebook Ads would be a great choice. Facebook’s extensive targeting options, combined with its ability to host engaging, visual content (like videos and image carousels), can help generate buzz and increase visibility within new audiences.
  • Boosting Website Traffic: Both Google and Facebook Ads can achieve this goal, but it depends on the nature of the traffic you seek. If you want to attract people actively searching for your products or services, Google Ads is a fantastic option. On the other hand, if you’re aiming to reach people based on their interests and behaviours, even if they haven’t searched for your products or services (particularly if it’s thought leadership content like a blog post that you’re looking to share), Facebook Ads may be a better fit.
  • Driving Immediate Sales: For businesses that want to drive direct sales from people with high buyer intent, Google Ads can be more effective. Users searching for specific products or services on Google are often closer to making a purchase, making them prime targets if your objective is to increase sales. If you’re looking to use Facebook Ads for this purpose, then make sure you’re targeting warm or hot audiences, such as those people who have visited your website or sales page, but not purchased yet.
  • Customer Retention: Facebook Ads excels in retargeting capabilities, allowing you to keep your brand in front of users who have already expressed interest. By retargeting ads to users who have previously interacted with your business, visited your website or provided you with other contact details for marketing purposes, you can maintain their interest and increase the chance of repeat business.
  • Market Expansion: If you’re looking to find new customers similar to your best existing customers, Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences can help identify potential customers who share similar characteristics with your current audience.

The Ultimate Goal: Conversion Rates

Regardless of the platform you choose, be it Google Ads or Facebook Ads, it’s important to remember that the true measure of a campaign’s success lies in its conversion rate. The conversion rate is an essential metric as it tells you the percentage of your total ad clicks that result in a desired action, such as a sale, a signup, or a form submission. The higher your conversion rate, the better your ROI will be.

Also, always remember that to boost your conversion rate, you need to optimise all aspects of your ad campaign, not just the ads themselves. So make sure that your ad content aligns with the messaging on the landing page your ad is driving traffic to and ensure that this page is also optimised for conversions. Check out The Anatomy of a High-Converting Sales Page for tips on how to achieve this. 

Audience Targeting: The Key to Successful Advertising

Knowing who your audience is can be just as important as knowing what your business goals are. After all, the most beautifully crafted ad campaign will fall flat if it’s not reaching the right people.

The Importance of Knowing Your Audience

Understanding your audience (their demographics, interests, behaviours, needs, and wants) allows you to craft a highly targeted advertising strategy. Different advertising platforms offer varying degrees of audience targeting options, and selecting the right platform can significantly enhance the effectiveness of your campaign.

With accurate audience targeting, you can increase your return on investment by reaching the right people with the right message at the right time. Consequently, knowing who you are targeting before deciding on an advertising platform is vital for the success of your campaign.

Examples of Audience Types and the Best-Fit Advertising Platform

Here are a few examples of typical audience types and which platform may be most suitable for targeting them:

  • Audiences Based on Demographics and Interests: Facebook Ads excel in this area. Their platform allows advertisers to target audiences based on a wide range of demographics (like age, gender, and location), as well as interests and behaviours. This is ideal if you’re trying to reach a specific demographic or individuals with certain interests. For example, if you’re a local boutique targeting women aged 20-35 who are interested in sustainable fashion, you can find them easily with Facebook Ads.
  • Audiences Based on Search Intent: Google Ads is particularly strong for targeting audiences based on search intent, meaning what users are actively looking for. This is great for businesses offering a product or service that people would typically search for on Google. For instance, a local plumbing service might use Google Ads to reach people who are actively searching for plumbers in their area.
  • Retargeting Audiences: Facebook Ads shine when it comes to retargeting. This involves showing ads to individuals who have already interacted with your business in some way. For example, a business might use Facebook Ads to retarget website visitors that didn’t make a purchase, encouraging them to revisit and complete their transaction.
  • Local Audiences: Both Google and Facebook Ads have strong location targeting capabilities. Google Ads can be particularly effective for businesses that want to reach people who are actively searching for local services, such as restaurants or hair salons. On the other hand, a local business looking to increase brand awareness within their community might find success with Facebook’s location-targeted ads combined with its demographic and interest targeting options.
  • Broad Audiences: If your product or service appeals to a broad audience and you want to generate brand awareness, Facebook Ads can be highly effective. Its diverse user base and extensive targeting options allow you to reach a wide range of people.

Understanding Google Ads: Active Searchers, Keyword Power & Different Placements

At its core, Google Ads is a search engine marketing platform. What this means is that it is primarily geared towards targeting users who are actively searching for a product or service like yours.

When users type in a keyword that matches those in your ad campaign, your ads can appear in their search results. This can lead to higher conversion rates, particularly if the keywords you are targeting have high buyer intent – meaning users are looking to make a purchase rather than just browsing.

This makes Google Ads a fantastic option for businesses that have a clear idea of what their potential customers are searching for online. However, its Achilles’ heel lies in its inability to effectively reach audiences that are not actively seeking your products or services.

Another potential drawback is that Google Ads can be expensive, particularly if the competition for the keywords you wish to target is high. This will depend on your specific industry or niche.

Keyword Research for Google Search Ads

Keyword research is a crucial step that is often overlooked when setting up a Google Search Ads campaign. Keyword research allows you to:

  • Understanding User Intent – Keyword research allows you to understand the terms your target audience uses when they’re searching for your product or service. By understanding their language, you can better tailor your ads to resonate with them.
  • Discovering High Volume and Low Competition Keywords – With the right tools and approach, keyword research can help you identify high search volume keywords that have lower competition. This means you can potentially get more visibility for less money.
  • Forecasting Potential Returns – Effective keyword research can provide insights into the potential return on investment (ROI) of your campaign. It gives you an idea of the search volume, competition, and potential costs before you start investing your budget, allowing for more accurate forecasting.
  • Refining Ad Group Structure – Your ad groups should be built around tight-knit keyword themes. Researching your keywords prior to building your campaign will help you design a more organised, efficient, and effective ad group structure.

You can use simple free tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest and Answer The Public to help determine which keywords would be best for you to target for your business. 

Google Ad Formats and Placements

Google Ads offers a variety of ad formats and placements (as outlined below), giving you the flexibility to choose the one that suits your business needs best:

  • Text Ads – Google text ads are simple, text-based advertisements that appear on Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) when users search for keywords related to your business.
  • Display Ads – Google display ads are visually engaging ads that appear on Google’s Display Network, which includes over two million websites, videos, and apps, allowing your business to reach potential customers across the internet.
  • Shopping Ads – Google Shopping ads are product-based advertisements that appear in Google’s shopping tab, showcasing detailed product information such as images, prices, and business names, to users who are actively shopping online.
  • Video Ads – Google video ads are compelling video-based advertisements that can be shown across YouTube and other sites on Google’s Display Network, providing a dynamic and engaging way to connect with your audience.

Exploring Facebook Ads

While Google Ads is search-based, Facebook Ads are different, they’re all about the people. The social media giant boasts a wealth of data on its users, from demographic information to interests and behaviours, which can be utilised to target specific audiences.

Leveraging Deomgraphics, Interests and Behaviours

Facebook Ads truly shines in its retargeting capabilities. If someone has previously engaged with your business, visited your website or you have their contact details, you can target them with tailored ads, nurturing a deeper connection.

Furthermore, Facebook’s “lookalike audiences” feature allows you to find and target people who are similar to those you already have a rapport with, such as email subscribers or page followers. This can be a game changer for getting your products or services in front of new audiences.

Facebook Ads is ideal for businesses looking to build brand awareness or promote products to a wider audience. It’s also particularly effective at generating impulse purchases, especially if you’re selling low-cost products and create compelling ad content to captivate potential customers.

Understanding Ad Placements

The platform provides a range of ad formats and placements, allowing for creative and engaging campaigns. Ad formats and placements include:

  • Image Ads – These are simple, static graphic advertisements that can be placed in various locations across Facebook and Instagram, designed to catch the viewer’s attention and generate interest in your product or service.
  • Video Ads – These are dynamic ads that use video to tell a story or showcase a product or service in a more engaging manner, which can be placed in Facebook’s newsfeed, Stories, or as in-stream ads within other videos.
  • Carousel Ads – Carousel Ads allow you to showcase up to 10 images or videos in a single ad, each with its own link, providing a multi-dimensional platform for businesses to tell their story or display multiple products at once.
  • Slideshow Ads – These are lightweight video-like ads that use a series of still images (either yours or stock images provided by Facebook), text, and sound to create an easy-to-digest narrative for your audience.
  • Collection Ads – Collection Ads provide a visual and immersive shopping experience for customers by combining videos, slideshows, or images with product catalogs, displayed directly in the Facebook feed.
  • Lead Generation Ads – These are ads that provide a mechanism for collecting user information, such as email addresses, through a built-in form directly within the ad, ideal for newsletter sign-ups or event registrations.
  • Dynamic Ads – Dynamic Ads automatically promote your products to people who have expressed interest on your website, in your app, or elsewhere on the internet, providing a personalised advertising experience.
  • Messenger Ads – These are ads that appear in the Facebook Messenger app, enabling direct, real-time communication with potential customers.
  • Stories Ads – Stories Ads are immersive, full-screen ads that appear in users’ Stories on Facebook and Instagram, designed to create a highly engaging user experience.
  • In-Stream Video Ads – These ads appear as short videos in the middle of longer video content, allowing businesses to reach an engaged audience while they’re most focused.
  • Instant Experience Ads – Formerly known as Canvas, Instant Experience ads are full-screen, mobile-optimised ads that load almost instantly and provide an immersive experience for customers to interact with your content.
  • Augmented Reality (AR) Ads – AR Ads offer an interactive experience by allowing users to virtually try products or experience certain aspects of the service, all within the Facebook platform.

Facebook Ad Placements

Facebook Ads offers a variety of ad placements across the Meta family of apps and services, allowing businesses to reach users where they’re most engaged. Here are some of the most common placements:

  • Facebook News Feed – These ads appear directly in the main feed of a user when they’re scrolling through Facebook, typically featuring an image, video, or carousel, along with text, a link, and a call-to-action button.
  • Facebook Right Column – These are smaller ads that appear in the right-hand column of the Facebook interface on desktop view. They’re generally less expensive than news feed placements, but also typically have lower engagement rates.
  • Facebook Marketplace – Ads in the Marketplace appear within the Facebook Marketplace home page or when someone is browsing Marketplace in the Facebook app, helping businesses reach users who are in a shopping mindset.
  • Facebook Video Feeds – These ads appear between organic videos in video-only environments, like Facebook Watch and the videos tab on Facebook’s mobile app.
  • Facebook Stories – Story ads are full-screen vertical ads that appear between Facebook Stories, a feature that allows users to share photos and short videos that disappear after 24 hours.
  • Instagram Feed – Similar to Facebook News Feed ads, these appear directly in the main feed of a user when they’re scrolling through Instagram.
  • Instagram Explore – These ads appear in the browsing experience once a person clicks on a photo or video from Explore, which is a space for users to discover new content that aligns with their interests.
  • Instagram Stories – Like Facebook Stories, these are full-screen vertical ads that appear between Instagram Stories.
  • Messenger Inbox – These ads appear in the home tab of Messenger, allowing businesses to reach the 1.3 billion people around the world who use Messenger each month.
  • Messenger Stories – These are full-screen vertical ads that appear between stories on Messenger.
  • Audience Network – Facebook’s Audience Network extends your ads beyond Facebook to reach your audience on mobile apps, mobile websites, Instant Articles, and videos. Ads in the Audience Network can appear as native, banner, interstitial, rewarded video and in-stream video ads. You can also choose to exclude some audience network placements if they are not aligned with your brand.

Selecting the right ad placement is crucial for the success of your campaign, and it largely depends on your audience’s behaviour, the goal of your campaign, and the nature of your ads. Experimenting with different placements can help you understand what works best for your specific business needs.

Budget Considerations in Choosing Between Facebook Ads and Google Ads

When planning your advertising strategy, your budget is a fundamental factor that can significantly influence the platform you choose to utilise. Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads operate on a bidding system, but the cost and returns can differ substantially between these platforms based on your industry, target audience, and advertising goals.

Budgeting for Google Ads

Google Ads, particularly Google Search Ads, can sometimes seem more expensive on face value than Facebook Ads. This is due to the high competition for keywords, especially those with high commercial intent. If you’re in a competitive industry where many businesses are bidding on the same keywords, the cost-per-click (CPC) can get quite high.

However, the higher cost can be justified by the fact that users on Google are often actively searching for a product or service, leading to higher intent and potentially higher conversion rates. For businesses with a substantial budget looking to reach users with high purchase intent, Google Ads may be a worthwhile investment.

Budgeting for Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads, on the other hand, often have a lower CPC compared to Google Ads, making them an attractive choice for businesses with a smaller budget. Facebook also has robust targeting options that allow you to reach a specific audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviours, which can help to make your ad spend more efficient.

However, Facebook users are typically in a browsing mindset rather than actively seeking to make a purchase. As a result, while Facebook may offer more impressions for a lower cost, the conversion rate might be lower compared to Google Ads.

Balancing Budget and Objectives

Your decision should also consider the specific goals of your campaign. If your objective is broad brand awareness or engagement among a specific demographic, the lower cost and detailed targeting options of Facebook may be advantageous, allowing you to reach more people within your budget.

On the other hand, if your objective is to drive sales or leads from people actively seeking your product or service, the potentially higher cost of Google Ads may be a worthwhile investment, providing you with more qualified leads and potentially a higher return on investment.

Combining Google and Facebook Ads: The Best of Both Worlds?

While Google Ads and Facebook Ads have their individual merits, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, for many businesses, using both platforms in tandem can be an incredibly effective strategy to maximise reach and conversions.

For instance, Google Ads could be used to attract customers who are actively searching for products or services like yours, while Facebook Ads could be leveraged to nurture these potential customers, build your brand awareness, and retarget interested parties.

In essence, choosing between Google and Facebook Ads depends largely on your business goals, audience targeting, creative requirements and budget. If you aim to reach people who are actively seeking your products or services, Google Ads might be your best bet. If you’re looking to build brand awareness, promote your offerings to a broader audience, or retarget your current audience, then Facebook Ads might be the way to go.

However, using both platforms can ensure you cover all bases, from reaching interested searchers to nurturing and retargeting potential customers. Just remember to monitor your campaigns closely, adjust as necessary, and ensure your advertising efforts always align with your business goals and budget.

“Google Ads catches them when they’re searching, Facebook Ads catches them before they start.” – Anonymous

Knowledge Is Power

It’s not enough to just know which platform (or platforms) is best for your business. Understanding how your chosen platform(s) work, how to target your audience effectively, and how to optimise your ad spend are all critical components of running successful campaigns. This knowledge allows you to make informed decisions, test different approaches, and continually improve your strategies.

You can learn how to do this yourself via the Click Engage Convert Academy or enlist the help of Impactiv8 to set up, manage and optimise your Facebook Ads and/or Google Ad campaigns. If this is something you are interested in, contact us to discuss this further. By outsourcing to the team at Impactiv8 you can leverage our knowledge and expertise, freeing up your time to focus on other areas of your business.

Regardless of whether you acquire the knowledge yourself or enlist the help of experts, it’s crucial to ensure your digital advertising is guided by a deep understanding of these platforms.

Do you want to achieve great Digital Marketing results FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

We have several options to help. You can learn how to do it yourself in the Click Engage Convert Academy, be coached one-on-one by our experts or just get the team at Impactive8 to do it for you. 


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