Should I Use Facebook Or Google Ads For My Business?

facebook ads, google ads, social media advertising, ppc advertising, facebook or google ads

Advertising online nowadays is essential for all businesses and startup business owners know that it’s necessary to be able to successfully break into any market. Using online advertising is valuable for a number of reasons other than getting the immediate sale such as brand awareness and lead generation.

Now a startup’s issue is deciding which of the two biggest online advertising monsters to use first: Facebook or Google Ads. In this post, we’ll see exactly the difference between these two advertising platforms and which one would be best fit for your business with your current advertising goals.

Why Use Facebook Or Google Ads?

Wide Reach

First things first, similarities. Both platforms have an enormous audience however their users act differently on both platforms (which we’ll cover in the Intent section). 

Facebook has a whopping 1.9 billion daily active users and 2.9 billion monthly active users. The most recent census performed by the United Nations estimates the world population at 7.9 billion. That means that 24% of the world uses Facebook on a daily basis and 37% of the population uses it every single month. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs on your ads. 

As for Google, it has about 5.4 billion search queries done per day with an average of 3 to 4 Google searches done per person totaling to around 1.5 billion unique users per day or 19% or the total world population. 

While these numbers may seem low in relation to the world population, it is also important to note that Facebook is banned in countries such as Iran, Syria, North Korea, and most importantly, China, which means that a total of 1.5 billion people cannot access the platform even if they wanted to. Google is also blocked in some way in 25 of the 100 countries they offer their products and the most notable again is China. 

Paid & Unpaid Opportunities

Another similarity is that both these platforms offer both paid and unpaid traffic generation opportunities. The unpaid opportunities are what is referred to as content marketing. On Facebook, you can post content on your business pages or in groups to generate brand authority as well as create your own groups that you can market your services to by providing value. 

On Google, content marketing refers to trying to rank website pages as high as possible on the search engine when users use the search tool. In both cases, the platforms prioritize paid advertising. Facebook’s algorithm is making it harder for businesses’ content to appear on users’ feeds to prioritize posts from friends and families under the pretext of improving user experience and Google much more blatantly simply puts the paid content higher above the organic content on their search engine results pages.

Advantages & Disadvantages Of Both Platforms

There are many differences between both platforms and each of them has their pros and cons. Before making a decision between Facebook or Google Ads, it is important to know exactly what they are so you can use the platform that best fits your needs and advertising preferences. In this next section, we’ll see what the pros and cons are to help you determine which platform is best for your business to get started with.

Facebook Pros

Visual Platform

The first and most noticeable pro is that Facebook is a visual platform (as opposed to Google which is mostly text-based except for their Display Ads). This gives businesses an opportunity to stand out from the crown with attractive visuals that will catch your ideal buyer’s eye. These eye-catching visuals are available in both image and video format, so with a little bit of creativity opportunities are limitless. 

Great ROI

Facebook Ads are very affordable when done properly. A small budget can go a long way.  The average cost per click (CPC) is about $0.44, which can still make a small advertising budget generate some decent traffic to your store. Obviously this will vary from industry to industry. We’ve personally run campaigns in the apparel industry that have run for $0.15 per click whereas B2B services such as ourselves can be as high as $2.52 per click.

A/B Testing

Another great feature that Facebook Ads offers is A/B Testing. That means that you can set up your ads so that Facebook automatically tests 2 (or more) different ads on a certain budget and divert your budget to the ads that are performing the best. While this feature is great so you don’t waste money on ads that aren’t working, it isn’t as good as having a Facebook Ads expert managing your ads and optimizing their delivery.

Micro-Targetting Capabilities

Facebook has an extensive audience targeting system. You can target from countries, states, and cities. You can even target down all the way to an address or coordinates and add a 1 mile radius around it! This is especially great for brick and mortar businesses who are trying to target an audience in a very specific area, but there can be a variety of other uses for it. You can make specialized ads for neighborhoods to make it more likely to grab users’ attention. An ad with a call to action for Little Italy, Tribeca, or Lower Manhattan feels a lot more exclusive than an ad calling out to all of New York.

Facebook Ads, facebook targeting, facebook advantages, facebook or google ads

Facebook Cons

Increasing Cost Per Click

While Facebook Ads do offer a great ROI when done properly, their cost per click is constantly going up over time. This has many implications for business owners, and especially startups, since they don’t have as big a budget to spend on marketing that other well-established companies have. Not only is the budget smaller, but their systems aren’t as efficient and haven’t been fully optimized yet so the amount they can invest to compete with the industry giants is completely blown out of the water. 

Here is how CPC has evolved in the past two years according to an analysis Adespresso by Hootsuite has done:

Facebook Ads CPC, Facebook CPC
Facebook Ads CPC, Facebook CPC

As we can see, the cost is clearly going up with the average yearly CPC increasing by 14%. While these are just a few cents per year, it may render Facebook Ads unprofitable for startups and small businesses with smaller marketing budgets. 

Frustrating Vague & Unclear Policies

Facebook is notorious for banning ad accounts without the account owners understanding why it happened. While the reason they ban accounts is valid (to improve user experience by preventing scams or shady advertising tactics), more often than not, when we hear that someone got banned on Facebook, they have no idea why and they weren’t doing anything wrong. This often leaves business owners stuck and not knowing how to advertise their products or services anymore since they can’t regain access to their ad accounts despite trying their best to comply with Facebook’s policies. 

This is where hiring a Facebook Ad expert to manage your ads can be a lifesaver. With their experience, they’ll know exactly what to do to be compliant with Facebook’s policies because they know what works and what doesn’t. While they do come with a certain fee, it’s better to have peace of mind than stressing out about each and every change you make on your ad account.

High Competition Environment

As we’ve stated in the beginning of this article, all businesses know that they need to advertise online. This means there is a lot of competition on Facebook (as well as Google). With a lot of competition, there is always the risk of being lost in the noise. Standing out is difficult from the competition especially when everyone is trying to use similar strategies to stand out. Using eye-catching color schemes. Attention grabbing headlines. Using emojis. Special offers. Everyone is trying to stand out and show how special they are compared to the rest. The problem is when everyone is special, no one is.

Google Pros

Even Playing Field

Google is great for businesses because it has the added advantage of being accessible and profitable for every business, no matter the budget size. The way it works is that you essentially “rent” the top spot on Google’s search engine results page above the organic results. Combined with the fact that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad, not for every impression, relevance and quality are much more important than budget.

Pay Per Click, Not Per Impression

As mentioned in the previous section, you don’t pay for every impression like you do with Facebook. Instead, you pay for every person who clicks on your ads. This means people who click your ads are more likely to be interested in what you have to sell. For Google, quality is more important than quantity. Attractive and pertinent ads that clearly indicate what the information on this page will contain have a much higher chance of sending traffic that will stay on your page and convert than ads that are misleading, even if done unintentionally, or that are very general. 

While we still consider this an advantage, some highly competitive industries have CPCs as high as $61. These are industries such as insurance, loans, mortgages, and attorneys. Click here for a list of the 10 most expensive keywords on Google.

Target Keywords

Google’s targeting system is mainly focused around keywords. It allows you to tell the search engine what your potential buyers would look up for your product or service and serves up the ad when they do. There are 4 different types of keyword match types:

  1. Broad Match: The widest net you can cast, the keywords don’t have to be in order and there can be synonyms. “Dog collar” could match with “collar for dogs” or “canine collar”.
  2. Broad Match Modified: Similar to Broad Match but all the keywords must be in the search query.
  3. Phrase Match: The search queries need to have the exact phrase you specified in the same order but typos are accepted. “Dog collar” could match for “dog colar” but not “collar for dogs”
  4. Exact Match: Similar to Phrase Match but typos are not accepted.  

Google also has this neat feature that allows you to use negative keywords. This means that you can look at all the search queries your ad appeared for and if you notice that your ads are appearing for a search query that has nothing to do with your product or service, you can add the negative keyword to prevent it from showing up for these searches in the future. For example, “dogs” could potentially match with “hot dogs” so you add the negative keyword “hot” so it doesn’t happen. 

Intent

As opposed to Facebook, who shows your ads to people who have previously displayed an interest on a certain topic, Google Ads shows your ads to people who are actively looking for your keywords. For example, if you are advertising your services or expensive products such as snowboards, Google will only show your ads to people who are looking up the keyword “snowboards near me” or “buy snowboard” because these are the keywords that you’ve given your ads. On the other hand, you have Facebook, who would show your ads to someone who has clicked on a link about snowboards a few hours, days, or weeks before but is not actively looking to purchase one. 

There are 4 main keyword intent categories:

  1. Transactional: Users looking to make a purchase now.
  2. Commercial: Users investigating a brand or a service. Likely future buyers.
  3. Informational: Users looking for information on a certain subject. Not necessarily looking to buy anything any time soon (if at all).
  4. Navigational: Users looking for a specific page. 

Different keywords have different intent. For example, “dog groomers near me” displays Transactional intent whereas “what is a dog groomer” displays Informational intent. As a business owner, you want to use keywords that are Transactional and Commercial.

To learn more about keywords and keyword research, you can see this article that explains exactly why and how to do it.

Google Cons

Banner Blindness

Also known as “Ad Blindness”, this phenomenon is when users are so used to seeing ads that they simply ignore them and don’t look at them. This image will clearly demonstrate exactly what the phenomenon is:

This is pervasive in both Google and Facebook (as well as most other ad platforms) but Google has a long withstanding relationship with this phenomenon and are consistently working to fix it. They are doing this by making the ads look more natural and less noticeable within the search engine results page. Here is their progression over time:

google ads

Big yellow “Ad” sign made it clear that they were ads.

google ads

Google changed the word “Ad” to green so it would blend in with the link color.

google ads

Now the word “Ad” is simply written in standard text.

While it is still easy to make the distinction between what is an ad and what is not, this is something they are constantly improving and who knows how they will change it in the future. 

Can't Segment Properly

Compared to Facebook’s micro-targeted audience capabilities, Google has limited ways to segment their audiences. They can only be segmented by country and browser language. While the deciding factor on who sees the ads are the keywords that are in the search queries, additional control over who your ads are displayed to wouldn’t hurt.

You Need The Manpower

While anybody can run Google Ads and getting started with your first campaign is a fairly quick process, a certain time commitment is required for your ads to reach their full potential. The Google universe consists of an extensive set of tools that also require setup from the Google Search Console to Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager to Google My Business, there is a steep learning curve to use all these Google products properly that might result in loss of revenue. 

Even once the setup is done, maintenance may have to be done several times a week depending on your click rate. Maintenance includes:

  • Regularly reviewing and excluding keywords.
  • Analyzing the results you receive from the parameters you have set to measure them. 
  • Editing and even recreating your campaigns when necessary. 

Having a seasoned professional do it for you will help maximize your profits from the beginning, which is the time when every dollar counts the most. While we put this in the Google Ads section, this is decidedly true for Facebook Ads as well. While anyone can run Facebook Ads, there is a lot of lost potential revenue for businesses getting started with online advertising because they decide to do it themselves.

Facebook Or Google Ads: The Deciding Factors

Now that we have an idea of the advantages and disadvantages of each platform, let’s see what the actual deciding factors are to choose between Facebook Ads or Google Ads.

What Is Your Goal?

Facebook Ads is great for building email lists, generating leads, and attracting business prospects. It’s best for creating brand awareness and reaching customers at the start of their buying journey.

Google Ads is great for generating sales. It’s best for reaching people who are ready to buy and those who know what they’re looking for.

What Are You Selling?

If you are selling small products, subscriptions, or services that aren’t expensive, Facebook Ads is still a great option for you despite reaching out to a cold audience because people are willing to impulse buy for inexpensive products. It is especially good if the product you are selling can create an emotional reaction by either solving a pain point (e.g. massage gadget to relieve back pain) or being cute (e.g. cute clothing for their dog). 

If you are selling more expensive products, subscriptions, or services, Google Ads is your best bet. People aren’t likely to drop hundreds of dollars on an impulse buy or on something that doesn’t create an emotional response (sorry, plumbers, most people aren’t as passionate about it as you are). People like to research and comparison shop before dropping big sums of money on a product or service.

What Is Your Preferred Ad Format?

If you want to create beautifully designed and attractive ads, Facebook Ads is the best choice and will let you flex those creativity muscles.

If you have no interest in graphic design and simply want to create text-based ads, Google Ads is the best choice for you.

Who Do You Want To See Your Ads?

Facebook will place your ads in front of users based on their preferences and things they’ve displayed interest in. They may not actively be looking for your product or service. 

Google will place your ads in front of users who are actively searching for your keywords. These users are actively looking for your product or service. Keyword intent is important here.

What Is Your Budget?

Facebook Ads can stretch a budget a long way for just about every industry. 

Google Ads has some keywords with high CPCs. If you are advertising at $100 per day with a CPC of $50 like in some of the more expensive industries seen above, that would only be 2 visits to your website. 2 visitors a day is not optimal to drive sales.

The Choice Is Yours

Ultimately, your business can get results with both Facebook or Google Ads. Once you’ve gone through everything in this article and considered their pros and cons and the deciding factors, choose whichever platform you feel the most comfortable with. Nothing is stopping you from testing both platforms and diverting your budget to the one that works best for your business and your style of advertising.

Looking For Help With Facebook Or Google Ads?

If you want to start advertising online but don’t want to do it yourself for a variety of possible reasons:

  • You don’t have the time to learn how to do it
  • You don’t know how to do it
  • You want to maximize results and skip the learning curve

You can always outsource the process and have marketing experts take this daunting task off your hands and remove this weight from your already burdened shoulders as a business owner.

To see our Facebook Ads Management service page, click here.

To see our Google Ads Management service page, click here.

If you still want help to decide which advertising platform is the best fit for you, you can schedule a call with one of our marketing advisors here

We hope this article helped you decide which advertising platform was the best for your business. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions.

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