Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: A Digital Marketing Agency’s Perspective

If you’re planning to do any digital marketing in 2021, the two main platform choices with the most traffic are Google Ads and Facebook Ads. It’s important to know the differences between them so you can decide which one (if not both) is the best fit for your business.

To advertise on Google and Facebook, both platforms offer ad auctions behind the scenes. This means competing with other businesses to get your ads displayed. This underscores the importance of creating strong ads and a well-aligned landing page experience. This will make your ads less expensive, and you’ll win more often in ad auctions against your competitors.

Listed below are the strengths and weaknesses of each platform.

Google Ads: Platform Strengths

  • When searching on Google, people typically already have buyer intent, so they’re further along in the sales cycle than they typically are on social media. This means there is a higher likelihood of converting their activity into sales. People who are interrupted by ads on social media are less likely to buy from you because they aren’t seeking you out and aren’t nearly as ready to buy something. It has an e-commerce platform called Google Shopping, which features an image of your product when people search for your product’s key phrases. It can also feature current promotions for your product.
  • Launching a Google Search ad campaign can be fairly quick because visuals and long copy aren’t necessary.
  • It provides the ability to advertise your business to people searching for your competitors’ names and key phrases.
  • If your product or service is fascinating and converts well into video format, you can use YouTube ads to interrupt users watching videos in the same category as your company’s (e.g., automotive, art, bikes, etc.).
  • With the amount of metrics provided in the Google Ads platform, you can determine if your campaigns are working within a couple of weeks, and you can determine what you need to change or adjust if they’re not working.
  • You can narrow your audience by using audience targeting. If you know your audience, or once you learn about your audience, you can target them specifically to increase your return on investment (ROI).
  • Using Google Ads can give you the opportunity to get to the top of page one on Google search results, where people focus most when reviewing the best options.

Google Ads: Platform Weaknesses

If your product or service has low (or no) search volumes each month according to your keyword research, it will be nearly impossible to run text-based ads on Google Search.

  • Since Google’s platform is more mature than Facebook’s, the cost per click tends to be higher compared to the cost on social media.
  • If you’re not working with a Google Ads specialist (or a Google Partner, if possible), it’s easy to burn through a lot of ad spending if you don’t know what you’re doing. Hire a Google Ads services professional if you’re new to the platform. It’s best to avoid the Google Ads mistakes we’ve encountered when people have self-managed their ads.
  • Targeting keywords that are too broad to people who don’t have buyer intent is a fast way to waste your ad spending because it means investing in website visits that don’t result in sales.
  • The platform includes Google Display ads as an ad delivery option. Although these can be effective for branding and awareness, we don’t typically recommend them for small businesses unless they wish to use them for remarketing purposes. 

Facebook and Instagram Ads: Platform Strengths

  • It provides the ability to interrupt people with ads while they’re scrolling through their Facebook and Instagram feeds to introduce your product or service even if your business has no existing search volumes (i.e., no one is searching for it).
  • Since Facebook is a newer ad platform than Google Ads, your advertising spending such as cost per click might be less in comparison.
  • The platform is an excellent way to retarget people after they have recently visited your website. You can do this with an ad catered to the content they viewed on your webpages (i.e., behavioural retargeting).
  • With the incredible targeting options on Facebook, you can target people based on their general interests, their marital status, pages they like, your biggest competitors, and even a layer combination. For example, you can target single people interested in yoga as a layered audience.
  • Lookalike audience targeting is a way to find people on Facebook and Instagram who are similar to your customers based on many data points, including demographics, psychographics, geographic location, and more. Facebook doesn’t disclose all the data points, but targeting lookalike audiences is a great way to reach potential prospects.
  • Social media ads on Facebook and Instagram offer plenty of delivery methods via their main feeds, stories, messaging services, video suggestions, and more.
  • You can create a unique retargeting strategy and place ads in front of people sequentially, starting with the date of their last visit to your site.
  • Your social media retargeting strategy can also be triggered by other behaviours such as post engagement, ad engagement, specific webpage visits, percentage of on-platform video watched, on-platform event listing engagement, etc.

Facebook and Instagram Ads: Platform Weaknesses

  • Since this platform relies purely on advertising that interrupts people when they’re scrolling through their newsfeeds, strategies and copywriting for social media requires a lot of finesse. Your social media copy needs a subtle approach, and using direct response copy from Google Search ads is a common way to create ads that don’t perform well. We’ve seen some exceptions, but sharing copy between Google Search and Facebook generally isn’t a good approach.
  • If your audience is too small, you can run into ad frequency issues. This means people might get frustrated by repeatedly seeing your ads.
  • Some businesses simply cannot advertise on Facebook due to the ad policies and guidelines. For example, small businesses that sell cannabis products are not yet able to advertise on Facebook and Instagram in Canada even though it has been legalized.
  • There are many limitations on ad copy and the businesses that can advertise on Facebook and Instagram, so it’s important to follow the ad policies and guidelines closely; otherwise, your ads will get rejected, and it’s even possible to get your ad account shut down.

Digital Marketing Strategy for Both Platforms

In today’s digital marketplace for ads, it’s also possible to implement cross-platform strategies. For example, you can advertise your business on Google Search and then retarget those website visitors and place ads on their Facebook and Instagram newsfeeds. We use this strategy to get the best of both worlds for our clients who advertise on both platforms.

We typically start with the platform that is the best fit for each client. Once we ensure there is a solid ROI, we then scale up on that platform budget-wise, layer on another platform, and so on.

We occasionally have a client come to us because a platform isn’t working for them. In these instances, we first analyze their website to ensure that their funnel is optimized and functioning properly. We then either relaunch on the same platform or shake things up and test out another platform to see if it’s a platform selection issue instead of a funnel conversion issue.

How Can We Help You?

We are a rare digital marketing agency in that we provide ads management and advanced remarketing services on both platforms. This means we will work together internally to get the best digital marketing ROI possible if you wish to pay for traffic on each platform. When you hire two separate companies for these services, the back and forth communication can be inefficient, making the overall strategy and execution less effective.

Contact us today to discuss the best platform for your business, or use our guide to finding the best pay-per-click consultant.

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Tammy Martin

Tammy is the company founder and crafty innovator behind this article. Since 2000, she has worked with clients to refine their marketing strategy, perfect ad performance, and generate sales from the bottom up.

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If you’re interested in working with us, please contact us today, and we will connect to book a consultation with you.