Google Adwords vs Facebook Ads: which one to use?

Aug 18, 2016

Many people work on the assumption that the two ad giants oppose each other. You’re either team Adwords or team Facebook. It misleads and confuses many business owners and newcomers to the field.

For a long time, Google Adwords prevailed as THE channel for online advertisement. Then Facebook came along and built a colossal platform. Business owners are now forced to think twice before choosing where to spend their hard earned money and set their budgets.

Let’s start by briefly going over each channel, so we can help you figure this out.

Google Adwords

Google Adwords is split into two: Search & Display. Search allows you to show your ads on Google’s search result page based on keywords that you target. Display allows you to show your ads on the majority of websites that exist online, based on keywords, topics or demographics of websites and their visitors. We’re mostly going to focus on Search here but Display can be very good for raising brand awareness - more so than conversion-driven campaigns. There are many types of ads out there as well, but we’re not going to get into that now (Gmail ads for example: you catch your potential audience right in their inbox with an “ad” email).

At the time of writing, Google processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average (over 3.5 billion searches per day). It’s a massive set of audience to communicate with! Moreover, these people are actively searching for a product or service. So, Adwords helps you catch potential leads in a moment of intentional discovery. One of the very strong aspects of Adwords is how it helps to level the playing field. Because Adwords judges your ad rank based on the quality and relevance of your ad (among other factors, like ad formats), it doesn’t matter how much your competition is willing to bid. It goes back to Google wanting to serve relevant results to its users. It allows you to go head-to-head with the big players and potentially win!

We mentioned ad formats. A number of ad formats and extensions are available with Adwords which makes it even more relevant by giving a user access to specific types of information about your business (phone number, location, reviews, site links…etc) right from the ad itself. In some cases, this can be exactly what is needed to get more visibility and capture a lead.

It’s not all sunshine with Adwords though. If it’s set-up and managed incorrectly, it can be extremely costly. We’ve seen this happen many times. It also doesn’t help that setup and management are usually very time consuming - leaving business owners to quickly abandon the platform.

Facebook Ads

Facebook ads are sponsored social media posts. A user will see them in their timeline along with other posts from their family, friends or other pages. The genius of Facebook is just that; capture leads by showing them something different when they’re not expecting it.

It’s a very visual platform. The graphic itself plays a very big role on Facebook. However, its main lure is usually low budgets & great returns. Business owners find themselves getting great visibility and results for little investment. It helps when you have an enormous audience of 1.71 billion monthly active users with 1.13 billion of those being active daily. It’s an unparalleled segmented audience for marketers.

Targeting is rather easy, all a business owner has to do is identity the topics related to their industry. But Facebook didn’t stop there. Targeting by a lookalike audience (something nobody else has) removes a business owner’s or marketer’s speculation towards a target audience. In essence, you’re relying on Facebook’s machine logic & algorithms to determine your target audience based on the information you feed it about your existing clientele from a list of emails or website visitors that you own.

Problems on Facebook start arising when your target market becomes niche or specific; the majority of the large potential audience can quickly become irrelevant. We’ve seen it happen with a lot of high-end brands. Facebook is a democracy and anyone can interact with your brand as long as they fit the overall interest you are targeting. In some cases, and if not managed properly, it can also become problematic for business-to-business type of campaigns.

Which one should you choose?

To summarize, with Adwords you find your potential customers whereas with Facebook it’s the potential customers that find you. You can zoom in on a target with Adwords as they’re actively searching for their needs, while on Facebook you sort of throw a net and hope to attract a target.

Consequently, in a way, they’re complementary rather than oppositional. There can be a very rewarding harmony when these platforms are utilized together. It helps you to maximize visibility for your brand. Social media is cheaper and more effective but it’s still about discovery. If you want to close deals fast and for a specific type of product or service, a more active form of advertisement such as Adwords can be more effective.

Having a comprehensive marketing strategy is always key to success; so a dual advertising strategy on both platforms can make use of the strength of each channel to yield the optimum result for your business. It’s imperative to understand each channel and have a customized approach, while still keeping a consistent message with the brand’s overall direction of course.

Now this might be an over generalization, but if we had to sum it up, we’d say Google Adwords is a good bet for immediate sales while Facebook might be a good choice for general brand awareness and lead generation. Working with both helps you secure visibility on both ends of the spectrum.

Juggling such giants can be difficult. That’s why we’re here. Drop us a message and let’s talk!