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Google Adwords vs Facebook Ads: Which One Is Best for Your Business?

5 Sep

When it comes to PPC (pay-per-click) strategies, there are really two big players in the game: Google AdWords and Facebook advertising

While other platforms that exist, most digital marketers will tell you that in reality these two are the only ones that really matter. As a matter of fact, we’ve even reached the point where perennial runner-up Yahoo is displaying Google ads on its search results!

If your business is only just getting into the PPC game, you’ll want to understand which one is best for your digital marketing strategy.

So which one should you choose for your business?

What is pay-per-click, and how can it help my digital marketing strategy?

“Pay-per-click” (or cost-per-click, depending on who you talk to) is a form of online advertising where you pay the hosting platform only when visitors click on your ads.

While organic is much more cost-effective in the long-term, it takes time to get results. At iformat, we encourage businesses who want quicker results to choose PPC platforms as part of their digital strategies.

While there are many platforms that offer PPC advertising, the two biggest players in the marketplace by far are Google AdWords (AKA Google Ads) and Facebook Advertising.

From the outside, both function pretty similarly:

  1. You put together an ad which is presented on certain target audience or keywords.
  2. Whether it’s your ad or a competitor’s that get displayed is determined by factors such as competitiveness and relevance.
  3. Finally, you pay X amount every time someone clicks your ad.

When you look under the hood however, there are several huge differences between the two. Before we dive into the strengths and features of both platforms, it’s crucial to understand the biggest difference between the two:

Paid search vs paid social

One is a search engine. The other, a social network. Naturally, that’s going to result in some differences in how PPC works between the two!

As a search engine, Google is all about search terms. Advertisers using AdWords place bids on specific keywords – the search terms and phrases that users plug into the search box. Every time someone clicks on your ad, you’re charged a nominal fee.

The system for determining which ads are presented is a complex topic that’s far beyond the scope of this post. But essentially, ads are evaluated based on their relevance to the keyword and your maximum bid (the most you’re willing to pay for a click).

While Facebook advertising is similar in how it operates, the big difference is how Facebook ads are presented.

Instead of being served on searches, ads are presented to users based on the treasure trove of user data Facebook collects.

Want to target users in specific suburbs? You can do that.

Do you plan on focusing on DIY-fanatics? You can do that.

Are you interested in targeting customers who are similar to your core audience? You can do that.

Think of it this way: if Google targets people who are actively looking for businesses like yours, while Facebook ads are targeted towards people whoare likely to become future customers.

So, which one’s better?

Well, it depends.

Both have their own strengths and weaknesses. For example, Facebook is a much more visual medium, while AdWords is spartan in comparison. This makes Facebook much more attention-grabbing.

On the other hand, AdWords is better at getting you more qualified leads than Facebook. Users either need to know about or be interested in something to search for it, meaning your ads will be displayed to people who are actively thinking about making a purchase.

Which platform is more suitable for your digital strategy hinges on your circumstances, your targets and your goals. It all depends on what you’re trying to achieve, which naturally depends on your circumstances. For example:

Are you looking to target specific target markets?

Facebook knows a lot about its users. Interests, hobbies, demographic data… even if you don’t share every detail of your life on social media, Facebook has enough data to extrapolate your interests. Even the images you react to can be used to build profiles of users.

It’s creepy, we know – but from an advertising standpoint, it makes Facebook the most powerful tool for targeting, hands down.

Winner: Facebook 

How much time can you set aside for PPC?

AdWords is very much a “once-and-done” set-up. You decide on your keywords, put together an ad and put it up… and then you can just forget about it!

In contrast, effective Facebook campaigns require more frequent updating, with new ads being created regularly to keep your ads fresh. If you don’t have the time for that, AdWords is the clear winner.

Winner: Adwords

Do you want conversions?

While Facebook knows a lot about its users, it doesn’t know whether they’re currently in the market for specific goods and services (or at least, not yet!)

If a customer is searching for products and services that you offer, chances are they’re already committed to making a purchase. Google is many people’s first port of call for product information, making AdWords the perfect tool for reaching customers that are further in the purchase cycle.

Winner: Adwords

Or do you want awareness?

AdWords only displays ads when customers actively search for it.

If your goal is to raise awareness for your business, Google won’t work as effectively. After all, AdWords inherently requires customers to know about your business or products first.

With its focus on outbound marketing (reaching out to customers), Facebook advertising is the clear winner.

Learn more about the difference between inbound and outbound marketing.

Winner: Facebook

Do you offer niche products and services?

Miche markets are by definition very specific groups of people.

It’s totally possible to reach niche markets using AdWords. But with its powerful targeting tools, Facebook ads are a safer investment.

Winner: Facebook

Is your business about fixing problems?

Every person using Google is looking for something – oftentimes, that “something” is a problem that needs fixing.

Let’s say a pipe has burst in your home. You go to Google to find out what’s wrong, typing in “how to fix burst pipes”. At the top of the page, you’re presented with an ad from a plumber, and you think “that might be the solution to my problem”.

Some businesses are inherently reactive. If yours is one of them, AdWords is the way to go.

Winner: Adwords

Are you A B2B or B2C business?

Facebook ads are based on user data like interests, demographics and behaviours. These variables make Facebook advertising inherently more business-to-consumer as a platform.

That’s not to say B2B marketing is impossible on Facebook. It is much harder, however!

Google AdWords on the other hand can swing either way – it all depends on the keywords you choose to target.

Winner: it depends

Combining audiences across AdWords with Facebook

PPC isn’t a zero-sum game – who says you have to be limited to just one PPC platform?

Research from Kenshoo shows that paid search audiences that were already exposed to a Facebook ad generated a 7% increase in clicks and a 4.5% decrease in cost-per-acquisition.

By priming your customers with a highly-relevant and targeted Facebook ad, you’re setting them up for a knock-out punch when those users eventually search for related keywords!

Audience Insights and UTM tracking tags in your Facebook ad sets can be used to inform your AdWords campaign. By identifying exactly who’s responding to your ads, you can tailor your copywriting and keyword choices.

If you have the budget, think about experimenting with both to figure out which one is more suitable for your business. Both come with effective analytics to help you determine your return on investment – if one underperforms, consider cutting it until your PPC budget grows.

ppc manager overseeing campaign

Price-per-click strategy from iformat

While there’s no clear-cut answer to which PPC platform is “the best”, iformat can help you figure out which one is most suitable for you. Our experts sit down with you to build an in-depth understanding of your business strategy, circumstances and goals so we can recommend the best mix of PPC options for you.

Ongoing reporting means that you’re always up-to-date regarding the performance of your PPC campaigns, while ongoing maintenance and modification allows us to tweak your campaigns and ensure they’re performing.

iformat works with you to put together the most effective digital marketing strategy for your business. Ring us on 1300 886 450 or request a call today!