Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Which One Is Right For You [Updated 2021]

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Chris Schutte

Jan 10, 2021

In this article, we will discuss the difference between Google Ads and Facebook Ads (yes there is a difference). You will discover the 2 critical factors you should consider before choosing which platform is right for you. And finally, we will show you the most common mistake most businesses make when it comes to Facebook Ads.

Pay Per Click Advertising

Before we get into the differences between these platforms and how to choose which one is right for you, let’s talk about their similarities.

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are both forms of Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising. This is where companies can create an advert but only pay when someone clicks on the advert. The amount you pay per click is determined by an algorithm unique to each platform. This means that you can control exactly how much you are willing to spend on PPC advertising.

The attractive thing about PPC advertising is that you can track exactly how many people saw and clicked on your advert. Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads, when done correctly, will provide you with measurable ROI. Therefore they are very popular with small to medium size businesses on a budget!

But that is where the similarities stop.

The Only Difference, That Makes a Difference

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are vastly different in how they operate and who they are intended for. I am not going to dissect each platform, but rather I will give you the defining factor that separates them:

  • Google helps customers find businesses.
  • Facebook helps businesses find customers.

It’s that simple. Let’s elaborate.

Google helps customers find businesses.

Google’s objective is to help people find exactly what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible.

There are over 2.3 million searches happening on Google every minute. Using Google Ads you can target certain keywords and create an advert to appear when a search contains those keywords.

Almost instantly you can get potential customers clicking through to your website.

So if you are a plumber in Pretoria, for example, you want to be on Google Ads since there are about 1600 searches for “plumber Pretoria” a month on Google. That’s a lot of business.

Facebook helps businesses find customers.

Facebook knows you better than you know yourself. It knows everything from your age to what sports team you support. It collects behavioural data from customers and basically sells it to businesses.

Using Facebook Ads, a Business can target a specific “audience” based on their likes and behaviours.

So, for example, if you own a Mobile Dog Grooming truck in Sandton, you can create an advert that targets people on Facebook that match the following criteria:

  • Behaviour: Pet Owners
  • Location: Bryanston
  • Age: 24 – 44
  • Likes: Dogs

Yes, Facebook actually knows whether you own a pet or not. The legality of how it knows that is up for debate but it does, and you can be targeted by a business.

We use more complex targeting strategies than that, but the fact is that you can target almost anyone on Facebook.

So as you can see, Facebook and Google serve two very different purposes – do you want to target people looking for your service, or do you want to create a demand for your service? This brings me to our final point.

google ads vs facebook ads

Two Factors to Consider When Choosing Between Google or Facebook Ads.

As with any successful marketing strategy you have to know what your objectives are and who you are marketing too. It’s no different when it comes to choosing between Facebook Ads and Google Ads.

Who is your target audience?

There is no point in spending time and money setting up Facebook Ads when your target audience is high-level executives who prefer to mountain bike while their wives use Facebook.

And there is no point in spending time and money setting up Google Ads if your target audience is 50-year-old farmers from Springbok who prefer to do business in person at trade shows.

So, really the first thing you need to do is identify who it is you are targeting, where are they spending time online, and how are they looking for services.

What is your objective?

The next thing you need to consider is what your digital marketing objectives are? Do you want instant sales? Or do you want to fill your pipeline with leads?

If your objective is direct sales, then Google Ads is your guy. In other words, if you have a product or service that people know and look for online then you can target them with Google Ads to generate almost instant sales (depending on how good your advert and landing page is).

By comparison, if your objective is to create brand awareness, by getting your service in front of a specific group of people, then Facebook Ads is your guy. Facebook is a great way to generate leads for your business which down the line might become customers.

For example, let’s say you own roofing business. You can create a Facebook advert offering a “Free Leak Inspection” before the rainy season and target-rich suburbs like Hyde Park and Bryanston. You will get a ton of sign-ups – filling your pipeline with leads, i.e. prospective customers.

Avoid This Mistake.

If you have chosen Facebook Ads as your medium, the single biggest mistake you can make is trying to use Facebook to generate direct sales. Why? Because people on Facebook are not there with the intention of spending money.

The ability to be able to pinpoint a specific audience tempts businesses into creating sales-based ads. But they are wasting their time and money on people looking for updates from their friends and cute cat pictures to post on WhatsApp groups.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying it is impossible to sell on Facebook – you just have to go about it differently. We use Facebook to generate sales in two ways:

  • Retargeting – Facebook Retargeting Ads are perfect for reaching your website visitors on Facebook. If someone viewed your products or services but did not convert on your website, then your can use Facebook Retargeting Ads to give that person a discount or perhaps some additional info to help them make the purchase.
  • Brand Awareness – If you are an unknown brand, you can use Facebook Ads to promote your content (blogs, videos etc.) in order to build credibility with an audience. This strategy is not meant to generate out-and-out sales, but rather website traffic and brand awareness. (Which you can retarget with an offer later on Facebook)

If You Just Skipped To The End of The Article

To give you the answer you would expect from a digital marketing company- it shouldn’t be a question of either or – both Facebook Ads and Google Ads should form a part of your digital marketing strategy.

Google helps customers find businesses. Facebook helps businesses find customers.

Google Ads allow you to generate almost instant leads and sales from people already looking for your service. Facebook Ads allow you to market your products and services to new audiences and build brand awareness.

Bonus tip: You should never use Facebook Ads for direct selling – instead use Facebook Ads to promote your content, in order to get your services in front of new audiences.

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