Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Which is Better?

Both Facebook and Google Ad platforms are powerful advertising channels to rapidly scale a business. But which one is better? The short answer is neither, but also both … and yet – this is just to confuse you even further – maybe it’s actually YouTube

That’s the conclusion of a Data Driven U Insider masterclass presented by Alvaro Berrios, Founder & Facebook Ad Strategist at Alvaro Berrios Digital. You can connect with Alvaro on LinkedIn and Facebook.

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Screenshot of the Insider masterclass “Facebook Ads on a budget”

The longer answer to whether it’s better to run Facebook ads or Google ads is that both platforms can be useful. But, to pick the right one, you need to take into account a number of different factors, including your customers, sector, and product type and then the costs versus the kinds of options and features each platform offers.

Let’s break it down and look at these factors in more detail and then, weighing up the pros and cons, we will see which platform wins in each case.

For the sake of simplicity, the comparison only applies to ads displayed in Facebook news feed and Google Search. That means, for example, that we don’t take Facebook Marketplace, Messenger and Google Display into consideration.

Considering your customers

The first thing to consider when deciding whether to use Facebook Ads vs Google Ads is which step of the buyer journey your target customers are on. We can break down the buying cycle as follows:

  1. Awareness – customer is aware they have a problem/need
  2. Interest – customer starts searching for solutions
  3. Consideration – customer has found several options and is narrowing them down
  4. Purchase – customer makes their choice using emotion and then justifies it with logic
  5. Advocacy – the happy customer spreads the word

Key to moving your customers through the buying cycle is an understanding of the customer awareness level. As anyone who has taken a Data Driven course will know, there are 5 levels of awareness:

  1. Unaware – customer does not know they have a problem
  2. Problem Aware – customer knows they have a problem but doesn’t know how to solve it
  3. Solution Aware – customer is aware of the solution but doesn’t know about your product
  4. Product Aware – customer knows about you and your product/service but hasn’t purchased it yet
  5. Most Aware – customer is on all of your mailing lists and knows your full product suite, may have even bought from you in the past

In the image below, the red line shows the awareness level of users that are scrolling on Facebook or searching in Google. 

5 customer awareness levels for google ads and facebook ads

Let’s take a closer look at what the customer journey means for you when choosing the best possible paid advertising platform. 

Google Ads Pros and Cons

When people are searching on Google, they are already showing intent and are actively searching for a solution to their problem. They are on the second step of the buyer journey; Interest.

Google Ads can only address customers once they are already product aware. If they are not aware, they are not going to find you in a search.

As such, when using Google Ads, you should focus on offering a specific solution to a specific problem.

Facebook Ads Pros and Cons

Facebook Ads uses interruption marketing. Users are on the platform to do something else.

You don’t know what specific problem your customer has when advertising on Facebook, so trying to address it is a waste of time.

However, Facebook Ads can be useful for customers at all awareness stages.

Verdict: Google Ads wins, but only if you are addressing customers who are already aware, otherwise it’s Facebook all the way (we told you this wouldn’t be definitive).

One thing to remember is that, although Facebook may be a better choice for you considering the customer awareness stage, you will need a greater level of skill to create the perfect ad to meet your customers' needs. You are interrupting the customer in their day so your ad better be good to get their attention.

We will go into more detail on do’s and don’ts for creating the perfect ad at each stage of the awareness scale in Data Driven Insiders.

Facebook vs Google Ads: Which is more cost effective?

For most small companies starting out and looking to grow, the cost is going to be a major factor. However, there are many ways to look at costs beyond the cost-per-lead or cost-per-click metrics.

It is not a coincidence that I list these two metrics here. Every decent paid ad platform uses them and that allows businesses and marketers to easily compare their ROAS (Return on Advertising Spend) across different channels. 

Alas, these popular marketing metrics don’t tell the complete story. In the end, you want your campaigns to bring in money. 

The CPC (cost per click) for Facebook and Google ads campaigns may differ, but you also need to consider, for example, the conversion rate and quality of your leads.

On top of that, there are a number of variations depending on which industry you are in or what your marketing objectives are. In other words: not every campaign will require an equal amount of budget.

One of our considerations when looking at cost is whether you are selling B2B or B2C.

Paid ad cost considerations for B2B leads

There are quite some differences between the costs for paid Facebook advertising and displaying text ads in Google search. But it is safe to assume the following:

  • B2B leads are cheaper on Facebook than Google.
  • Facebook leads can be of poor quality because job title targeting is not always optimum.
  • B2B leads from Google are more expensive but better quality because the person searching is generally the decision-maker.
  • The lifetime value of a B2B lead is much higher than a B2C, so although the cost is higher with Google, it may still be worth your while.

The best way to find out how much your Google Ads will cost and bring in is to use our free Google Ads budget calculator. 

Enough about businesses. For consumers, the picture looks different… 

Paid ad cost considerations for B2C leads

Of course, you can run Google ads to reach consumers, but this also comes with a different cost compared to running Facebook ads. In brief, it boils down to this:

  • For B2C, Facebook Ads is better as you get more granular data which helps you get in front of the right target audience.
  • With almost 3 billion Facebook users, there are no limits to how big your audience can be. 
  • With Google Ads, you have higher intent for the search but with a higher CPC. And this can eat into your profits.
  • You have limited reach on Google based on who is searching.

If you don’t want to burn money on paid ads on the biggest social network, you can best download our free Facebook Ad budget calculator.

Verdict: Google Ads wins for B2B advertising but it’s Facebook Ads for B2C.

Want to get into the nitty-gritty of CPC comparisons? We give you a full industry-by-industry breakdown in Data Driven Insiders.

Facebook vs Google Ads: Which is easier to use?

Ease-of-use is a consideration for small business owners who want to start with paid advertising. After all, you have a ton of other things you need to specialize in and you don’t want to spend hours and hours on your advertising because the platform isn’t user-friendly. So when it comes to Facebook Ads vs Google Ads, which one is easier to use?

Let’s look at a breakdown of the different tasks you need to complete on each platform as part of your marketing strategy:

Google Ads launch checklist

In its most simple form, you need to follow these steps to get started with Google Ads:

  • Do keyword research
  • Set up Google Tag Manager
  • Create short, text-based ads
  • Link your Google Ads account to Google Analytics 4
  • Import your key events into Google Ads and use them as conversions
  • Create a simple landing page

Facebook Ads Checklist

To run Facebook ads, you need to do at least the following steps:

  • Post consistently on your FB page (CPC is cheaper if you have an active page)
  • Do Audience research
  • Set up FB Pixel and run it long enough to gather data
  • Set up conversions
  • Create custom audiences
  • Do offer research
  • Create ad copy and creative
  • Create landing page (longer than the one for Google ads because Facebook users are not actively searching for a solution and need more context)

Verdict: Google Ads is much quicker to set up so you can start getting results more quickly, and is easier for testing and scaling. Although Facebook does do better when it comes to ongoing maintenance, for all other levels of the campaign, Google wins.

Facebook vs Google Ads: Which is more versatile?

As we have already seen, Facebook Ads is more complex to set up than Google Ads. But does that mean it’s more versatile? Let’s take a look at the options to find out

Social Proof

Social proof is one of the key factors in customer purchasing decisions online. So which platform offers more opportunities for social proof?

  • Facebook offers the potential for tons of social proof via likes, comments, shares, and other types of interactions.
  • Facebook offers the ability to get free impressions.
  • Facebook helps you grow your Facebook and Instagram followers.
  • Google doesn’t help you grow your following, add social proof or provide free impressions.

Ad Format

Your creative is a key part of your marketing strategy and you want it to stand out. So which platform offers you more options?

  • Facebook offers images, videos, and instant experience ad formats.
  • Facebook allows almost unlimited freedom and flexibility to get creative with product demonstrations.
  • Google ads make it difficult to demonstrate the uniqueness of a product.
  • Google offers a lot of assets like site links, callouts, business logo, and so on to make your ad stand out. 

google ads assets

Ad Customizations

When you have your ad created, you might want to customize it and offer variations. So, which platform works better for you?

  • Google lets you customize based on keywords, location, device, and audience.
  • Facebook lets you customize ad placements.
  • However, when using customization features on Facebook. You will get a new ad ID which means you lose all the social proof on that Ad.

Verdict: Facebook wins this one. Although it’s not ideal that you lose your social proof when customizing ads, the different ad formats and all the social proof options mean that Facebook Ads is better than Google Ads, especially if you want to show how cool and unique your product is.

Video: Should I start with Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

Jeremy sells online educational material and reached out to me with a question all businesses have. He wanted to know whether paid search or paid social ads would be best to reach his target audience. Can you guess what advice I gave to him? The answer is in the video. 

Facebook vs Google Ads: And the Winner is…

So who has the final say on the Facebook vs Google Ads battle? With so many options at play, it’s impossible to say which platform is “better”. Before you decide on your platform, start by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Which is a better fit for my budget?
  • Which one is a better fit for the product landscape I’m in?
  • What stages of the buyer journey am I targeting?

And, my final tips for you are to start small: using retargeting with Facebook Ads is a great place to start. Then, gradually as you are able to increase your budget, start to integrate other types of campaigns and platforms depending on your specific circumstances and needs.

Wait … what about YouTube?

You’re right, I did mention YouTube at the top of this post and in fact, YouTube can provide an excellent hybrid solution, with some of the benefits of both Facebook and Google.

To find out more, along with lots more useful insights, check out Data Driven Insiders.

Our program is packed with updated courses and masterclasses to become a Facebook and Google advertising expert in no time. 

paid ads courses for facebook and google ads

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