What’s the difference between Facebook ads and Google ads?
Published 2 May 2021
They’re the giants of the tech world and, when it comes to advertising online, they can’t be beaten for audience insight or reach. But which one is best for your business? In this blog, I’ll explain the difference between Facebook ads and Google ads so that you can decide where to invest your cash. How […]

They’re the giants of the tech world and, when it comes to advertising online, they can’t be beaten for audience insight or reach. But which one is best for your business?

In this blog, I’ll explain the difference between Facebook ads and Google ads so that you can decide where to invest your cash.

How Facebook ads work

Each time you scroll through your Facebook feed, comment on a photo, watch a video, join a group, read an article or like a post, Facebook is collecting data.

It’s also gathering info on you from around the web. This is done via something called a Facebook pixel – a piece of code website owners put on their sites for free.

Ever noticed how you suddenly see an ad for Deliveroo, straight after you’d been looking at takeaways near you? That’s why.

This is called profile targeting.

By collecting all this data about the things you like, Facebook can create a comprehensive picture of your interests and show it to advertisers. ‘Looking for people to buy order from you? Here, try this person.’

How Google ads work

Google ads work differently. They target a customer’s immediate intent – their behaviour in that moment.

This is called behaviour targeting.

When you search for something on Google you’re often expressing a desire to buy a product there and then.

For example, if you type ‘buy running shoes’ into Google, there’s no doubting what you’re after. As a result, the first thing you’ll see are ads for running shoes.

While it’s possible to layer some profile targeting on top of Google’s behavioural targeting – say, excluding people by age or gender – the user still has to express an intent in the first place.

The pros and cons

Google

✔️ Users are ready to buy

✔️ Freshaudiences are being created every day

✖️ Can’t ‘backdate’ and target people who searched last month

✖️ Audiences might be smaller – you have to wait for new people to search

Facebook

✔️ Can target broader audiences 

✔️ Can target people who are a good fit for your brand

✖️ An interest doesn’t mean someone is ready to buy

✖️ Changes to how Facebook will soon be able to collect data may limit targeting opportunities

Which to use?

The truth is, both Facebook and Google provide super-targeted advertising opportunities for small businesses.

Both platforms require time and patience to get the best results – and neither will perform miracles if you’re not making sales organically in your business. (Click here to download Is Your Business Ready For Facebook Ads?)

I really like both Facebook and Google ads, but tend to use them for different things. Facebook is great for finding people, and reaching both a cold audience, as well as retargeting warm prospects.

Google is more effective to reach people who are already at the point where they want to buy, for example people searching ‘order vegetarian recipe kit’ (shows intent to buy) rather than ‘vegetarian recipes’, which is more likely just intended for research.

Either can work brilliantly on their own or they can complement each other when used at the same time.

The best advice? Try both and see which works best for you, but I’d definitley recommend giving each a decent chance – 3 months ideally.

If you’d like to find out more about Facebook and Google ads management, drop me an email, and I’ll be in touch to arrange a call.

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