“Google or Facebook? Which one should I use to make my marketing dollars go farther?” That’s one of the top questions we  hear when people ask us about online advertising. There’s pros and cons to both platforms, and each one offers something unique. We’ve outlined the good, the bad and the differences between the two.

What exactly is Google AdWords?

The most basic definition of Google AdWords boils down to paid search (also known as pay-per-click or PPC). You can use AdWords to promote your business, help you sell products or services, raise awareness, promote an offering and increase traffic to your website. As an advertiser, you bid on keywords your buyer personas would use to search for your service or product. A swim school, for example, might bid on the keyword “baby swim classes near me” if they are trying to generate more leads for their baby swim program.   

When a prospective customer enters a phrase or keyword as part of a search query, the advertiser with the highest ad rank appears in the 1st ad position. Your ad rank is determined by your maximum bid multiplied by your quality score. Your quality score is Google’s grading of the relevance of your keywords and your ads and is based on a 1-10 scale, and can easily be found in Google’s AdWords interface. The more your keywords, ads and landing pages are all relevant to each other,  the higher your Google AdWords quality score will be. For example, if you are bidding on keywords such as swimming but your ads say “free spa package” then your score would go down because it’s not relevant. Google takes quality score very seriously and penalizes advertisers who bid with low quality scores. The amount you, as the advertiser, is charged depends on how many users end up clicking on your ad, which explains the term “pay-per-click.”

Worried that you’ll have to spend a ton of money to “own” the keywords in your market? Don’t. Google AdWords rates ad relevance and quality very highly, so if your ads are high-quality, you won’t have to bid as much. Google wants to make sure your ad is relevant and useful to the person searching and their search term. And for local businesses, this is where you have a big advantage over national competitors. With Google AdWords you are able to get very strategic on where your ads show up in your local market based on the geographic location of your prospective customer.

Google AdWords is a great way to tap into potential traffic; and, according to Google the ROI is real: advertisers make $2 for every $1 spent and for many of our clients we are seeing a 4x or higher ROI.

What about Facebook Ads?

As opposed to paid search, Facebook Ads is what is referred to as paid social, or advertising on social media. Whereas PPC advertising is typically done by bidding on keywords to enable your ads to show for relevant searches, paid social involves placing ads on social networks, such as Facebook, directly into the news feeds of your target audience. Unlike AdWords, Facebook has a variety of different marketing objectives an advertiser can choose from. Do you want to raise brand awareness? Generate engagement? Track conversions? Facebook has those options.

Reaching your target audience on Facebook is much different then AdWords. While AdWords typically uses keywords to find the right people, Facebook uses their interests and behaviors to target them. For example, a mom of a toddler may be browsing on Facebook and suddenly may see an ad for a swim school having a special on swim lessons for toddlers. Although she wasn’t searching for swimming lessons, Facebook knew she had a toddler and offered that targeting option to a swim school looking to generate leads for their spring swimming lessons promotion. The Facebook algorithm is constantly collecting data for these type of insights.

What are the main differences between Facebook Ads and Google AdWords?

In short, most users tend to start with search engines, like Google, when looking for a new business or product or service. In fact, many of the searches are done on a mobile devices. According to Google, mobile is the dominant platform for searches with 48% of buyers using a smartphone to start searching with a search engine. Due to this, Google AdWords is typically the platform our team suggests to start with if the budget does not allow both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.

Google AdWords will give you the biggest possible audience (about 80.6% of global market share) and a wider net with the potential to reach billions of users in general.

Facebook Ads allows you to better target potential customers based on their interests; for example, you can target users and create lists based on demographics such as age, gender, job title, favorite TV shows, income and even life events and milestones – which allows you to tap into a very specific audience and align with their personal interests like never before. Keep in mind, Facebook recently changed its algorithm to more heavily weigh longer comments, based on the idea that in-depth exchanges between individuals means they’re connecting in a meaningful dialogue. And posts from family members and friends will be taking more of a key spot on users’ news feeds over brands. You can learn more about Facebook’s recent changes.

Facebook will give you visibility and potentially generate discussion about your product, but keep in mind that most of its active users are not on Facebook to shop or see ads. Google AdWords will offer you instant access to users who are actively looking to fulfill their needs with a business or service, because their intent is to find you. There are also plenty of customizations available, including sitelinks, user reviews, and shopping ads.

So which platform should you consider using? The answer is actually both. Facebook Ads will help you drive brand awareness while Google AdWords will generate leads which you can quickly convert. Still have questions? Let us help you choose the right lead generation strategy for your business.