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Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Which Is Better for Your Online Business?

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As a digital marketing agency, we receive this question every day. “When to use Facebook Ads vs Google Ads? Which is better for my online business?”

Well, it depends. 

Both Google and Facebook are dominant advertising giants and worth spending your marketing budget on, yet for different reasons. Which one is a better fit for you will depend on the type of your business, your goals, and your audience.

Facebook currently has 2.5 billion active monthly users and offers ultra-precise audience targeting to help new customers discover your business.

At the same time, Google handles roughly 3.5 billion searches per day and accounts for 92% of overall organic search traffic in the US, letting you find new customers and leverage their high search intent. 

FB vs Google Ads Fact

So, when should you opt for one advertising channel over the other, Google Ads or Facebook Ads, which one will better suit your business’s needs? 

Let’s take a more in-depth look at the differences between these two platforms, and what aspects you should consider when deciding which one will bring your organization a bigger ROI.

Paid Search vs Paid Social: What’s the Difference?

Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads are advertising platforms that charge you on a pay-per-click basis. They’re also both effective and can help you increase sales and brand awareness. However, what is the primary difference between the two? Let’s figure it out.

“The main difference between the two is how the users are receiving your ads. Facebook is more like a digital billboard while Google Ads is more like seeking out advice from a professional. For example who is more likely to click an ad that says “Sell Your House Now For Cash” someone who sees a Facebook Ad on their feed or someone who searched into Google “I need to sell my house fast for cash” and then sees the Ad pop up at the top of the screen? It’s the latter every time. Our first-time user conversions on Google Ads are 20 times more likely to lead to a sale than our Facebook Ads, and I truly believe it is because of when/how we are able to show the user the ad.”

What Is Google Ads?

Google Ads, formerly known as Adwords, is mostly considered a paid search. When you’re using this advertising platform, you pay for the ads to appear on search engine result pages (SERPs.)

Check out an example of paid search ads below:

Example of paid search ads

As you see, all paid listings are marked either “Ad” or “Sponsored”. You can also notice that Google showed only ads relevant to my search and even my location (editor’s note: since I’m in Thailand, all prices are in Thai Baht.)

It means that Google can place your ad based on your target keywords and audience.

Now, imagine how many prospects you can reach by leveraging the power of their search intent. These buyers are actively looking for the type of products/services you offer, and Google Ads can help you find and convert them before your competitors do.

“Google Ads allow you to target potential customers at *specific points along the customer journey*. This means you can create different ad copy and landing pages to speak to customers depending on where they are in the funnel. You can hone your keyword portfolio so that you’re directing your monthly budget into the keywords that generate the most business for you, and you can do this relatively quickly. The goal with your Google Ads is to make the customers journey from *search term > ad copy > landing page > desired action* as natural as possible.”

Apart from Google Search, Google Ads also lets you advertise on:

In short, the main goal of advertising on Google is to get more new or existing customers who’re already searching for something you sell on your website.

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What Is Facebook Advertising?

Contrary to the Google’s paid search, Facebook offers paid social advertising. It’s the biggest social media platform in the world, and it lets you pay to place your ads in front of potential customers. 

People share a lot of things on their social media, including their interests, likes/dislikes, preferences, friends, plans, marital status, date of birth, location, and many more. That’s why advertising on such a gigantic social media powerhouse like Facebook lets you take advantage of this immense data and target audiences that are most likely to convert.

"When a person is on Facebook, they aren't normally searching for anything like they do on Google. Rather, they're getting updates on the lives of friends. A Facebook Ad is trying to interrupt my intended Facebook activity. It's being put in front of me and it has to be so interesting that I'll want to stop looking at friends' updates in order to learn what it's about."

Dave Mason | CEO of The Knobs Company & Author of “The Cash Machine and The Size of Your Dreams”

Below you will find an example of a paid ad on Facebook Newsfeed:

Facebook Newsfeed Ad Example

Apart from the Newsfeed, you can also place your Facebook Ads on:

  • Facebook Marketplace
  • Instagram Feed (over 1 billion worldwide users)
  • Video Feeds
  • Right-hand column
  • Messenger (1.6 billion active users)

To cut a long story short, Facebook Ads, aka paid social, let you use precise demographic targeting and help prospects find your business based on their interests and social behavior.

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Comparison

Now that you’re aware of the fundamental differences between these two advertising giants, let’s dig deeper and compare Google Ads and Facebook Ads in more detail.

“The main difference between Google and Facebook ads is the buyer and their mindset at the time. People rarely go to Facebook to ask questions, but they do on Google. People cannot go to Google and share their interests and hobbies, but they can on Facebook. Google allows you to reach people who are searching and Facebook allows you to incorporate your product or service into the feed of someone who may not know they are interested in you.”

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

Audience Size

Both Google and Facebook provide you with an enormous amount of users. However, the number itself shouldn’t be your primary focus. 

Your target audience is likely to use both of these platforms. Yet, you cannot define whether Facebook or Google Ads is better for your business by just looking at the number of people using them.

Instead, here’s what you need to ask yourself:

  • Are my prospects actively using both networks or just one of them?
  • Is a service or product that I offer on my website search-oriented?
  • Are people aware of my product or service?

If your potential customers are neither on Facebook or Google, then what’s the point of spending your budget? 

If no one is searching for your specific product or service on Google, then you should consider other advertising options. 

If your product or service is brand-new or super hi-tech, and no one has ever heard of it, then Facebook would be a better place to spread the word about what you have to offer.

Audience Targeting

You can target or retarget specific audiences by location, age, gender, marital status, and income level with both Facebook and Google Ads.  

However, if your business requires more advanced targeting options to drive traffic, Facebook is your ultimate winner. Moreover, you can also create custom and lookalike Facebook audiences based on the user’s preferences and behaviors.

“Facebook ads can work wonders mostly especially for online stores or product-specific businesses to reach the right targeted audience in a specific time or for a special duration. Its analytics is better & more detailed. People tend to love what they see often & FB ads can just do that for your product. It combined with Instagram ads can reach a much wider audience.”

People share a lot of information on Facebook, sometimes even too much if you ask us.

Nevertheless, the more they tell the platform about themselves, the bigger is your chance to reach your target users, even if they’re precisely 20-25-year-old digital nomads who love EDM music, Tiger King, and vegan smoothie bowls (just saying…)

Buyer Intent

Now, it’s time for Google Ads to shine. If people are searching for your products or services when they’re ready to click “Buy”, then you should advertise on Google.

"Google ads pop up for those searching for something, FB ads are served to people just surfing Facebook. Google is targeting much more active consumers already in the buying mode, they are further down the purchase funnel and should be easier to convert."

Paul Ronto | CMO and Content Director at RunRepeat

Google Ads lets you gain qualified traffic that will most likely result in an immediate conversion. Google will place your ads at the time your prospects need your services the most.

In short, the Google advertising platform will make sure your ads satisfy buyers’ search intent. 

On the other hand, if your marketing goal is to build a strong social community and boost your brand awareness, then Facebook has much more potential.

“In my 15 years of business, I've used both Google and Facebook ads. Based on my own experience, Google brings you more clicks, leads and sales. On the other hand Facebook ads will bring more likes to your page. For example if you are posting cars on your Facebook page, people that like cars will like your page regardless of needing a car or your service just because they like the content of your page. But with Google Ads, people who searched for the services you offer will get in touch with you or will come to your website. That's a serious customer that will turn to sales. That's the type of return you want from paying for ads.”

Cost & ROI

As a small business owner, you, of course, worry not only about the effectiveness of your advertising campaigns but also their price. So, which is cheaper, Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

Note: Before we take a look at the exact number, remember that cost for your ads, either on Google or Facebook, will largely depend on your industry, location, and marketing objectives.

“Both Google Ads and Facebook Ads have their pros and cons. While Google Ads allows businesses to speak with consumers who are ready to buy, it is also more expensive especially if you are trying to bid on a highly competitive keyword. In the B2B space, a cost per click on a Google Ad can range from $15-$100. With Facebook, there is less of a pay to play model. While Facebook Ads are most cost-effective, they are also more disruptive because you are advertising to a general population who doesn’t necessarily have that intent to purchase anything.”

Average Cost per Click

In January 2020, the average cost per click (CPC) on Facebook Ads was $0.11, and it fell to $0.09 in March across all industries.

Facebook Ads offer the capability to reach thousands, if not millions of impressions with a rather affordable budget. Cost per click and cost per mille is extraordinarily cheaper with Facebook Ads compared to Google Ads. Typically I pay about $0.12 per click on Facebook Ads, Google Ads is about $2.00 per click for my locksmith industry.

While according to SEMrush, the average CPC for Google Ads across all industries in the US is $1.9.

So, you’ll pay less per click on your Facebook ad than on Google, yet again, it shouldn’t be the only reason why you choose one platform over another.

If your audience isn’t on Facebook, you’ll still waste your money even with a minimum CPC.

Average Click-Through Rate

The average click-through rate (CTR) for Facebook ads across all industries is 0.90%. On the other hand, the average CTR in Google Ads across all industries is 3.17% for search and 0.46% for display.

“My dad runs a moving company near Boston, and Google ads work well for him. But for my commercial film production business, with clients worldwide, since we have a higher price point and provide a much more personalized and specialized service, we use Facebook ads. We are able to target friends of those who like our page, so that the word of mouth aspect is built-in to the advertising. While Google ads are important for those further into the sales process who are actively looking for something specific, Facebook ads can help spread awareness about your company and what you do. Since we make commercials, we use our commercials themselves as ads. People ask who made a given video, and Facebook points to us as the producers.”

Here, it’s critical that you understand that Facebook Ads let you combine both text and attractive images or videos that are more likely to be clickable to learn more about your brand.

Google Ads catch your prospect in the process of either consideration, that’s why it takes more effort to create a highly-clickable ad on Google.

Average Conversion Rate

The average conversion rate (CVR) for Facebook ads across all industries is 9.21%. However, it also depends on the industry.

For example, fitness business owners can jump from happiness because an average CVR on Facebook for the fitness industry is 14.29%. Pretty neat, eh?

At the same time, the average conversion rate in Google Ads across all industries is 3.75% for search and 0.77% for display.

“From our experience, Google is a channel that performs better than Facebook. What we learned from our customer interviews is that when they make a high-value purchase a result they see in Google has more trust than the random Ad from a brand on their Facebook news feed. Our click rate for Ads has been between 1% and 2% on both platforms but when it comes to conversion Google had a conversion rate of 34% compared to Facebook's 13%. But we have much more engagement from Facebook customers as they curiously explored the website.”

Rahul Mohanachandran | Founder & Head of Marketing at Kasera

Average Cost per Action

The average cost per action (CPA) for Facebook ads across all industries is $18.68. While the average CPA in Google Ads across all industries is $48.96 for search and $75.51 for display.

Note that “action” can be anything from submitting a form, clicking on your ad to making a purchase. CPA is also an important benchmark to know whether you’ll have the desired ROI on your specific PPC campaign.

“86% lower CPA on Google: We recently experimented with Google and Facebook ads with a new solitaire gaming site we launched. Facebook was great to direct ads to our target market, namely individuals over 50 with interests in games and arts. However, we found that our ads had minimal engagement, and those who clicked through did not frequently play the game for a while. Facebook was great to get our site in front of these users, but their interest lied more in looking at their Facebook news feed and not playing a game. For Google, on the other hand, we were able to target the keyword ‘solitaire’ and found those who clicked on our ads stayed on our sites for over 15 minutes, and would often play numerous games. These users had the intent to play our games because they were searching for it, and became ideal customers. Overall, our cost per acquisitions was just above $4.00 and 86% lower than our CPA on Facebook.”

P.S. Don’t be scared by the CPA numbers, just make sure your ads are well-targeted and have a high conversion rate.

Unique Ad Placements

Google Ads versus Facebook Ads: same same, but different.

Even though both platforms are more or less similar (they let you place your ads and pay for them whenever your prospects click on them), they are still unique in their own way.

“Facebook tends to work best with products that are spur of the moment purchase decisions. That's because nobody goes to Facebook actively looking to buy something. They go there to chat with friends and family. Because of that, you need a product that is going to wow them - something they have never seen before or something that everybody is talking about. Even better is if it solves a problem they have (real or perceived). A successful Facebook product usually has to cost less than $60 (the lower the price, the better); otherwise, its price falls out of the price range most people feel comfortable making immediate buying decisions about.”

Each platform offers a unique ad placement that differs from other ads on that platform. For Facebook, it’s Messenger Ads, and for Google, –  Shopping Ads. 

Example of a Facebook Messenger Ad
Example of a Facebook Messenger Ad
Example of Google Shopping Ads

Depending on your business, you can leverage both to make sure you reach your target audience.

TL;DR

We’ve mentioned a lot of stats and facts, and we know it might seem like too much information to process at once. In the end, all you want to learn is what will bring you a better ROI, Facebook Ads, or Google Ads. 

Usually, it’s an excellent tactic to test both Google Ads and Facebook Ads and see which one is a better fit.

However, if your marketing budget is tight and you cannot afford the cost of “trial and failure,” then take a look at the table below. It should make the process of choosing the right advertising platform for your business much more straightforward.

Google Ads or Facebook Ads: What Should I Choose?

Google or FB Ads What to choose

Please, note that the guidelines you see above are general. Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads have tricks that can help you reach almost all of your marketing goals if you know how to craft a strong advertising campaign. 

And if you’re new to pay-per-click advertising and don’t know where to begin, our PPC experts are ready to leverage years of experience to run profitable Facebook and Google Ads campaigns for your business.

The Takeaway

Google Ads and Facebook Ads are strong PPC advertising platforms that can help you boost your business. However, which one you’re going to choose depends on your industry, type of business, goals, and target audience. 

After comparing Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, we dare to state that you should view paid search and paid social as complementary rather than opposed strategies. 

Google Ads is ideal for businesses that sell products or services that users are aware of and are already actively searching for.

On the other hand, Facebook is mostly a better choice if you’re trying to advertise new or innovative products, want to target particular audiences, and grow your brand awareness. 

To wrap it up, both Facebook and Google offer immense options that can contribute to your business growth if you put effort into setting up your ad campaigns properly.

And whether you decide to choose to use both PPC platforms or one over the other, it’s essential that you always track and measure your results to know what works best for your company.

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Olia Batyr
Olia Batyr
Olia is a senior copywriter and content creator at Zima Media. She leverages her marketing skills and training to craft attention-grabbing copy that converts. You’ll find her traveling around the world gathering inspiration when she’s not busy looking for missing Oxford commas. On a side note, Olia is also an ultimate adventure seeker and meme lover.
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