Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads: Which One is For You?

By Jake Peterson December 17, 2020
google ads vs facebook ads

For those that have used Google and Facebook (everyone), it’s impossible not to have come across ads on both platforms before. Google Ads pop up before your regular search results while Facebook Ads appear every few seconds while you’re scrolling through your feed.

Many business owners may see both of these types of ads and wonder how they can take advantage of these platforms. After all, there are roughly four million Google searches per minute and nearly three billion Facebook users. That’s a lot of potential eyeballs out there that you can get in front of.

Both Google Ads and Facebook ads are big parts of the digital marketing toolbox. They also both need plenty of evaluation before diving right in.

But when evaluating both platforms, which one makes more sense for your business? Who comes out in Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads? Or, should you use both?

What are Google Ads?

If you’ve ever made a search on Google, no doubt you’ve seen their ads appear. In fact, they look very much like the organic results later down the page.

google ads example

There are also a number of other Google Ads, such as display ads like banners on websites, Google shopping ads, and even video ads that can be streamed ahead of videos on YouTube.

But, the most popular Google Ads by far are the ones shown above, called search network ads.

For this simple search ‘web design company’, you can see these ads appear. If not for the ‘Ad’ next to their URL, you might think they were regular organic results. Clicking on one of those ads will take the user to a dedicated landing page or the company’s home page where they can find more information about that particular service.

What are Facebook Ads?

You’ve no doubt seen them while scrolling through your Facebook feed. Much like Google Ads, they blend right in and look like regular posts. People can like, comment, and share these ads just like they could a regular Facebook post.

facebook ads example

They’re a bit easier to spot, with their ‘sponsored’ tag added to the ad.

Which is Better: Google Ads of Facebook Ads?

Let’s start off with the big question: which platform is better? Which one should you be going with? Which digital ad service is best for my company?

The answer to this question, like most other things in the marketing and tech world, can be answered with ‘it depends’.

Frustrating yes, but don’t throw your hands up in agony quite yet.

The reason ‘it depends’ is that, as you can so clearly see, Google and Facebook Ads look completely different and are targeted at completely different markets.

If you’re wanting to increase brand awareness or drive users to your social pages, then Facebook may be the better platform. In the B2C (business to consumer) market, Facebook has come clear advantages over Google Ads. With the ability to add photos, videos, slideshows, and more, Facebook has the ability to show off their products and brands more effectively.

Google Ads, on the other hand, rely on titles and short descriptions to grab users’ attention and are meant to drive traffic with the intent to convert. Those looking to connect in the B2B market may see Google Ads as a clear favorite.

We’ll circle back around to this question after diving into both platforms.

Google Ads Benefits

Let’s run through the biggest benefits when it comes to Google Ads.

Different Networks

As shown above, there are different networks that Google Ads appears in. Not only do you have Search Network ads, but you also have Display ads, video ads, and a few others. These Display ads can be anything from large banners to small icons across millions of potential websites.

Some estimates state that Display ads are on 99% of the web, meaning you can get your brand in front of plenty of users no matter where they are.

A Huge Audience

Speaking of lots of users, advertising on Google gets you in front of just about everyone on the internet. With millions of searches every minute and users across the globe, it makes sense to start with Google. While you may be tempted to investigate other search engines, Google is in command of about 90% of all searches worldwide.

More Even Playing Ground

It could be easy for Google to simply give the top spot to those that have the largest budget, but Google’s model helps even small companies push their way to the top of search results. While budget is taken into account, Google Ads also uses a number of other metrics to determine the best ad for users.

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How Does Google Ads Work?

how does google ads work

At first look, Google Ads can be a bit confusing to the average user. You don’t buy ad space for your Google ad, but instead, you bid on certain keywords you want your ads to appear for.

This is why Google Ads is oft-referred to as paid search.

Let’s say you have a dog grooming business in Atlanta, Georgia. You want to appear in people’s search queries when they look for anything dog grooming-related. But, you can’t just pay X amount of money to be the top position for the query ‘dog groomer in Atlanta’.

Instead, you have to set a daily advertising budget for your ads and allocate money for search terms. This means you may be bidding on terms such as:


  • Dog grooming Atlanta
  • Dog groomer Atlanta
  • Atlanta dog groomer
  • Atlanta dog grooming
  • Mobile dog groomer Atlanta
  • Professional dog groomer in Atlanta

Each term is going to affect your budget differently as no two queries are created equally.

What are Google Ads Good For?

Before we touch on how to lay out a basic Google Ads strategy, let’s talk about what Google Ads are really good for.

As stated before, Google Ads is built around driving traffic with the intent to convert. This can be tracked through Google Ads to see how well your ads are converting. Google Ads are targeted towards those trying to solve an issue or make a buyer’s choice.

For example, there is no point in bidding on the search term ‘how tall is the Eiffel Tower’. People here are looking for information, not looking to make a buyer’s choice.

That’s why it’s important to focus on buyer intent keywords like ‘basketball shoes for men, ‘air conditioning service near me’, or ‘computer repair’. People here are looking to make a decision with their wallet and catching their eye first could help you land leads and conversions.

How Do you Win a Search Query?

To make sure you come out on top, you need to optimize two things: your bid amount and your Quality Score. Quality Score is a metric Google uses to measure your ability to display your ad for a certain query. It takes a few things into account:

  • Your historical account performance
  • The CTR (click-through-rate) for the ad and the ad group
  • Your ad’s relevance to the landing page
  • Your ad’s relevance to the ad group
  • Your ad’s relevance to the search query

Your bid amount is also going to play a role in grabbing that top spot. If you bid more than your competitor, then you’re more likely to come out #1. But, if your competitor has a higher Quality Score than you do and they bid lower, then they have a chance to beat you out.

This is how Google helps even the playing field and ensuring the highest bidder doesn’t always get the top spot.

How Much Does it Cost?

To understand how much it costs, we have to understand where your money is going.

When creating Google Ads, you’ll have a daily budget. This budget can be anywhere from $5 per day to $5,000 per day.

Google operates on what’s called PPC, pay-per-click. That means that every time a user clicks on your ad, the money will be deducted from your budget. It ‘costs nothing’ to display your ad on Google’s search results and only costs money when someone clicks on an ad.

The exact amount of money that will be deducted from your budget boils down to what’s called CPC or cost-per-click. Obviously, the lower your CPC the better. CPC is calculated by dividing the advertising cost by the number of clicks.

So, if you have a daily budget of $100 and your CPC is $1, that means 100 people can click on your ad and be directed to your website.

But, if your CPC is $10, then only 10 people can click on that ad before your daily budget is exhausted.

Those numbers are very cut and dry (if you ever see a Google Ads campaign that simple, please show us) and CPC fluctuates daily.

But, Google does reward you for a high click-through rate. The more people that click on your ad shows Google that it’s a relevant and important ad.

It all comes full circle, in fact. A high CTR means a higher quality score which means your ad will be showing on more and more search results.

What is a Good Cost-per-click?

This, again, depends on your business. While Google claims that advertisers make $2 for every $1 spent, that shouldn’t be the take-home statistic.

Many businesses aim for a 4:1 or even 5:1 revenue-to-ad ratio, but that can vary greatly depending on the type of business you have.

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Let’s go back to our dog grooming example.

dog groomer google

As we can see, competition for this term is low, search volume is low, and the money required to make the front page is also low. Prices range from less than one dollar to $8.32.

On the other side, the term ‘lawyer Atlanta’ is much more competitive.

lawyer atlanta google

The number of monthly searches is higher and the estimate to get on the front page for some terms is over $200!

So determining what a good CPC largely depends on the type of business you own. Lawyer fees are going to be much more than dog grooming fees, meaning it’s OK to aim for a higher CPC here.

We advise going with the 5:1 revenue-to-ad ratio. That will require some in-depth research on your end to figure out the exact CPC you’re going for, but it’s worth it in determining how successful your Google Ads will be.

Facebook Ads Benefits

What are the top calling cards for Facebook?

Customization and Creative Options

If you’re a visual and creative person, then Facebook ads have plenty of tools for you. While Google is a bit more static in their ads, Facebook allows you a lot of flexibility and customization when it comes to creating your perfect ad.

The Custom Audience Tool

While Google allows you to narrow your audience based on queries, you can really pinpoint your audience on Facebook. Their dashboard and tools make it easy for you to narrow down your target audience and who will be seeing your ads.

A Large Audience

Just like Google, Facebook has billions of daily users all around the globe guaranteeing your ability to reach and connect with your audience. Even though it’s slipped in popularity in the last few years, it’s still a huge platform with plenty of potential.

How do Facebook Ads Work?

how do facebook ads work

Facebook ads, on the other hand, have their own system.

Facebook, and other social platforms, fall into the paid social category of ads. Your money is going to go to get your ads on Facebook feeds on screens all around the world. Facebook operates on a number of different payment models, like CPC and others.

To display your ads to the right people, Facebook lets you create a custom audience target where you can narrow people down by geographical area, gender, age, education level, and more.

What are Facebook Ads Good For?

While Google Ads are designed for buyer’s intent, Facebook ads excel at a number of things.

They are particularly effective in being able to increase brand awareness, get more people to like your business or blog page, have people watch a video, and yes, drive sales and conversions.

Facebook ads offer more flexibility in their creation. While Google Ads are more straightforward in their creation, Facebook allows you to show off your creative side.

What is Facebook’s Custom Audiences Feature?

When signing up for Facebook, you had to give the social media giant your basic information. Advertisers are able to use this information to target their ads to a specific group, giving you some great targeting options.

If your company sells children’s toys in the state of Tennessee, then you can set your custom audience to target those who would be interested in purchasing toys. This would be people over the age of 30, people that are married, have certain interests, and live within a certain area.

From there, you can set up retargeting campaigns. If someone watched over 75% of your last video ad, they can be retargeted down the line to be shown other ads as well.

There are almost endless options when it comes to Facebook ads and it requires a bit of research and thought before jumping in.

How Much do Facebook Ads Cost?

Oh boy, there are many different ways that Facebook calculates cost. You do have a choice in how your costs are calculated, so let’s run through them all quickly.

  • CPA-cost per action. This action can be visiting your website, signing up for a newsletter
  • CPC-cost per click. This is the price you’ll pay for each time someone clicks on your Facebook ad.
  • CPL-cost per like. The price you pay each time someone likes your Facebook page after coming through your ad.
  • CPM-cost per mille. The price you pay for every 1,000 impressions on your ad.
  • CPV-cost per view. The price you pay each time someone watches your video ad.

As you can see, there are different options for how to calculate Facebook costs.

Facebook, and social channels, are generally cheaper than Google Ads.

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The average CPC on Facebook is under $1 while the cost per 1,000 impressions is around $7.

So how much you’ll spend will vary on what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you want people to sign up for your newsletter, then you’re going to want to start counting cost per action. If you want more likes on your business page, then you’ll have to choose cost per like. If you want to build up brand awareness, then cost per mille (impressions) is what you want to go after.

Should I Choose Google Ads or Facebook Ads?

After reading through this information, which one should you go with?

Our answer: both.

But using both depends on your business and advertising goals.

When You Should Go With Both

Google and Facebook are targeting two different audiences. While the users may be the same over both platforms, they are going to Facebook and Google for different reasons.

If you can target the user effectively on both platforms, then that’s a big reason to go for both platforms.

You can go after those with high buyer intent through Google while building up your brand and driving certain actions through Facebook.

Since Google Ads is (usually) more expensive, you want to make sure you’re targeting those with buyer’s intent in order to see a proper return on your investment.

Facebook, on the other hand, can target those same users and get them to like your business page, sign up for your newsletter, or watch your video ad. You can also retarget them there in order to try and drive them towards a conversion.

When You Should Go With Google Ads Only

There are definitely instances where Google Ads makes more sense. If you’re operating in a B2B (business to business) market, then it makes more sense for you to go with Google Ads. While there are opportunities for B2B over Facebook, you’re more likely to find buyer intent on Google.

For example, a business is more likely to find their mobile app developer through a search than scanning their Facebook feed.

You should also go with Google Ads if you’re looking to improve your search visibility. Mastering SEO can be tricky and you might not be able to secure the top spot with your work. Google Ads is a way to get you in the top results quicker, although coming with a cost.

When You Should Go With Facebook Ads Only

If you don’t have a dedicated website, then you should go for Facebook Ads. While you can technically operate Google Ads without a full website, you need to have a landing page in order to qualify.

Facebook ads, on the other hand, might be ideal for someone running a podcast, a newsletter, or posting videos to their Facebook account. This doesn’t mean those with websites should stay away from Facebook ads, but those without a website should head to Facebook only.

You should also consider going with Facebook ads only if you want to target a very specific audience or you’re simply trying to increase brand awareness.

But, Don’t Rule Out Either

choosing between google ads and facebook ads

Even if you feel like you only want to go with one platform, that doesn’t mean you should ignore the other altogether. By making use of both, you can put your business in front of consumer’s eyes on a more frequent basis and drive traffic, conversions, and generate leads for different purposes.

One may make more sense now but never throw out the other platform.

How Do I Get Started?

There is a lot that goes into an effective Google Ads or Facebook ads campaign. There has to be market research, keyword research, ad creation, effective copywriting, and much more. It can seem like a lot, especially if you’re unfamiliar with either platform.

While it’s always good to try and learn, making too many mistakes too early could mean the loss of potential leads and throwing away money.

Fortunately, we are Google and Facebook ads experts at Atiba. We can meet with you, consult on your business goals, and help you decide which platform would be the most ideal. From there, we’ll craft an effective campaign and help you reach your audience while building effective leads.

If you’ve got a question or just want to talk about your options, reach out to us today for your project quote. We look forward to working with you!


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