So, you’re about to launch a marketing campaign, and the time has come.

It’s time to choose between Google Ads and Facebook Ads.

You want to get the best results for your time and money. So, this is an important decision.

We know making critical decisions like these can be daunting, and that’s why we’re here with a comprehensive comparison.

So, let’s put Google and Facebook in the ring.

These two advertising giants will be competing based on:

  • Audience size
  • Audience engagement
  • Advertiser equality
  • Ad formatting
  • Return on investment (ROI)
  • Audience targeting
  • Buyer intent
  • Cost effectiveness

Who will reign champion supreme?

Audience size

Needless to say, audience reach is key criteria for any advertising platform. Both Google and Facebook boast monumental worldwide audiences. Google manages upwards of 40,000 search queries every second with 1.2 trillion web searches each year. Facebook enjoys 2.8 billion monthly active users on its social platform. Both Facebook and Google offer impressive marketing reach. The key difference lies in their methodologies, with Facebook driven by granular social targeting and Google by precision search results.

Audience engagement

There’s not much point in having an enormous audience if the individual members of that audience aren’t engaging with your content. Audience engagement is another essential marketing pillar. Wherever you choose to run your ads, make sure it’s in a place where your particular audience is highly engaged. This will depend on a wide range of demographic factors. So do your research.

When it comes to engagement, both Facebook and Google are excellent.
Each platform excels in different areas. For example, Google’s shopping ads are proven to bring in new customers, whereas Facebook Messenger Ads boast an open rate of over 90%.

Ad formatting

This is where Google and Facebook start to diverge. The two platforms format their Ads very differently. Google Ads are majority text based. Facebook Ads are visual. PPC Ads in Google boast industry-specific features such as Ad extensions, sitelinks, user reviews, and location targeting. On the other hand, Facebook Ads are all about visual immersion and integrate seamlessly with user interfaces, newsfeeds, games, and videos in the form of sponsored content.

Return on advertising investment (ROAS)

Naturally, you’ll be expecting a return on your advertising investment. Both platforms promise excellent ROI potential. Facebook offers many attractive features in this regard – large audience reach, granular targeting, immersive ad campaigns. Likewise, Google has a proven track record. In fact, 72% of marketers who use Google Ads plan to increase their PPC spending. A major indication that the return on investment is healthy.

Audience targeting

When it comes to audience targeting, Google and Facebook work very differently. Facebook offers far more granular targeting options than Google – which primarily targets keywords for search purposes. There are pros and cons to both methods. Keyword targeted means that marketers using Google Ads don’t need to know exactly who they are targeting to bring in new leads from interested prospects. Your Ad will be visible to anybody who searches for relevant key terms in the search engine. Facebook, on the other hand, directly targets individual users.

Because Facebook is a social platform on which people share their lives in great detail, Ads can be targeted to individual users based on their unique beliefs, interests, values, and habits. Thus, advertisers on the platform can filter out users to match their target persona and target them specifically as part of their advertising campaign.

Buyer intent

Facebook and Google Ads target different layers of the marketing funnel.

As a general rule, Facebook Ads are best for building up brand awareness, while Google Ads are superior when it comes to fueling purchase intent.

If you have the marketing budget to use both Facebook and Google Ads, this can be a great way to capture leads at different points in the customer journey – from initial engagement to final purchase.

Cost effectiveness

The cost effectiveness of each platform depends heavily on the relative success of your advertising campaign and the return you’re able to generate from the initial financial investment.

For example, Facebook offers a slightly more competitive price per acquisition cost than Google Ads in some industries, but in others .

The average cost per action (CPA) for Facebook ads across all industries is $18.68. The average CPA in Google AdWords across all industries is $48.96 for search. However, the upfront cost isn’t the entire picture. Google Ads is more expensive outright, but the platform offers a much greater buyer intent meaning that it could land you a higher return on your investment.

Search versus social

Last but not least, we need to consider the search vs. social differentiator.

Google Ads offers paid search advertising while Facebook Ads is all about paid social advertising.

So, how do these differ?

Paid search is based on search keywords, which means you won’t be targeting a specific audience (let alone a specific user individually). Instead, marketers using paid search target users based primarily on their search criteria. The benefit of Google paid search is the variety of platforms on which you can market your brand. Your ads are not limited to the search engine itself but can also appear on YouTube, Google Shopping, Google Maps, Google Play, and the Google Display Network.

Paid social advertising is a radically different idea. Paid social advertising on Facebook is essentially the opposite of organic search engine optimization. In fact, there’s nothing organic about it. Marketers pay to reach specific social networks via the Facebook News Feed, Marketplace, Video Feeds, Messenger, etc. That way, products, and services can be marketed directly to individuals.

Paid social (Facebook) is best for customers at the beginning of their buying journey (aka customers checking out new products and services for the first time). Paid search (Google) comes into its own towards the end of the marketing funnel – at the point in a buyer’s journey when they are ready to make a purchase decision.

Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads, what’s the difference?

As you can see, Google and Facebook both offer highly competitive (and highly lucrative) advertising opportunities for digital marketers. PPC and social advertising promise high ROI and engaged audiences. In reality, neither is better than the other. The right platform for you will depend entirely on your audience and the point at which you want to target them.

What’s more, using both advertising platforms in tandem is also beneficial. Facebook and Google together offer marketers a two-pronged marketing attack where Facebook targets new leads and Google closes those deals down. Customers with purchase intent will almost always head to the search engine before buying.

If you ask me, it’s a match made in heaven.