Google Ads offers a wide reach and more conversion-ready audiences, while Facebook has more customizable targeting and brand awareness to complement them. When it comes to Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads? With the right marketing strategy, the two working together are a recipe for strong ROI.
Here, you’ll find:
- Google Ads pros and cons
- Facebook Ads pros and cons
- A budget breakdown for paid search and paid social
- Which platform is best for your goals
Pay-per-click (PPC) channels are a dime a dozen.
So how do you decide which ones deserve your hard-earned advertising budget, from TikTok and Instagram to Google and Bing?
Today, we compare two of HawkSEM’s go-to platforms: Google Ads vs Facebook Ads.
You might prefer to stick to one or the other, but as our paid social marketing expert Magnolia Deuell points out: You need both to truly maximize your reach and impact.
Join us as we walk through the pros and cons of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads and show you how each one draws new audiences and killer sales.
Google Ads: Pros and cons
Google Ads is the search network giant’s built-in PPC platform that rewards businesses who play by their algorithms (and higher price point) with top-SERP status.
It’s known for quick traffic and conversion results, even though Google campaign success doesn’t come without significant investment.
With an average CPC of $2.69, this PPC platform takes a toll on your marketing budget. But its high conversion rate, massive reach, and purchase intent make Google Ads a vital platform for your PPC strategy.
Pro #1: High purchase intent for niche brands and expensive products
People who type specific items or products into Google already know what they want, meaning Google’s search intent is a serious pro for your ad strategy.
Of course, that doesn’t always translate to instant revenue. Your potential customers might search for industry knowledge and information before they feel ready to purchase your product.
Still, Deuell says that Google Ads places your product in front of people with high purchase intent:
“Last-click attribution methods typically show that direct/paid search traffic drive the most conversions,” says Deuell.
Let’s say you own an accounting SaaS business, and a 40-something VP of a big retailer needs new accounting software.
He might type in “accounting software for enterprise businesses,” and find your SaaS business at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). He could decide to make a purchase right then and there, and turn into a new customer on the spot.
This purchase intent in Google Ads campaigns becomes especially valuable for brands in super niche industries, or ones that sell expensive products. You still need to sell your value, but it’s a lot easier if someone is actively searching for it.
Of course, your customers also search on Facebook (aka Meta). The only difference is they don’t do it as often as they do on Google (but more on Facebook search later). Most of the time, Meta Ads appear as “interruption” ad placements, where they appear randomly on your potential customer’s newsfeed.
While both ad platforms are hugely popular, we’d say Google is even more of a household name.
Pro #2: Massive reach
We won’t discount Facebook’s 3 billion monthly active users (MAU). But Google boasts a whopping 8.5 billion searches daily. Chances are, your product will fulfill one or two of those Google searches, right? Well, it’s not really about chance. You need a well-oiled PPC strategy to land on your ideal customers’ SERPs.
But back to Google’s reach. No matter your target audience or how niche they are, they probably use Google.
The fact that Google offers increased chances of reaching your audience with their universality is one of the most powerful benefits of the platform, but it doesn’t come cheap.
Con #1: More expensive
Tons of factors influence marketing costs; however, Deuell tends to see higher ad spends and average cost per click (CPC) on Google Ads than Facebook:
“Paid search is typically more expensive on a CPC basis, but the conversion rates are typically higher.”
But does that mean smaller businesses and startups should exclude Google Ads in favor of Facebook? Absolutely not. Channel diversification is key for bottom-line ROI.
Meaning? The higher ad spend isn’t as much of a con if paired with more return on your investment. Deuell shares how to make the most of your Google Ads:
“This [higher CPC on Google Ads] is why it’s important to measure your marketing efforts as a blended return on ad spend (ROAS)/ROI vs. trying to compare costs per acquisition by channel,” says Deuell.
Con #2: More comprehensive to manage
From the Google Display Network (image ads) to text ads, Performance Max, Shopping, and YouTube, brands already have a lot on their plate working with Google Ads.
But once you dive deeper into campaign account structures, each campaign demands a ton of tweaking and details that make things difficult to manage.
Ad scheduling and automation make it more efficient if you have a solid handle on the platform, but they can quickly overwhelm the average business owner.
Overall? Google Ads is the clear winner for purchase intent and wider audience reach. Still, Deuell reminds us that no effective advertising strategy relies on just one paid channel to drive business performance.
You want to leverage the strengths of both Google Ads and Facebook Ads.
Facebook Ads: Pros and cons
In the fight of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, the latter’s unique benefits may surprise you.
You might know the social media platform Facebook for Messenger, photos, and keeping in touch with friends. But Facebook users present a prime audience network to market your brand.
The platform allows this through Facebook Ads, a PPC platform that focuses on creative assets and detailed targeting, while offering a slightly cheaper pricing than Google ($1.72 versus Google’s $2.69).
Pro #1: More customizable and granular targeting
We talked about the power of search queries and relevant keywords with Google Ads, but does it work similarly on Facebook? Not exactly.
A potential customer on Facebook might not type in a high-intent keyword in the Facebook search bar. However, Facebook Ads targeting harnesses a ton of other relevant criteria like:
- Connections: People who have “liked” your Facebook pages
- Apps: Downloads and purchases
- Age: Most people plug in their birthday on their profile
- Career: Job title, industry, employer
- Life events: Birthdays, bar mitzvahs, weddings, etc.
- User behavior: Device type and purchase history, website visit history
- Interests: Hobbies and passions demonstrated by groups and likes
Google Ads search intent lets you tap into a niche audience who knows they need your product.
However, Facebook gets just as deep into the details to find top-of-the-funnel customers likely to respond well to your brand. Demographics, job information, hobbies, and interests are all valuable insights to create a solid audience persona for targeting.
Facebook also takes things a step further with lookalike audiences, which helps you identify even more of an audience that shares similarities with your existing target. And if your audience has already seen your ads? You can use retargeting to seal the deal.
Pro #2: More creative ad types
Your Google Ad might convert just fine with its optimized headline, persuasive ad extensions (links for contact and other relevant pages), and well-written description.
But what if you’re an ecommerce biz that sells gorgeous leather boots? You can’t sell them with just text-based ads, can you? You need visuals, so you pick a Facebook Carousel ad to strut your product:
Of course, you have variety in Google ad formats as well. Shopping ads and display ads also let you leverage the power of imagery.
But they just don’t compare to Facebook’s vast variety of creative ad types for brands in entertainment, arts, retail, and design; industries in which images and videos speak directly to their competence and unique value propositions (UVPs).
Carousel ads also mimic the browser’s shopping experience with a swipeable series of product photos.
Even though your audience didn’t actively search for “high-quality leather boots” on Facebook, the nature of this ad type appeals even to top-funnel customers and builds brand awareness.
Pro #3: Superior for demand and building brand awareness
What leads up to someone typing “L’INTERVALLE winter boots” into Google? Sure, the searcher has the purchase intent now, but that didn’t happen overnight. Perhaps a friend recommended the brand to them.
Or more likely?
L’INTERVALLE has a solid Facebook Ads strategy that made this searcher aware of the brand. Deuell says that creates demand for a product.
“Taking a step back and looking at a multi-channel attribution report will open analysis to where all of that demand is coming from,” she explains. “Hint: it’s normally paid social!”
Maybe you didn’t land a purchase with the Facebook campaign right away, but Deuell says the platform plays an undeniable role in your Google Ads conversions.
“Especially for small businesses where brand awareness is crucial to filling the pipeline and driving demand,” says Deuell. “Paid social media (and other upper funnel tactics) play a critical role in driving demand within lower-funnel efforts like search.”
Con #1: Limited local audiences
Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads offer geographical targeting options in your ad campaigns. However, Google Ads has more potential to reach location-specific audiences just by the sheer number of people who use the search engine every day.
Facebook advertising only lets you target users in up to 25 countries and up to 250 cities.
And while you can also target states and up to 50,000 zip codes, there are limitations for businesses that rely on local sales:
“Hyperlocal businesses can be hard to scale on Facebook,” says Deuell. “For example, if you are looking for a 24- to 34-year-old business owner in a specific zip code, your campaigns will likely not be sustainable due to limited audience size.”
Con #2: Limited demographics for certain industries
Facebook has received some flack for discriminatory ad targeting. The platform used to allow ad targeting based on political affiliation, religion, and ties to charitable organizations. However, they’ve removed these features to keep advertising more ethical.
Are targeting rules more stringent if you’re in a certain industry?
“Protected categories, like housing, education, and credit offerings remove a lot of demographic-based targeting options on Facebook to ensure there are no discriminatory practices within the advertising strategy,” says Deuell.
We’ve covered the pros and cons of each platform. Now, let’s talk about the money.
How much of your budget should go to Google Ads vs Facebook Ads?
While HawkSEM has a wide roster of clients spanning various niches, we typically recommend a trusted formula for budget allocation. Ideally, 30% of your marketing budget should go toward paid advertising platforms:
- Paid social: 10%
- Paid search: 20%
As for the remaining 70% of your marketing budget looks like this:
- Email marketing: 25%
- SEO: 20%
- Organic social: 25%
We know, we know—talking about budget allocation isn’t exactly thrilling. Fortunately, we’ve got the blueprint for how to split your marketing budget.
As for which platform deserves more of your attention…
Which should you use: Google Ads vs Facebook Ads?
Bottom-funnel lead generation, high click-through rate (CTR), and massive audience reach are serious benefits to making Google Ads work hard for your advertising strategy.
But online advertising on Facebook Ads gives you high engagement and awareness metrics that propel people to convert via Google search ads in the first place.
“Channel diversification and a solid marketing mix strategy is key to bottom line ROI,” says Deuell.
If you’re a B2B business questioning the effectiveness of Facebook for your industry, think again. Don’t underestimate the power of a B2B Facebook Ads strategy. While Facebook is more popular for B2C brands, this advertising platform is perfect for targeting business decision-makers by job title and industry.
Just ask our financial SaaS client TimeWarp Trading. We refined their landing page messaging, researched relevant keywords and audiences (via Facebook’s job and industry targeting), and conducted a slew of A/B tests to optimize each campaign.
The results? A whopping 471% boost in ROAS.
So who takes the gold in the battle between Google Ads vs Facebook Ads? Each have upsides and downsides, but think of them as the dynamic duo of your marketing family. While they may have different characteristics and functions, they complement each other (and your ROI) perfectly.
Deuell brings it home: “Each channel has pros and cons. The biggest note is that you should not put all of your eggs in one basket.”
But let’s be real: we don’t always have the bandwidth to juggle everything. Similarly, your internal team might be too busy taking care of your existing customers to dedicate ample time to learn how to use Google Ads and Facebook Ads for effective marketing campaigns.
At HawkSEM, omnichannel marketing is our forte. Our team of PPC and SEO strategists are masters of social and search channels, consistently delivering an average 4.5X ROI for our clients. Now it’s your turn to be one of them.