February 21, 2017 | Rachel Vaughn

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Should it Really Be Either/Or?

So you’ve decided to live your dreams, turning your idea for artisanal ice cubes into a wildly successful and lucrative reality. Congratulations on this exciting development! We've been looking for the perfect accompaniment to our white wine punch. For a long time, we thought that accompaniment was a sense of deep and abiding loneliness (also, Tang), but realize now that what our signature beverage really needed was frozen water perfumed with cardamom and beef broth.

Now, in addition to safeguarding your secret ice recipe against jealous competitors, you’ve got to get the word out -- starting with a marketing campaign tailored to your ideal buyer persona. But despite the obvious need for an ad component in your strategy, you may not be sure where to place them or in what formats. 

Deciding where to put your PPC advertising money can be difficult. With finite resources to spend, how do you know which platform will be most effective toward reaching your goals? What type of ads you create and select, and how you implement them into your strategy, is as important as the content itself.

If you don’t understand the difference between Facebook ads vs. Google ads, you're not alone. Many businesses operate under the assumption that they'd simply be choosing between variations on similar services for similar results. But while the goal for using each platform is the same – i.e. draw more customers to increase clicks and sales – your success depends on several factors. 

Facebook Ads

A man in a speedo posing in front of a blue background.Davis Hasselhoff as a photographic representation of Facebook

It’s the perfect tool for viewing news articles that your estranged relatives find interesting and for stalking your high school exes to see how many cats they’re currently hoarding. But Facebook is also a powerful channel to boost your advertising and inbound marketing numbers. Besides giving your brand a visible presence on social media, Facebook allows for better engagement between your company and customers through updates, photos, videos, polls, and comments. According to HubSpot, the majority of users expect the brands they use to be on social media as well, and are more likely to buy from companies with a strong social media presence.

Facebook ads enable you to deliver a sense of interactivity with your brand and products. The site's algorithm has recently changed, however, to prioritize posts shared by users rather than ones from brands and publishers, which can drastically shorten ad reach for some companies and drive up costs. This is why Facebook is better used to advertise specific products to very specific groups of consumers. The net you cast is smaller, but if you manage your ads well, your ROI could be higher and more reliable.

Google Ads


A man in a speedo and button down shirt posing in front of a red background.
David Hasselhoff as a photographic representation of Google.

A digital fountain of information on quantum computing, deforestation, and homemade salted caramel ice cream, Google has positioned itself as an indispensible and interwoven part of our online lives. While its email, document storage, and other services enjoy nearly as much popularity, the tech giant is best known as one of the world's foremost search engines. Over three billion searches a day take place on Google, which poses an irresistible opportunity for marketers to get their ads in front of an enormous audience.

Google ads function based on specific keywords that you’ve determined are most relevant to your business. The number of potential customers who come in through an internet search will depend on how well you've chosen your keywords and keyphrases, your ad copy, and your SEO. It's an ideal option for using minimal text to make your brand more visible in a competitive field while reaching targeted, but not stringently pinpointed, local audiences. 

Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Who Wins?

Short answer: your customers.

Even shorter answer: you.

A man does the splits while a fiery explosion takes place behind him.
Your artinsanal ice cube dreams are coming true.

But of course, that’s only if you know your buyer persona, and have a smart strategy in place to engage and encourage them down the funnel with your ads.

If you’re relying on PPC (pay per click) returns on your advertising, your data analytics should help you decide on the best direction in which to throw your budget. Consider a few things:

  • Your type of business. Is it B2B? B2C? In general, Google ads are a better bet for local business-to-business. While the format is much shorter and considerably less dazzling, you’ll be able to set yourself apart and snare more clicks from interested readers, shoppers, and leads as they browse.
  • What you’re selling. Services, software, and specialty/niche products probably aren’t going to do as well on Facebook, where consumer groups and their shopping habits are more heavily delineated. B2C ads for things like home goods, appliances, clothing, and furniture (items that photograph well and aren’t considered to be obscenely expensive), however, may grab much more attention, click-through action, and sales.
  • Your buyer persona(s). Who are you trying to engage? How are they likely to find, learn about, and interact with your business? How do they spend their time online? Where do they to make their purchasing decisions? Your insight into these groups should help make the choice between Facebook ads vs. Google ads more clear.
  • The type of ad. This depends largely on the needs of your brand, your budget (in time and resources), and the habits of your customers. As a quick rule, ads on Facebook perform better when customers are given different formats – including video, status updates, photos, and even live streaming – that keep the content fresh.

If you’re targeting local customers and businesses who are searching for your particular service or a related term, Google will be your most likely option. If you are selling a product that translates well visually to a very specific audience, you may want to go with Facebook.

There’ll Also Be Times You Don’t Have to Choose

Or rather, there’ll be times when you’ll have an inbound strategy that doesn’t demand an either/or approach. It could be that your ideal buyer persona straddles key Facebook and Google audiences, or you want to cover your bases for social media and search marketing.

A child suggests a solution to a problem and is hoisted into the air in celebration.

However, you’re still faced with a decision when it comes to apportioning your advertising budget between the two. In this case, let your data be your guide. Don’t be afraid of retargeting or adjusting your approach based on the results you see. While the information you have will help you to make a wiser decision, successful advertising still quite often involves a measure of testing and fine-tuning.

Your selection shouldn’t necessarily always boil down to a Facebook ads vs. Google ads endgame. What you'll need most is a comprehensive and realistic understanding of which ad platform will work best for your business and, if it’s warranted, the use of both services.

Improve your ad performance. Contact us to learn about combining inbound with PPC (it's PPFree)!

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Rachel Vaughn

Rachel Vaughn

As the content marketing manager for VIEO Design, Rachel Vaughn brought serious research chops and boatloads of personality to everything she wrote for VIEO and our clients. She recently relocated to Seattle on new adventures!

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