Considering paid advertising to promote your business? Online ad platforms have drastically improved since the Internet’s early years. But which one best suits your needs? Let’s dig into the two most popular, Google Ads and Facebook Ads, and explore their benefits and drawbacks.

How Do Google Ads Work?

Google Ads is what used to be AdWords, a Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising platform. You bid on target keywords, and Google delivers your ads to relevant users. You’re only charged when someone clicks on the ad — hence the name. However, you’ll need to set your maximum bid high enough to out-compete other advertisers.

Google Ads includes traditional PPC display ads, i.e. banners that show up around the web. As Google is a search engine, its primary source of traffic is its search results pages. Text-based ads show up here as sponsored listings, which makes them ideal for reaching people with high buying intent. Google Shopping ads allow you to directly promote your product pages.

Plus, Google owns YouTube, so Google Ads includes video ads. These diverse options allow marketers to mix-and-match their ad campaigns.

How Do Facebook Ads Work?

Facebook Ads charge you for your desired number of impressions (i.e. the number of times your ad is shown to people). You can run ads on Facebook and Instagram, where they will appear in users’ feeds. Other options include Messenger-based ads, promoting listings in the Facebook Marketplace, video ads, and sidebar display ads in some parts of Facebook.

Facebook offers a wide variety of advertising options. You can turn almost any business page post into a sponsored listing, or run a basic display ad campaign to your desired audience segment. Facebook will estimate the

price of the campaign and the number of impressions you’ll achieve. You do have to pay for the campaign even if you don’t get clicks.

The Facebook Pixel enables you to run retargeting campaigns on Facebook. This is a neat feature that delivers relevant ads to users who spent time on your website but didn’t make a purchase. They’ll see relevant ads to move them down the funnel when they log into Facebook.

Benefits of Google Ads

Ideal for Local and Solution-Oriented Search

The top advantage of targeting a specific keyword is the ability to deliver your message to someone who’s primed for it. While on Facebook, ads appear randomly throughout the feed, a Google Search Ad answers a query, e.g. “bike repair shop near me.” As Google hosts more than 5.8 billion searches per day, there’s a lot of potential to present your brand as a solution. Plus, you can use Google’s geolocation tools to serve the most relevant ads — a bonus if you have storefronts in multiple regions.

High Potential for Conversion

Because Google Ads tap directly into users’ overt interests, they’re better suited to audiences with high purchase intent — and they’re more likely to convert. The cost-per-click is a bit higher than Facebook, but a higher conversion rate can lead to a better ROI.

Plus, Google Shopping offers immense potential to garner new prospects. By directly promoting your products to people with a high purchase intent, you can fetch more qualified leads. The simple visual format and instant product link entice shoppers to visit your site, primed to buy.

Better Control of Your Campaigns

The Google Ads platform allows you to fine-tune each campaign’s target keyphrases and audience, then continually tweak based on your past results. By contrast, Facebook Ads draws upon its own audience data to serve your ads — which, depending on your product and industry, may be less effective.

Google Ads’ level of control is ideal for running very specific campaigns for each segment of your audience and their position in the funnel. Plus, you

can take advantage of engaging ad formats such as YouTube Ads and Shopping Ads.

Benefits of Facebook Ads

Good for Brand Awareness Campaigns

Facebook is a gold mine of user data. Because it understands its users’ preferences and behaviors so well, it can deliver your ads to prospects who would be most interested in your brand. This gives Facebook Ads a major advantage over Google Ads, where you must target the ideal keyphrases to entice clicks. Facebook Ads campaigns are ideal for building awareness among users who may not otherwise encounter your brand.

Highly Visible in Most Contexts

Facebook Ads blend seamlessly into the feed, where they’re more likely to capture attention. Remember, many users have ad-blockers installed that prevent them from seeing display ads on websites and blogs.

The platform also allows you to customize your campaigns for desktop vs. mobile, so you can optimize your results for different browsing experiences.

Drawbacks of Facebook Ads

Expensive with a Possibly Low ROI

As mentioned, Facebook Ads are charged per campaign, and you must pay that amount no matter how many clicks you get. While the average cost-per-click is lower than on Google Ads, you’re paying for impressions, not clicks. This can make Facebook Advertising a waste of funds if your campaign isn’t perfectly tuned. It’s also worth noting that Facebook Ads are tied to your business page. If that’s not optimized, you’ll likely experience poorer results.

Not Ideal for High Buyer Intent

While Facebook can put your product in front of a lot of people, there’s no guarantee they want to see it. Social users don’t want to be sold to, and many of them find ads annoying.

Facebook Ads are more effective for retargeting campaigns, which reach users who have already expressed an interest in your brand. If your product

is something with a highly social aspect or an “impulse buy” appeal, it will likely perform better. However, if you want more immediate conversions or to capture search-driven buyer intent (e.g. “hiking gear online”), go for Google Ads.

So Which Do You Choose?

Many marketers use both Facebook and Google Ads, depending on their needs. For most brands seeking to maximize their conversions, optimize their advertising budget, and reach a broader audience, Google Ads is ideal. The extensive customization and transparency make it easier to understand and refine your target audience. From there, you can regularly repeat and tweak your campaigns to grow your brand reputation — and your revenue.