Google Ads VS Facebook Ads

Google ads vs Facebook ads


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George Panayides

Digital Marketing Specialist

Google Ads VS Facebook Ads

Spoiler Alert, They Both Win Your Wallet...

Quick summary:

Google Ads work very well for local businesses. It directly targets active searches, connecting your services with people’s needs. It’s especially effective in specific local niches with targeting options to ensure you don’t waste your budget. On the other hand, Facebook Ads are beneficial for emerging markets or brands with less search volume to create buzz and generate sales. But Facebook can fall short in small, local areas IF the content doesn’t grab attention or the audience is too small. I always ensure both platforms are strategically optimised to prevent overspending. I recommend starting with a small budget to test each platform, then you can understand which platforms generate the best ROI.

Break Down Of Search Engines Vs Social Media

When you are comparing Google ads vs Facebook ads, you need to look at the bigger picture. Both of them run completely on separate channels or platforms. Google runs on the Google search engine platform, whereas Facebook runs Meta social media platform.

Simply put, this can cause huge differences in the two, but also some very close similarities as well. Although they are both different, they are also both very similar and I’m going to break it all down for you.

How does Google ads work?

Well, very simply put Google ads work on a pay per click model. This means when a user searches for a term, advertisers can actually bid on that ‘term’ or ‘keyword’ to have their ad shown to that user. 

The bid placed by the advertiser is made up of multiple different factors such as relevance, ad quality, bid amount and more. Google’s bidding model means that advertisers using their platforms are only charged then a user clicks on their ads. 

Friendly Analogy: Imagine a fair with many lemonade stands. You want people to visit your stand. Every time someone shows interest in lemonade or comes to the lemonade area, you shout (your ad) to attract them. The louder or more appealing your shout (ad quality or bid amount), the more likely you’ll attract someone to your stand.If they come over to your stand (click your ad), you pay a small fee for shouting out.


How does Facebook ads work?

On the other hand, Facebook works on a model where advertisers can create ads and show them to specific user groups based on their demographics, interests and behaviours. Similar to Google, Facebook does use an auction system for its ad placements.

This is based on factors like the ads quality, placements and campaigns objective which we will cover shortly. You can set a daily or lifetime budget and start showing your ads to a large variety of countries and audiences within Facebook’s platform.

Friendly Analogy: Facebook Ads is like placing a digital billboard in a busy shopping mall. You select who sees it based on their interests (target audience) and decide your spending (budget) for the best spot (ad placement). The more you invest and the more eye-catching your billboard (ad quality), the better exposure it gets among the right shoppers (campaign effectiveness).


Google Ads & Facebook Ads Both Target Different Traffic Types

It’s important to know that both Google and Facebook are used to target different types of traffic or audiences. You will likely have more success with one, compared to the other when it comes to a specific type of traffic you are targeting.

Google ads targets hot traffic (bottom of the funnel)

Usually, if you are looking to generate sales very quickly you want to be targeting people who are ‘ready to buy’ or ‘hot traffic’ also known as bottom of the funnel users. These are users who already know about your product/service and are ready to buy now. 

Google ads work perfectly for this, much better than what Facebook can do. This is because users are actively looking for your product or service through search. Your job is to then get them to choose you over your competition. 

Facebook doesn’t seem as effective unless you’re doing remarketing. This is likely due to the fact that your ads are going to be shown to people who are not actively looking for your product or service. 

Overall, Google ads is the best for those who are looking to target their customers who are ready to buy now through the search platform. 

Google ads can target cold traffic on the display network

Now, Google ads also has options for you to target cold traffic or start getting users into your funnel through its display network. This allows you to use Google’s network to display visuals like videos and images across websites.

This means, you can actually target cold traffic on Google by displaying your ads on websites and hoping that the right audiences or users click through and convert on your website.

However, if you are looking at building a funnel of cold users, then I’d strongly recommend Facebook.

Facebook ads targets cold traffic (top of the funnel)

Which brings me nicely onto my next point. Facebook ads are perfect for targeting cold audiences who may not know about your product or service yet. You can then funnel them through education, inspiration and updates into buying your product or service.

This is where Facebook works its magic. Because it has such a fantastic way of reaching out to so many people and optimises based on results and engagement rates, you can quickly narrow down which users are right for you and get them in your funnel for a cheap price.

In my opinion, Google ads doesn’t do this as effectively as Facebook ads, nor as affordable either. Facebook is perfect for marketers who are looking to target the top of the funnels users. Create buzz around your product and generate leads and sales.

Facebook ads can target bottom of the funnel with remarketing

Now, that’s not me suggesting that Facebook is only good for top of the funnel marketing. It’s actually a powerhouse for remarketing as well. You’ll usually find expert Facebook ads marketers will create ad funnels inside of Facebook to build warmer audiences.

For example, you can run a reach ad to show your video to a lot of people, then build out an audience of users who watched 50% of your video. Now you have a warm audience you can re market to who already know your brand.

This type of marketing is brand building, as well as results driven. Something that you just cannot quite get if you are only using the Google ads platform.

You can also do location based campaigns to target local restaurants as well, which can be quite effective if done well.

Overview Of Cost Structure Of Each Platforms

Of course, it’s important to know exactly how much each platform costs. Well, I can tell you now for a fact, neither is cheaper than the other. Both of them allow you to set your own budgets and the results are going to heavily depend on your industry.

Not only that, but also on your marketing. If your marketing isn’t very good on socials then you’re likely going to get low results. This isn’t because Facebook or Instagram are ‘bad’. It’s because you haven’t found your niche style of advertising yet. 

On average, Google and Facebook ads roughly cost the same but your metrics on each platform will be very different and will depend on your end goals. 

It’s worth noting that both platforms do have other bidding options, but I have just chosen the most commonly used ones. 

Breakdown of Google ads cost structure

So, here’s a quick breakdown of the cost structure set by Google ads. Hopefully you can understand the difference between Facebook. 

Google ads mostly uses cost per click costing structure

This is where users click on your ads, and then you get charged. I found this cool blog on the average cost per click for each industry, which might help you get a better understanding of how much Google ads will cost you specifically.  

Like Facebook, you can set a daily budget or lifetime on Google ads

Similar to Facebook, Google ads lets you set a daily budget or a lifetime budget. This way you can either control what you spend every day/month. Or you can control how much you want to spend altogether on a campaign. 

Breakdown of Facebook ads cost structure

Now, Facebook ads work a little bit differently compared to Google ads. They tend to work by the budget that is available and how many results they can get for that budget. This can change depending on clicks, views, engagements and many other metrics.

I actually think that Facebook’s cost structure is more advanced and technical compared to Google which is a little bit more simple. Facebook seems to have more ways they calculate price and the cost can change based on your goal objective.

Facebook ads mostly uses a ‘highest volume’ bidding model

Facebook works through the highest volume model. This aims to get you the most results for your budget. This is kinda similar to Google ads maximise conversions bidding strategy. The more budget you have, the more results you tend to get. 

This is because Facebook’s algorithm shows your ads to more people the more budget you have. This is different to Google who will only show your ads to those who are searching your keywords or search terms. 

Like Google, you can set a daily budget or lifetime budget on Facebook ads

Similar to Google ads, you can set a daily budget on Facebook ads or set a lifetime budget. Either is good and will work well. Likely marketers set lifetime budgets for single campaigns, daily budgets for ongoing lead generation efforts. 

Like I mentioned before, the cost between Google ads and Facebook ads are very similar because you can set the budget. There isn’t a one size fits all answer for this because it really depends on your marketing efforts.

Ad Formats & Placements For Google And Facebook ads

Next up, the difference between ad formats on Google ads versus Facebook ads. Now, because they are totally different platforms, the ad placements and formats do vary significantly.

Even the display network is very different to Meta’s Instagram and Facebook ads. This is the most important thing about testing on both platforms to find out which platforms generate you the best results.

Google ads has Search, Display, Youtube and Gmail

In terms of ad placements on Google ads, you’ve got the main 4 which I’ve got through details on here:

Search: This is where you show up in the search results.
Display: Showing your ads on relevant websites on the display network.
Youtube: Running video ads on Youtube to reach your audience.
Gmail: Campaigns to show up in customers gmail inbox promotions tab.

So if you’re looking for a larger variety, then Google ads might be for you.

Those are your main categories for Google ads which aren’t found in Facebook ad campaigns either. I’ve also broken down a quick list of all Google ads types below.

List of different types of ads on Google

Search Text Ads
Display Ads
YouTube Ads
Gmail Ads
Responsive Ads
Shopping Ads
App Ads
Local Service Ads
Remarketing Ads

Facebook has Facebook and Instagram

On the other hand, Meta do have Facebook and Instagram as their main placements and format for ads. All are pretty similar which are reaching out to cold audiences by pushing ads on them based on targeting settings.

In terms of placements, these are mostly in the format of images and videos across the platforms. So if you are looking for a way to reach a lot of people and have a creative product or service which you can use images and content creation on, Facebook ads might be best.

List of different types of ads on Facebook

Search Text Ads
Display Ads
YouTube Ads
Gmail Ads
Responsive Ads
Shopping Ads
App Ads
Local Service Ads
Remarketing Ads

Google Ads Is Much Better For Local Reach Compared To Facebook Ads

Where I can be more specific about which platforms are better, Google ads or Facebook ads is when it comes to your industry.

Based on my experience and data working with both platforms, I can confidently say that Google ads works better for service based local businesses.

From what I’ve found, this is because Facebook’s audiences become too small for the algorithms to optimise when targeting a local area and then it simply cannot exit the learning phase so ends up spending money without great results.

On the other hand, Google ads work perfectly with smaller areas and actually tend to work better because they don’t waste your budget on irrelevant search terms or locations.

Local serviced based businesses would typically perform better on Google ads

To put it simply, if someone was looking for a plumber, they would not wait until they saw an ad on Facebook. They would go to Google and search for a local plumber. Therefore, when it comes to local search and performance, Google wins here. 

If a local business that targets a small area wants to use Facebook, I’d probably say consider it wisely first and maybe test the waters on a smaller budget. It seems like Facebook’s algorithms struggle with the small audience and stop working after a few weeks. 

My recommendation, try setting up some Google ads for this one. PS. I’ve got another review on the performance max campaign here as well. 

Google Ads Considers User Intent, Whereas Facebook Considers Engagement

Another area that is different between Google versus Facebook ads is the intent behind the advertising. As we know, Google ads use the search platform. Therefore, ads can be tailored towards the search intent behind the user’s search.

Marketers can take advantage of what the users are actively looking for, and what intent they have behind their search e.g. buying intent, learning intent etc.

You can tailor your marketing around converting these customers based on your intent, or showing them the content you want based on their customer journey stage.

Differently, Facebook doesn’t use intent behind it but instead it uses engagement. This is how you can engage users to take action with your business or product. By educating, inspiring or emotionally investing your customers, they will move towards a buyer state.

What is the main difference between the two?

The main difference between the two is the relevance. With Google ads, people know about your service so therefore you can hit them with unique and different offers.

With Facebook, people may not know about your brand or service so you need to hit them with ultra relevant content that will engage them.

Both Platforms Work Differently For Many Industries

This is a very important factor to consider. So, each platform works differently, and effectively for many types of businesses or products. Therefore, the direct answer of whether or not Google or Facebook is going to be better for your business can only be told through data.

I’ve been running Facebook and Google ads for over 4 years now and I’ve seen them both work in some crazy industries. The funny thing is, maybe one works well in one industry but the other doesn’t work at all.

Generally, newer industries that have low search volume because people don’t know about them yet tend to work fantastic on Facebook because it’s new and has low competition. Also, Google doesn’t have many people searching for it yet, so it doesn’t work as well.

It’s worth testing a budget on both to find out if it works for you

This means, you are actively going to have to test both platforms to either find out which one works, or which one generates the best return on investment for you. Now, this goes deeper than the number of leads as well.

Try to track using a CRM when a lead turns to sales. You may find for example, Facebook generates more leads but less of them turn to sales. Whereas Google ads generate less leads, but more turn into sales.

Both Platforms Can Become Expensive If They Are Not Optimised Well

Of course, you can say this with any type of marketing. However, Google and Facebook are both certainly renowned to chew through budget if they are not set up well or optimised correctly.

With Google, the setup is a huge factor in bringing the cost down and the quality of your ads and landing page. With Facebook, it’s the quality of your content. If your content is not engaging, you will be burning through cash.

Be careful with campaigns that you have lack of control with. Both Google and Facebook provide options that mean you can set up a campaign quicker that doesn’t tend to get as good results.

On Facebook you have the boost option which gives you limited optimisation for goals, set up, ads, A/B testing and audiences.

On Google you have the smart campaign, which gives you limited options for basically anything and tends to clean through everyone’s budget without getting a single result.

Both Platforms Get Better Results The Better Your Brand Presence

Brand presence is such an important thing coming in 2024. It seems the future is going towards this as we see many fake online businesses, AI generated companies and more. Your brand is really going to make the biggest difference.

And this comes into play when you’re looking at results on Google versus Facebook. Both platforms are going to get better results when you have a strong brand presence.

This is likely because your content is quality, the website is quality and packed full of trustworthy content. Using callouts to help show your brand experience and quality is important as well.

Create brand specific landing pages for Google ads

To help build your Google ads brand presence you can design and build specific landing pages for different types of your Google ads services or products you are actively marketing.

This means you are going to get better results because your landing page is brand specific, looks much more professional and trustworthy. Alongside high quality socials presence this will gain a good brand reputation.

Create comprehensive and up to date social profiles for Facebook

Same applies for Facebook, creating comprehensive social profiles that are regularly updated with fresh new content can help build your following and brand reputation.

Alongside Google ads or hot traffic coming to your site you will build out your conversions and brand authority within no time. It’s a very effective duo to get quick results but obviously costs money.


So, all in all the honest conclusion is that although this blog will guide you on roughly which is the best platform, you won’t actually know until you test a small budget on each.

There are so many features and campaign types to both Google and Facebook, so also consider that you will likely be using both for different styles of marketing e.g. lead gen, brand awareness, traffic etc.

Overall, both platforms are great and can generate an honest return on investment. If you are only using just one of these platforms, at least try both of them to see which one you are getting a better return on investment with.

Although different, they are similar in their own way. And here is my honest review of Google vs Facebook ads. There we go!

Leave your thoughts in the comments below or ask any questions and I’ll try and help as much as possible.


About The Author

George Panayides is a digital marketing specialist, focusing on SEO, Google ads, Social media marketing, website development and link building. He’s looking to help other freelancers or business owners become a master in their industry and move towards a better, more successful future.

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Hey, it's George. I'm giving away my marketing secrets (because apparently, I'm just that nice 🙄). You can thank me by linking to my content ha ha.

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