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Facebook Ads or Google AdWords: Which One’s for You?

This guest post is by Alexis Thompson.

“The real fact of the matter is that nobody reads ads. People read what interests them, and sometimes it’s an ad.”—Howard Luck Gossage

The goal of advertising is not to gain the most visibility; it is to attract the most attention. The quote above says it all. How many people do you think really read the ads in their entirety? Not many I would say.

However, people do take their time to look further into whatever interests them the most—be it an article, a video, or even an ad. That’s why ads can mean more traffic for your blog.

The question of ad space

Advertising in the search network is totally different from advertising on display networks (that is, on ordinary websites). The former relies on the ads standing out among those of competitors who are also targeting the same keywords. The latter relies on attracting the interest of the websites’ visitors.

Chief among the search advertising platforms is Google AdWords (Note that Google still dominates the search game with nearly two-thirds market share).

Google ads for business courses

Google search advertising

On the other hand, social networks, such as Facebook, have added another dimension to display network advertising. Facebook is considered to be the social network, with nearly a billion accounts worldwide.

Facebook display advertising

There are other platforms but for now, let’s see just how Facebook ads fare against the ads from Google AdWords.

The advertising environment

Assessing the environment in which the ads run in is essential in determining which platform is best for you. Let’s say you’re an ordinary web user who wants to find cool Angry Birds games and information. You search for it in Google using the keyword “angry birds attraction.” Then you see this PPC ad below:

Sample search ad
(Note that this image is not a real advertisement and is intended for illustration purposes only.)

The ad above could be one of many similar ads that would show on Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). Other companies promoting Angry Birds attractions are likely to bid for the same keyword as well. Google AdWords simply allows businesses to advertise to people who are already looking for a product or service. The ads are shown in response to a certain demand.

Facebook ads, on the other hand, are shown in a different environment from Google ads. They’re shown to people who aren’t exactly looking for a product or service but could be interested in it anyway. In other words, the demand is created by the ad. ON Facebook, ads are shown based on users’ attributes (determined from their profiles and network usage) and the language that’s used in the ad. The image below is an actual Facebook ad about the Angry Birds Cable Car.

Facebook ad

It’s important to note that the differences between these environments reflects the nature of AdWords’ search network ads and Facebook ads. AdWords also offers display network ads. The display network ads show on several partner websites based on the advertiser’s selected preferences.

Ad targeting on each network

Knowing how to target the right group of people using each network is essential if you’re going to spend only what is necessary to reach the right—and the right amount—of users.

Obviously, Google search ads are targeted on the basis of the keywords the user is searching upon, but you can also target users on the basis of other factors I’ll mention in a moment.

Google AdWords’ display network ads can be designed to target users based on their interests—data that’s collected from their user browsing history. So if the users have visited your website before, you can create ads to target those people as they browse through other similar websites. This is called “retargeting” or, on Google, it’s called Google AdWords Remarketing. Here you can set up a list of visitors to target and display your ads for those visitors on various sites on the web.

Facebook, on the other hand, relies on the data provided in their members’ profiles to target the ads you provide.

Both networks let you target ads based on the user’s geographic location, and using other demographic data (such as age and gender) that the networks have collected about users.

Know your goals

Before you can choose an option, you’ll want to list your goals for your advertising campaigns. Is it a short-term goal or a long-term goal? Are you selling a specific product or service, or are you trying to increase your brand awareness?

If your campaign aims to sell something specific, then Google AdWords is your best bet. People use the search engines because they are looking for specific solutions. All you have to do is meet that demand by bidding on the right keywords. Obviously, if you want a quick, short-term solution to your advertising needs, and you’re looking for specific conversion rates, then there’s no doubt AdWords is right where you should be.

If you want to increase your brand awareness and visibility, Facebook may be the way to go. Brand awareness is built by establishing lasting relationships. There’s no better place to do this than in social networks like Facebook, with its multitude of community members. It’s going to take some time, but once those relationships have been established, they’re bound to last longer than the impact you get from tactical, sales-focused ads.

Looking at ROI

How do the networks compare? According to this infographic:

This data reflects the average clickthrough rates for each network over the past couple of years. It would seem that results are stronger for Google ads. I mentioned earlier that brand advertising may better done in Facebook, but that doesn’t mean that it has no benefits when it’s implemented through AdWords. In fact, the total traffic for brand advertising through AdWords can reach up to 89%. Try it for yourself and see what brand advertising does for you—compare the results with your organic SEO.

On the other hand, since Facebook ads have a relatively low CTR, it’s recommended that advertisers aim for increases in comments, Likes, impressions, and active users through this advertising. In the long run, you will be able to build a solid fan base, thereby increasing your brand awareness and, consequently, sales.

Taking these differences into account, let’s try computing for an estimated ROI for both platforms.

For Google ads, let’s assume that there are 150 clicks over a given period, $2.00 is the cost-per-click (CPC), a conversion is worth $50.00, and conversion rate is 10%.

Google Ads ROI = (((Conversion Value x Conversion Rate x Number of Clicks) -
 (Ave. Cost per Click x Number of Clicks)) / Total Cost ) x 100
 = (((45 x 0.10 x 150) - (2 x 150)) / (2 x 150)) x 100
 = $187.50 (125%)

For Facebook ads, let’s assume that we get only a conversion rate of 2% and the CPC is $0.50, but all other factors remain the same.

Facebook Ads ROI    = (((45 x 0.02 x 150) - (0.50 x 150)) / (0.50 x 150)) x 100
 = $120.00 (80.00%)

In this example, we can see that Google ads provide a higher potential ROI than the Facebook ads. Take note that this is only an example and there are other factors that were not included, such as design labor costs for the ads, which you’d want to factor into your own calculations.

What’s the verdict?

At the end of the day, choosing the “best” network really depends on the advertiser’s goals.

By running ads on Facebook, you can cover the social media advertising aspect and effectively increase your brand awareness there. The goal is to generate interest in your business by targeting people that may have a need or want for your products and services in the future.

In addition, if you run ads on Google AdWords, you can target the people who are looking for your products and services at present.

If an integration of both internet marketing platforms can be done, all the better (as is recommended for SEO and PPC integration).

You might think that advertising’s too expensive—but that’s just how advertising is. It’s not bad to be aggressive and to take risks. In fact, taking calculated risks is highly recommended. So start crunching those numbers now and start building your traffic—and your business.

Alexis Thompson is a former Mountain Backpacker, Real Estate Sales Personnel and a 26 year old mother of 2 daughters, Sophie and Rhian. She is into almost all types of Music especially The Fray and Hillsong. She also has a passion in Singing and Scrap Booking. Follow her escapades on her Twitter.

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Comments

  1. I’ve used Facebook ads recently, and fairly happy with the engagement. Whilst the amount of likes for my $50 increased almost ten-fold, the engagement was low.

    With that said, there have been a couple of people who seem to be engaged with my brand. Hopefully they’ll convert to paying customers soon! :)

  2. Stanley Rao says:

    I go for face book because people here get attracted to those things that gives them the feeling that yes this is what i was looking for. And face book gives their clients what they want..

  3. Majid Ali says:

    Ads are a better way to attract the prospective customers only if that customers are exposed to a useful and interesting content through a media they use. For example, facebook ads are effective only for those who regulary use facebook while Google ads are useful who most of the time do research on google search engine.

  4. There was an article a few months back about Facebook’s advertising being ignored by most of it’s users. With this in mind, isn’t AdWords the obvious choice?

  5. Celine says:

    I just prefer to use adwords, because personally i never clicked on a facebook ad but i do on adwords :) i feel it is more relevant !

  6. This post follows on from a discussion I had yesterday on Facebook ads, we left it that I felt the FB ads were good for event based promotion rather than sales based promotion as this is more socially acceptable within the platform, so the end aim is important when choosing a method, also it fundamentally comes down to your goals in the first instance, ROI measures are and can be complex as in your article, but the actual effect on you bottom line target is easily noticeable. I hope that all makes sense, nice post.

  7. Alice Carey says:

    I’m starting to think that the future is in referrals; not in ads that appear on the side of the page, but from influencers I respect making relevant recommendations through social media. I see the likes of http://www.referr.co or other influence score based sites are heading in this direction.

  8. Ian Brodie says:

    One obvious difference and way of thinking about the two platforms is that with the Adwords search network your ads show to people who already know they need something (‘cos they’re searching for it). With Facebook your targeting is by demographics, what they like, etc.

    So while Adwords is by far the best if people are actively looking for solutions to problems or products, if they don’t know they need what you’ve got you simply can’t reach them as they won’t be searching.

    On Facebook you can find those people and show your ad to them. You’ll need to grab their attention as they weren’t looking for it. But it’s one of the few ways you can get your stuff seen by people who you think would want it if only they knew they did.

    Ian

  9. Ferb says:

    I would choose Facebook Ads rather than Google Adwords. Facebook Ads is functional, gives the user the opportunity to choose how they can display their ads. More importantly, we can choose who to display that ads to and upload image to attract more click onto ads.

  10. Arpith says:

    Facebook Ads are far more better than Google Adwords. I started my blog’s advertising campaign by using Facebook credits and it gave me hike in blog’s traffic. It all depends on our budget and the CTR we assign to display ads.

  11. Morgan says:

    Thank you breaking these two options down like this! I am going to refer to this article when speaking to my clients of their choices in advertising. I always appreciate detailed explanations of decision options, it makes the backing up of your decisions more meaningful.

  12. Brian Yang says:

    Well, I still prefer Google Ads since I benefit more from people who need my products and services. Though one can’t certainly tell that Google Ads > Facebook Ads. It’s all a matter of preference in the end.

  13. I´ve been using Adwords and Facebook ads, for more I like Facebook, I can invect only U$10 for 1 day, in One week I can test 5 ads, in Adwords The minimum is U$30, I have spend U$300 in one month (Adwords) with no results at all, and in Facebook I spend U$10 and give me U$100 in one single campaign.

    Every website got their very own audience. Very nice article.

  14. J. Delancy says:

    This is a solid post. Well written, instructional and informative. I will be Evernoting this article.

  15. Del says:

    How we use SEO and social media have changed….

  16. A. Kayastha says:

    Thanks Alexis for the awesome article. I’ve been running some ads for my product on both Google and Facebook. I see Facebook is more effective advertising platform as you have option to create pages and advertise. More importantly, you can update the users using their ‘page’ feature to boost sales.

  17. Mahesh verma says:

    According to me google adwords is the best way for online marketing. Facebook ads cannot defeat adwords baecuase in adwords you gets targeted visitors too, but in facebook ads you cannot.

  18. Adam says:

    Depend on our budgets exactly.. some times, adsword more convert than facebook, sometimes facebook more convert than adsense.

    http://webberita.com/eyriqazz-vs-denaihati.html

  19. Bernard R. says:

    This was a great study which confirms what we already knew — that Google is the best place to advertise.
    Facebook is a pretty good alternative but still needs some improvements.

  20. Phillip Y says:

    I have tried both Facebook and Adwords, the response is different. With Adwords you get an instant response while with Facebook ads , the response takes a while. I advertise my page for fashion, but people will like the content, follow the page , share the content with friends, but not come to the site on instant, though on a latter stage they click on the links. The main reason, is that users of social networks do not want to live the network once signed in, but they will share your content across and you will have chances on going viral.

  21. Indra says:

    I am thinking to use facebook ad and Adwords but not sure which is good for my small business I do not know?

  22. I prefer adwords. The reason is because people join facebook to find friends, google to search for information. I never clicked on a facebook ad. I think google is the best!

  23. muttaqien says:

    i also choose fb ads and i make service fb ads .

    but not all product can sell in facebook …

    myb the solution is adwords