This article is part of a larger series on Facebook.
Facebook Ads and Google Ads are the leading pay-per-click (PPC) ad platforms, though they are very different platforms with unique audiences and use cases. Google Ads is best for brands, products, or services people are actively searching for (e.g., plumbers), whereas Facebook Ads is best for advertising products or services a particular target audience isn’t necessarily actively searching for, but is likely to be interested in (e.g., new headphones).
One thing the two PPC platforms have in common is that both involve a considerable learning curve. For this reason, those who don’t have time to learn often choose to invest in professional ad management instead, such as with Hibu. This enables their company’s ad spend to go further and increases the return on investment (ROI). Get started with a free consultation today.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads at a Glance
Price (Average Cost-per-Click, or CPC)
Passive—Ad viewers may or may not be actively looking for a specific product, service, or brand; audience is targeted based on interests and demographic information
Active—Ad viewers are actively search for a product, service, or specific brand and are likely ready to buy
Comprehensive—User demographics, interests, life events, location, and buying behaviors
Limited—User demographics; largely relies on search intent
Ad Placement Options
Facebook (Feed, Right Column, Stories, Marketplace, and In-stream Video), Facebook Messenger, Instagram (Feed and Stories), and expanded Audience Network
Google and Google search partners (e.g., Amazon, The NY Times, The Washington Post, and search engines like Ask.com, Dogpile, and Lycos)
Image, Video, Slideshow, Carousel, Collection, and Instant Experience
Text, Call-only, and Shopping Ads
Avg. Click-through Rate
Avg. Conversion Rate
Ease of Use
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: When to Use Each
Facebook Ads and Google Ads serve different business objectives. It’s generally best to use Facebook Ads to build brand awareness of products or services that people may want but don’t necessarily need (or don’t need right now), such as a new high-tech espresso machine. Google Ads, however, are best for increasing sales of products or services that people are actively searching for, such as an electrician.
When to Use Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads are best for businesses seeking to increase awareness of its brand or the products or services it sells—especially among audiences that may not have heard of them before. With extensive audience targeting options, Facebook allows advertisers to introduce their offerings to the desired target audience via text, image, and compelling video ads.
When to Use Google Ads
Google Ads are best for businesses with a product or service that users want or need and are actively searching for. These ads primarily target users in the buying phase, so ad copy that is concise, unambiguous, makes it easy to call or visit, and highlights the clear advantages of the brand’s product or service will be the most successful.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: How They Work
In a nutshell: Both are auction-based PPC ad platforms working very similarly with one key difference: Facebook Ads are targeted by audiences and Google Ads are targeted by keywords.
While Facebook Ads and Google Ads are both pay-per-click (PPC) advertising platforms that operate with a competitive bidding structure, each works differently. Facebook Ads is considered paid social advertising with ads displayed to users while on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, and the expanded Audience Network. Google Ads, however, are paid search ads that are displayed in Google’s search results.
How Facebook Ads Work
Facebook, a social media and networking platform with 2.8 billion users worldwide, offers businesses the ability to advertise with pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Ads are created using the robust Facebook Ad Manager platform, and are then displayed to a targeted audience defined by user demographics, interests, behavior, and Facebook engagement patterns. As part of the ad creation process, businesses select an ad budget, ad placement, and ad run time.
Facebook’s audience targeting is what really sets it apart from Google Ads. Since Facebook users aren’t on social media actively looking for a product or service, the platform encourages conversions by giving advertisers comprehensive targeting options—including factors like age, gender, income, and interests—that align closely with ad content. This is also what makes Facebook marketing and Facebook advertising effective, despite the audience lacking the same level of buying intent as Google Ads.
Actual ad creation within Facebook is relatively easy. As mentioned, ads are built using the user-friendly Facebook Ads Manager. To build ads, click the “Create” button on your account dashboard, then choose your ad format, select your audience, edit ad settings, and write your ad’s copy and add images (or video).
When carefully crafted and expertly targeted, Facebook ads capture latent user interest that both increases brand awareness and generates sales. It’s important to note, however, that it may take more time to convert Facebook leads to customers as they are not actively seeking your product or service.
How Google Ads Work
Google is a search engine that gives businesses the ability to advertise on its network with pay-per-click ads. Google Ads appear at the top of search results pages in almost the same format as organic search results based on the keywords searched by the user and how those keywords align with ad content. To create a Google Ad, advertisers sign up for a Google Ads account, and then add text-only ad copy and keyword targeting information.
Audience intent is what sets Google Ads apart from Facebook Ads. On Google, users are actively searching for a specific product or service, or the answer to a specific question. If you can provide the exact information they’re looking for, they are more likely to purchase your product or service or engage with your brand. Unlike Facebook Ads, Google Ads are largely triggered by keywords and search terms.
Ads are built in the Google Ad Manager interface, which is generally regarded as not very easy or intuitive to use. Still, advertisers can quickly build a text-based ad by creating Campaigns, Ad Sets, and individual Ads with a headline and description. Get step-by-step details on how to advertise on Google.
Businesses that boast uncomplicated products or services with clear use cases benefit most from Google Ads; it is easy to capture keywords in search and encourage users to click and buy using simple, actionable language. More nuanced campaigns—such as those for brand awareness, multi-step engagement, or complicated products—will likely not fare as well on Google.
If paid search sounds like what you’re looking for, be sure to also consider Microsoft Ads (formerly Bing Ads). While similar to Google Ads, Microsoft Ads are displayed in the Microsoft Search Network (e.g., Bing, AOL, Yahoo, MSN.com, and Edge browser results) and so have a different audience, which makes it a better platform for certain businesses. Learn more about advertising with Microsoft.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Pricing & Performance Data
In a nutshell: Facebook Ads is cheaper, but also has a lower average conversion rate.
When considering affordability, price needs to be viewed in relation to click-through and conversion rates. While Google Ads has a higher average cost-per-click (CPC) and a lower conversion rate, it has a higher click-through rate, so its return can actually be higher than with Facebook Ads.
Google Ads are also more effective at capturing leads who are ready to buy. For this reason, it tends to produce a more immediate return vs leads generated from Facebook Ads, which might take longer to convert.
Average Cost-per-Click (CPC)
Average Cost-per-Mille or Thousand Views (CPM)
Average Cost per Acquisition or Action (CPA)
Minimum Daily Ad Spend
Average Click-through Rate (CTR)
Average Conversion Rate
Get the full breakdown
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Campaign Features
In a nutshell: Facebook Ads has a longer list of campaign features and options from ad platforms (Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and its Audience Network) to ad placement (feed, stories, chat).
The main difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads campaigns is how audiences are targeted. Facebook Ads offers comprehensive audience targeting options, but there is little to no search or buying intent.
While Google Ads has far fewer options when it comes to audience targeting, its users are actively seeking a particular product or service. Audiences aside, each offers its own unique set of features, such as Google’s Local Service Ads and Facebook’s Instagram Ads.
Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Audience Network
Google Search, Display, Shopping, and Local Service Ads
Advanced Audience Targeting
N/A - Basic audience targeting
Ads With Images
✔ - Shopping Ads only
Schedule Ads to Display on Specific Days and Hours
Automatic Budget Optimization
✔ - With a Lifetime budget
Remarketing Text and Display Ads
Facebook Ads Features
Facebook Ads is generally considered a low-cost, pay-per-click platform with an average cost-per-click, or CPC, of $1.72. Its standout features include the user-friendly ad design interface, comprehensive targeting options, and a large number of ad types with several placement options.
A lack of audience intent is a weakness of Facebook Ads. The platform’s users are not actively searching for your brand, product, or service like they are with Google Ads. Instead, users are generally on Facebook to connect with other users or browse entertaining content.
While some advertisers would consider passive intent as a detriment to advertising ROI, they may find Facebook to be a great platform for introducing their brand or its offerings to new audiences, or staying top of mind over time. Once the audience is aware of their brand, advertisers can follow up using effective social media and email marketing campaigns that fully introduce the brand and its products or services.
Facebook Ads overcomes its lack of audience intent by offering advertisers the ability to hone in on very specific audiences using a wealth of targeting parameters. This allows advertisers to closely align ad audiences with their brand’s target audience, thereby increasing the likelihood of engaging their ideal customer and landing a sale.
Facebook’s comprehensive targeting options include demographic information, interests, browsing behavior, location, political affiliations, life events, and dozens of other parameters. These options give advertisers the power to pinpoint the exact people they want to see their ads. Google Ads does offer some basic demographic-based targeting, but primarily leans on keyword searches to display ads to the right audience.
Average Conversion Rate
The conversion rate indicates how often your ad successfully achieves the action you want users to take, whether it’s signing up for a newsletter, filling out a form, or completing a purchase. The average conversion rate on Facebook ads is a high 9.21%, meaning that for every 100 clicks on an ad, just over nine users click on an ad and complete the desired conversion on the connected landing page.
Ad Placement Options
Ad placement is where ads are displayed on the Facebook platform and its affiliated sites. Facebook Ads offers a wide array of ad placement options. For example, ads can be displayed in user feeds, in the right column, in stories, in the marketplace, and in streaming videos, as well as on Messenger, Instagram feeds and stories, and throughout the expanded Facebook Audience Network.
Facebook currently has six different ad types, or ad formats, advertisers can choose from. These include image, video, slideshow, carousel, collection, and instant experience (formerly canvas) ads. Unlike Google Ads, which are text-based ads that match organic search results, Facebook ads are designed to look and feel like organic social media content, giving advertisers the opportunity to get more creative and use visuals to encourage audience engagement.
Google Ads Features
Google Ads has an overall average cost-per-click, or CPC, of $2.69. Google Ads does not have a minimum ad spend, though the average small business sets a daily budget of around $30 to $75 per day. Google Ads gives advertisers the ability to create their own ads that appear in the same format as organic search results based on keyword searches and basic audience targeting options.
Active buying intent is a key benefit of Google search ads. Whenever a user searches a keyword, related ads appear at the top of search results. This allows advertisers to capture the audience’s attention, often when they’re intending to buy a product or service. This increases the likelihood of a sale and, as a result, increases the return on advertising investment.
However, for users to search Google for your relevant keywords, they need to know that your type of product or service exists. In other words, there needs to be people searching Google for a business like yours, or the products or services your business sells. If they don’t, it’s likely better to use the refined audience targeting options of Facebook to build brand awareness and capture new customers.
Google Ads are displayed based on the alignment of keyword searches and keywords used in (or assigned to) ads. Google’s Keyword Planner Tool enables advertisers to research the average CPC of specific keywords and see how much search traffic exists for each one. This is a helpful way to gauge buyer interest and possible ad spend. In addition to keywords, basic audience targeting parameters available include age, gender, location, and device type.
For more advanced advertisers, Google Ads offers audience targeting options such as Remarketing Lists for Search Ads (RLSAs) and custom affinity audiences. Retargeting shows text and display ads to individuals who previously visited your website as they visit other supported sites online. Affinity audiences are custom audiences you create for specific initiatives like remarketing, Facebook video ads, YouTube, and LinkedIn InMail campaigns.
These targeting options are typically used by larger marketing teams and PPC management companies, as they are generally beyond the scope of the average small business. Due to their complexity, they were not a primary consideration in this article.
Average Conversion Rate
The average conversion rate for Google Ads is 4.40%, according to research by WordStream. While the rate varies from advertiser to advertiser, it is lower than that of Facebook Ads, which has an average conversion rate of 9.21%. However, it’s worth noting that Google Ads has a much higher ad click-through rate than Facebook Ads, and users are generally in the buying vs discovery or research stage of the customer journey.
Ad Placement Options
Google Ads currently offers two main ad placement options: Google search results and display within the Google Display Network, which includes well-known company sites like Amazon, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and over 2 million other supported websites. However, most advertisers start by displaying ads only within Google search as it gives them the most control over where their ads are displayed.
Google Ads currently has three main ad types, or ad formats. These include text-only ads, call-only ads, and shopping ads. Text-only ads appear on the top, and sometimes the right hand side, of search results pages in a nearly identical format as organic search results. They are marked with the word “Ad” to differentiate them from organic results.
Call-only ads are similar to text-only ads, with the difference that when the ad is clicked, it automatically calls the advertiser’s phone number. Click-to-call ads are ideal for businesses using calls to action such as “book an appointment now” or those which customers want to reach immediately, such as placing a restaurant order or finding a plumber.
Google shopping ads are the only ads in this group with images, making them more similar to Facebook ads. However, while Facebook ads are better used for product and brand awareness, Google shopping ads encourage direct and immediate purchases.
It’s worth noting that many online stores prefer Facebook ads for creating shipping promotion advertisements. Plus, unlike Google, the Facebook Ad platform allows advertisers to include multiple images or videos in a single ad, and carousel image ads, in particular, have proven highly engaging.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Ease of Use
In a nutshell: Both involve a learning curve. However, Facebook Ads has a slightly more user-friendly interface, making it a bit easier to learn.
Both Facebook Ads and Google Ads can be dizzying at first glance. While Facebook Ads is more beginner-friendly, Google Ads has a more data-focused interface.
Most find it easy to use Facebook’s basic features, but struggle to learn its more advanced functionality. Google, on the other hand, is harder to learn at the beginning, but once a user acclimates, the entire platform is simple to manage, and users can expand into display and remarketing ads down the road for further reach and more sales.
Facebook Ads Ease of Use
Facebook Ads Manager has an intuitive and user-friendly interface that makes it easy to set up ads. However, Facebook has a lot more ad types, ad placements, and advanced audience targeting options than Google Ad Manager, so it can quickly become overwhelming. Facebook is also constantly adding and changing features, making it more difficult to keep up with.
The Facebook Ads Manager interface is organized by lists of ad campaigns. It shows basic information pertaining to campaigns, such as whether or not a campaign is currently active, how much ad spend each campaign has used, its budget, and more. For more detailed information, click on the individual campaign. This will display campaign metrics such as CPC, the campaign click-through and conversion rates, and more.
Google Ads Ease of Use
The Google Ads interface appears more difficult to use at first as it is a text and data-heavy platform. But once users become familiar with Google Ads, it becomes easier to use than Facebook Ads, largely because it doesn’t offer as many ad types, ad placements, or audience targeting options as Facebook Ads.
Google Ad Manager is similar to Facebook Ads Manager in that it is broken out by campaigns. Once you click an individual campaign, you will see additional data for that campaign, including metrics like the click-through rate and ad quality score. Unlike Facebook, Google provides individual keyword performance data.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Customer Service
In a nutshell: Google Ads offers superior customer service.
Google Ads is hands-down better than Facebook Ads when it comes to customer service. It not only offers support via phone, but it also has very helpful customer support. In fact, its support team is proactive, and may occasionally reach out to you with ideas on how you can improve campaign performance.
However, Facebook Ads does offer support via email, which is something Google Ads does not offer. Both offer support via live chat and through comprehensive help centers, giving users a number of options when it comes to getting the support they need, the way they want it.
Facebook Ads vs Google Ads: Customer Reviews
In a nutshell: It’s a tie.
Facebook Ads and Google Ads both have a 4.2 out of 5-star rating from out of over 2,000 reviewers from G2 Crowd. Facebook Ads is considered by many to be an easy platform, whereas Google Ads is often regarded as a must-have for small business marketing.
Rating (G2 Crowd)
What Users Like
What Users Dislike
How We Evaluated Facebook Ads vs Google Ads
It can be difficult to know which advertising is right for your business, but trying every option is time-consuming and costly. To help you determine which is the best for your business, we evaluated and compared both platforms based on cost, audience intent, targeting options, ad types, ad placement options, and ease of use.
The criteria we used to evaluate Facebook Ads and Google Ads include:
- Cost: While costs vary greatly based on a number of factors, we considered the average cost-per-click for each platform, as well as factors that affect cost, including minimum ad spend, ad types, and ad quality.
- Audience intent: In our review of both ad platforms, we looked at why users would be clicking on an ad and how that affects return on investment (ROI) for advertisers.
- Audience targeting: Targeting refers to how you define your ad’s audience based on criteria like demographics, interests, and platform engagement. We considered targeting options for both Facebook and Google Ads to determine the capabilities and benefits of each.
- Ad placement options: Ad placement is where ads are displayed within social networks or search results pages. Having control over this is key, so we considered it heavily in our review.
- Ad types: Facebook and Google both have different ad types, or formats, that allow users to input combinations of text, images, and video. We looked at the different ad offerings of both platforms to determine use cases for each.
- Ease of use: We considered how easy it is to create and manage ads on both Facebook and Google.
- Customer service: Online advertising is not always easy, and advertising platforms are frequently difficult to manage. That’s why we dug into customer support options for both platforms.
- User reviews: User reviews rounded out our comparison; these shed light on the pros and cons of each platform based on advertisers’ actual experiences.
Based on the above criteria, we recommend Google Ads for businesses wanting to increase the sales of their products or services. Alternatively, Facebook Ads is recommended for businesses looking to increase brand awareness and for introducing new products and services to a fresh audience.
For example, an airport transfer service company seeking passengers would receive a return by launching a Google Ad advertising transportation options for travelers. On the other hand, a new high-tech travel bag company might be more successful advertising their product on Facebook to a young professional audience making more than $100,000 a year.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Is Google Ads better than Facebook Ads?
Google Ads is better than Facebook Ads for certain business types and marketing goals. For example, businesses in the service industry or those with need-based products typically find Google Ads to be a better option than Facebook Ads.
Are Google Ads effective?
Google Ads provide businesses with an effective way of reaching customers through search. The effectiveness of ads will vary as it depends greatly on the campaign strategy, ad content, and targeting. Learn how to create and launch effective Google Ads.
Are Google Ads worth it?
Google Ads are generally considered a relatively affordable and effective form of advertising, since advertisers only pay when a user interacts with their ad. This usually makes Google Ads worthwhile, even for those with higher than average CPCs. Additionally, Google offers free ad promo codes. Learn more about how to get your free Google Ads promo code to get started with Google Ads.
Bottom Line: Facebook Ads vs Google Ads
Facebook Ads and Google Ads are both leading pay-per-click advertising platforms where advertisers pay per each click their ad receives. Facebook Ads is a paid social ad platform with extensive audience targeting options while Google Ads is a paid ad search platform relying primarily on Google users’ keyword searches.
As easy as it may be to create a simple ad, both platforms involve a steep learning curve to build effective ads that drive not only clicks, but conversions. Get the most out of your ad spend by leaving it to the experts at Hibu.
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- Google Ads and Facebook Ads should be linked to a custom landing page. Get the step-by-step breakdown of how to create a landing page that converts.
- Learn how to create a Facebook Business Page (you’ll need it to access Facebook Ads Manager).
- Boost your visibility for free by listing your business in the best online directories.