Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads: Small Business Comparison

Facebook Ads v Google ads

Two giants dominate world of online advertising: Facebook Ads and Google Ads (formerly known as Google AdWords). Both platforms offer unique advantages and cater to different advertising objectives. Today we will compare Facebook Ads and Google Ads from the perspective of small businesses, exploring their strengths, weaknesses, and how to determine which platform best suits your specific needs.

Understanding Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads, part of the Facebook for Business suite, allows businesses to promote their products or services on the world’s largest social media platform. With over 2.8 billion monthly active users, Facebook offers an extensive and diverse audience.

Understanding Google Ads

Google Ads, on the other hand, leverages Google’s powerful search engine to display ads to users actively searching for products or services. It operates on a pay-per-click (PPC) model, meaning advertisers pay when users click on their ads.

Budget Considerations

For small businesses, budget allocation is a crucial factor when deciding between Facebook Ads and Google Ads. Let’s explore how these platforms compare in terms of budget:

Facebook Ads:

  • Cost-Effective Start: Facebook Ads often have a lower entry cost, making it accessible for small businesses with limited budgets.
  • Flexible Budgeting: You can set a daily or lifetime budget, and Facebook provides recommendations based on your objectives.
  • Cost-Per-Click (CPC): While CPCs can vary widely, they tend to be lower than Google Ads, especially for less competitive niches.
  • Cost-Per-Impression (CPM): Facebook also offers CPM campaigns, ideal for brand awareness and impressions.

Google Ads:

  • Auction-Based System: Google Ads operates on a bidding system, and popular keywords can be expensive, making it less budget-friendly for some small businesses.
  • Ad Rank Matters: Google considers your ad rank (quality score and bid amount) to determine your ad’s position. To compete effectively, you may need higher bids.
  • Budget Control: Google Ads allows for budget control, but you may need to closely monitor campaigns to prevent overspending.

Targeting and Audience

Both platforms offer robust targeting options, but they cater to different approaches:

Facebook Ads:

  • Demographic Targeting: Facebook excels in demographic targeting, allowing you to reach users based on age, gender, location, education, and more.
  • Interest-Based Targeting: You can target users based on their interests, hobbies, pages they like, and their online behavior.
  • Custom Audiences: Import your customer lists or website visitors to create custom audiences for retargeting.

Google Ads:

  • Keyword Targeting: Google Ads is ideal for users actively searching for products or services using specific keywords.
  • Location Targeting: You can target users based on their location, making it useful for local businesses.
  • Remarketing: Google Ads offers remarketing options to re-engage users who have previously visited your website.

Ad Format and Creatives

Both platforms offer various ad formats to cater to different marketing objectives:

Facebook Ads:

  • Image and Video Ads: Ideal for brand awareness, engagement, and product showcases.
  • Carousel Ads: Showcase multiple products or features in a single ad.
  • Slideshow Ads: Create video-like ads with images and text.
  • Lead Ads: Collect user information directly within the ad.

Google Ads:

  • Text Ads: Appear above organic search results, making them highly visible for users searching for specific keywords.
  • Display Ads: Visual ads displayed on websites within Google’s Display Network.
  • Shopping Ads: Showcase product listings with images and prices.
  • Video Ads: Display video ads on YouTube and other partner sites.

Conversion Tracking and Measurement

Effective measurement and tracking of ad performance are crucial for small businesses. Here’s how each platform handles this:

Facebook Ads:

  • Facebook Pixel: The Facebook Pixel allows you to track user interactions on your website, measure conversions, and optimise ad delivery.
  • Conversion Tracking: Track specific actions such as website purchases, sign-ups, or page views.
  • Custom Conversions: Define custom conversion events based on your objectives.

Google Ads:

  • Google Analytics: Integrate Google Analytics with your Google Ads account to track website traffic and user behavior.
  • Conversion Tracking: Set up conversion tracking to measure actions like form submissions, calls, or e-commerce transactions.
  • Conversion Actions: Customise conversion actions based on your goals and objectives.

Search Intent vs. Social Engagement

Understanding the user intent on each platform is vital for small businesses:

Facebook Ads:

  • Engagement-Focused: Facebook users primarily visit the platform to connect with friends and family, discover content, and engage with brands.
  • Top-of-Funnel: Ideal for brand awareness, community building, and reaching users who may not be actively searching for products or services.

Google Ads:

  • Intent-Driven: Google users have high commercial intent, actively searching for solutions to their problems or needs.
  • Bottom-of-Funnel: Suitable for capturing users who are ready to make a purchase or take specific actions.

Competition and Ad Placement

Competition levels can vary significantly between the two platforms:

Facebook Ads:

  • Less Competitive: Depending on your niche, Facebook Ads can be less competitive, especially for businesses in niches with limited local competition.
  • Ad Placement: Facebook offers various ad placements, including the news feed, Instagram, Audience Network, and more.

Google Ads:

  • Highly Competitive: Competitive industries and popular keywords can drive up bidding costs, making it challenging for small businesses with limited budgets.
  • Ad Placement: Google Ads appear above organic search results and on partner sites within the Google Search Network and Display Network.

Local Business Considerations

For small businesses serving a local audience, the choice between the two platforms may hinge on location-specific factors:

Facebook Ads:

  • Local Awareness Ads: Facebook’s local awareness ads are designed to target users within a specific geographic radius around your business.

Google Ads:

  • Location Targeting: Google Ads allows precise location targeting, ideal for businesses aiming to attract nearby customers.
  • Google My Business Integration: Linking your Google Ads account with Google My Business can improve local visibility.

Finding the Right Balance

In the Facebook Ads vs. Google Ads debate, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for small businesses. The choice ultimately depends on your unique objectives, target audience, budget, and the nature of your products or services.

Some businesses may find success in a blended approach, using both platforms to capitalize on their strengths. Others may prioritize one platform over the other based on their specific needs and available resources.

The key to success lies in careful planning, ongoing monitoring, and a willingness to adapt your strategy based on data-driven insights. By finding the right balance and understanding the strengths of each platform, small businesses can navigate the complex world of online advertising and achieve their desired outcomes.

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Craig Wilson is the founder of Sticky. He has been in the business of growing businesses for over 25 years. If you’d like to speak with Craig to discuss how Sticky might be able to help your business get better results, just book a call here.

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