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Google AdWords vs Facebook Ads: How to decide which one is better for your business

Tarun Mittal
14th Mar 2017
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Google and Facebook command an unchallenged duopoly in the online advertising sector. Together, these companies account for 85 percent of every dollar spent on online ads. And they are both the first platforms marketers rush to for advertising. But which one deserves more of your time and money? Should you focus only on one of them or both? Answering these questions is quite tricky. There are several variable factors to consider before deciding whether AdWords or Facebook Ads suits your brand's advertising needs best. To reach a conclusion, these are the questions you need to answer:

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

What is your objective?

There is a driving purpose behind every ad your business puts out. It can be building awareness, driving engagement, acquiring leads, or increasing sales. The platform you select depends on what you aim to achieve through your ads. Facebook Ads, with their pre-existing campaign objective options, are arguably the more versatile advertising platform of the two. They are especially effective in improving brand awareness, driving engagement, and promoting events. But Google AdWords is the more effective option when it comes to increasing sales and acquiring leads. The reason behind this is explained in the next point.

Are your people looking for your product/service?

Ads on Google's platform work only when people search for a particular product or service. They are in the consideration or decision stage of the buyer's journey and they are actively looking for the solution to a problem they have already identified. But that is not the case on Facebook. Facebook users are just browsing through the site to kill time. No one goes on a social media site with the intention of making a purchase. If you want your ads to target those internet users who are looking to make a purchase, then Google AdWords undoubtedly works best. And Facebook Ads is the more suitable option if you want to make people aware that your brand's product/service exists and to inform them why they should consider purchasing it.

There's another variation of this question you need to answer: Is your brand recognised? People who chance upon your ad on Google will also see similar ads from your competitors. If they don't have a strong reason to choose your product over the other options (due to a lack of brand awareness, identity, or trust), you've just wasted your advertising money. So, if your brand is still in its nascent stage and it isn't readily recognised by people, it's better to opt for Facebook Ads instead.

What are you selling?

If your company has launched a first-of-its-kind product, then almost no one will be searching for it on Google. Sure, you can target relevant keywords, but expecting people to make a purchase based on some semblance of relevance is a tall ask. That's where Facebook Ads are more useful that AdWords. Similarly, since ads on Google are primarily text-based (Google's Display Ad network has taken a worse hit than Facebook due to the popularity of Adblock), you are better of advertising products which are visually appealing on Facebook.

What is your budget?

While deciding between the two platforms based on budget, there are two things to consider: cost per click (CPC) and cost per acquisition (CPA). Facebook almost always have a lower CPC as compared to those on AdWords — $0.28 against $2.32 when measured in the US in Q3 2016. While that may instantly tempt you to jump onto the Facebook bandwagon, you need to pause and factor in the CPA. If the CPC for Facebook Ads is 10 times less than that for AdWords, but the ads on the Google platform have a conversion rate that's 15 times higher, then you end up paying more overall by advertising on Facebook. Therefore, you need to carefully monitor both the CPA and CPC while deciding which platform works best for your business. Going by rule of thumb though, Facebook Ads generally provide more value-for-money when compared to Google AdWords.

Who do you want to advertise to?

The biggest strength of Facebook Ads is the incredibly detailed targeting option it offers courtesy of the social media sites massive user base. While there are more people using Google, Facebook has more detailed information about its users which allow marketers to narrow down a specific demographic. You can select the users to whom you want to advertise based on myriad factors like age, gender, marital status, geographical location, interests, educational qualifications, and a lot, lot, more. Google, on the other hand, will show your advertisements to anyone who searches for the relevant keywords which makes it impossible to limit the audience viewing your ads.

From the above points, it is clear that there isn't one clear winner in this battle between the digital giants. Choosing between Facebook Ads and Google AdWords for advertising changes from business to business. And, if you have the money for it, advertising on both platforms simultaneously is never a bad option.

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