Google vs Facebook: Where Should I Run Ads?

Online advertising is a fantastic way to reach a targeted Inbound audience quickly, but where should you advertise online? The answer for most B2B businesses has usually been Google or Facebook. But with so many new privacy laws, updated interfaces, and a disconnected audience, how can you decide where to advertise?

Let's dig into it.


What Are the Differences Between Google Ads and Facebook Ads?

The main difference between Google AdWords and Facebook Ads is how ads are served up - based on user intent or user interest.

How Google Ads work

Google AdWords is a paid search platform, which means it relies on user intent to show ads. When a user types something into Google, ads appear above and below the search results that are related to that keyword. An advertiser selects a group of keywords they want to run ads for. 

google search results for cute sundresses

What's important to remember about Google search is that it's much broader, and only works if the person searching for a term or related term is in the target market. Google knows that you may see non-qualified traffic searching up terms, so that's accounted for in budget and average conversion rates. For example, someone searching for "what is manufacturing 4.0" may not actually be a manufacturer trying to implement a new system - it could just be someone who heard the term and wants to know what it means.

However, the trade-off is that this means Google ads run into significantly less privacy concerns than other types of advertising. It relies much more heavily on search terms than it does on user data.

→Read Now: Why Search Intent Optimization is as Important as SEO

How Facebook Ads work

Facebook is a social media platform that uses user interests to show ads. Instead of typing in a specific keyword, Facebook analyzes a user's activity on Facebook to serve ads based on interest. Ads are also based on pubic demographical information, like location and age range. Ads then appear in a user's feed alongside other posts. 


Ad on Facebook

In the past, Facebook used to rely much more on 3rd party app data, but a string of bad press and privacy laws has reduced information to Facebook use only. An advertiser selects the type of interest they want to target and then ads are served up the people that Facebook identifies as ideal targets.

Another way to think of it is that Google ad viewers are active, Facebook ad viewers are passive. Google ads are only served to those who are searching, Facebook ads are only served to those who are browsing.


Which is Better: Google AdWords or Facebook Ads?

The simple truth is that neither one is "better" than the other, it just depends on your customer, your industry and desired end result. 

How to choose where to advertise online

The first step in deciding where to advertise is by looking at your audience personas. Where does your persona spend their time online? Are they active on social media? Do they already know what they're looking for?

Generally speaking, Google Ads work best when your audience is in the consideration and decision stages of their buyer's journey - they know what their problem/need is, and they're actively searching online for solutions. In the example above, the person searching on Google knows they want to see cute sundresses. They're more likely to click on the ads if they answer the question they have while searching Google.

Meanwhile, Facebook Ads largely target those earlier in the buyer's journey in their awareness or consideration stages - they may or may not know what their problem/need is. In the example above, the person browsing Facebook is not actively searching for clothing. However, they may still have an interest. And despite all of the changes with Facebook, it remains one of the most popular social media platforms and has a large active userbase.

Still not sure where to run ads? 


meme of little girl asking why don't we have both

Yep - sometimes the best way to figure out which platform is right for you is by diving in headfirst. If you've looked into your persona and goals and are still unsure of where you should advertise, try splitting your budget and running ads on both. Give your ads a few weeks to gain some traction and see what you find - that can help you make an informed decision on where to put your money. 

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BizzyWeb is a Minneapolis-based digital marketing and web design agency that helps companies get the high-quality leads they need to grow and thrive. Our tactics include inbound marketing, SEO, advertising, web design, content creation and sales automation. We are an accredited HubSpot Platinum Partner and we offer full-service HubSpot onboarding, enablement and strategy for new and current users.

Dave Meyer
Author: Dave Meyer
Dave Meyer is President of BizzyWeb. Dave has more than 20 years of experience in marketing and communications and has presented digital marketing topics to thousands of people across the US and Canada.