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Google ads vs Facebook ads – what’s the difference?

When it comes to digital marketing and specifically paid media, it’s no secret that Google Ads and Facebook Ads are two of the biggest platforms available on the market – for both advertisers and consumers alike. If you’re new to ecommerce or are just starting out with digital marketing, how can you tell which platform is the best to utilise for your business’ specific objectives? This article will explain the differences between both Google and Facebook ads, including highlighting why you should use each one. We hope this article will help you learn more and feel more confident in getting your next ecommerce business out there and open for business! You might want to use Google Shopping in your next campaign, since listing on the platform is now free for merchants. You can find out more about Google Shopping here

Let’s start with the basics. What are Google ads? Google ads run off a pay-per-click or PPC advertising, meaning that advertisers pay every time someone clicks on their ads. PPC ads are typically displayed on search engine results pages or SERPs. They can also be displayed within the network of the search engine. In the case of Google, this might include Youtube, other Search Partners or on Google’s Display Network.

At the core of this model is the search network – this is where customers are looking for products or services, and where merchants can list these products and services. To manage this efficiently, the search network relies heavily on accurate keywords or core words that pertain to the specific item being searched. This is important if you want prospective customers to find your business on a search engine results page. The overall goal of using CPC advertising in this way is to drive more traffic to your store – whether it’s an ecommerce store, or part of a larger multichannel campaign.

So then, what are Facebook ads? Facebook ads are similar, but they appear on Facebook instead, and can also be displayed on Instagram, as this is one of Facebook’s network partners. The main places for ads to be displayed are on newsfeeds, in Facebook’s marketplace, in Video feeds, in individual inboxes or in the right-hand column on Facebook.  The reason you might consider using Facebook is because it is one of the most popular and active social media platforms available at the moment – and has become a hustling hub for business activity.

What are the differences between Facebook and Google ads?

Firstly, the style of ad is quite different on either platform. Facebook ads are more passive, as they usually appear on a newsfood of a potential customer – who might not have searched specifically for your business. This is totally opposite for Google ads, which demand active user intent within the search that the customer performs. If nobody is searching for your keywords,you may not receive any leads. Facebook advertising doesn’t work like this.

You could also categorise the differences in ads based on their category. Google represents paid search, as you’re paying for customers to search for and click on your keyword and links. PPC advertising also involves bidding and optimising your bids – essentially meaning that businesses are paying for the potential to find new customers based on the keywords and search queries that they enter on Google. This is a complex idea, which you can read more about here.

Facebook, on the other hand, represents paid Social Media, and allows you to target a specific demographic who may not have searched for any of your keywords yet. The reason for doing so is because Facebook has an extremely high volume of monthly active users, representing a potentially lucrative environment for advertising your business in a different way to Google ads.

Which one is better? 

The fact is that Google Ads and Facebook Ads are two very different platforms for advertising. This means that they both have different intents and benefits for a potential advertiser. 

We want to be clear that both platforms are extremely lucrative platforms to use if you’re looking to advertise your business. They can be relatively cheap (depending on your budget and industry) and each of them have literally billions of active users every month – which comes with some specialised demographic targeting options for your ads. 

Google Ads is a bit easier to use than Facebook Ads, since you don’t need to spend time improving an existing page like you might need to do on Facebook. It’s simply a dashboard that you can study and you can quickly understand what you’re looking at. In terms of ease of access on Facebook, it’s not as clear cut. Facebook Ads require you to use Ad Manager. This is the dashboard for all of your Facebook advertising, and it can be quite intimidating to look at. 

Before you make any rash judgements -your answer should depend on your business objectives and obviously, the extent of your marketing budget. It’s not a clear cut decision to say that one is distinctively better than the other. 

No matter which platform you delve into first, you should ask yourself some basic questions: What am I looking to get out of this platform? What is the end goal for my business? The answers that you think of will influence the right platform for you.

  • For sales, leads,and consultations, both platforms will perform relatively well – so there is no clear ‘better’ platform.
  • If you’re wanting brand awareness, engagement or more of a social media following, Facebook/Instagram will undoubtedly be much better for this. 
  • If you want to sell your products in a more direct way, Google Ads get our vote- although, Facebook can also be used to do this in a more limited capacity.
  • Consider the Stage in the Customer Journey that you’re trying to work on. If you want to capture users while they are in the act of purchasing a product or service, Google would be a better choice due to the fact that the user intent can work in your favour. 
  • If you want to add more consideration or a narrative to your offering, Facebook is a better place to target specific customers through content marketing or promotions.
  • Consider if your product is sensitive to a specific demographic; this can impact your decision on which platform to use. If your product or service is strongly tied to specific events or audiences, Facebook is a better option since it has strong targeting capabilities including targets based on life-changing events or crucial moments from the past. This could include engagements, marriages, specific birthdays or births. This is much harder to do with Google Ads.
  • If your product or service appeals to a massive audience, you might prefer to use Google Ads as it won’t single out a selective audience. 
  • If you’re more inclined to create content-based or visual ads, Facebook is a better platform for displaying more complex imagery – think photoshoots or styled images. Google Shopping includes visual ads, but these are typically limited to being images of your product at a very basic level.
  • Consider how well- known your brand is, as this could impact how you would rank on Google Ads. A mature brand is likely to achieve better results on Google, whereas newer brands can best gain a following using social media like Facebook/Instagram.

What’s the final verdict?

We think you should consider a blended or mixed approach. This is also known as multichannel or omnichannel marketing (depending on your setup) and involves including multiple different elements in your broader marketing strategy. All in all, there’s no reason why you can’t use both platforms for different purposes – at the same time. 

In today’s marketing climate, most of your customers are making decisions online, and will look at your content to make a decision. Availability and accessibility across multiple devices is also necessary in order to stay competitive. It doesn’t make much sense to limit yourself to one channel – since channels have a tendency to synchronise with each other and act in a complementary way. 

The beauty of digital marketing is that you can start investing more resources into one particular platform, and adjust your ad spend and strategy as you see your real-time results. You’re always in a situation where you can monitor your ads and see what’s working, and what should be changed. This is something that can’t easily be done when looking at traditional advertising media. 

Ultimately, we hope this article helped you understand the difference between two major players in a digital marketing world. We stand by the practice of asking specific business-related questions to yourself before deciding to commit to a single platform – you may find that you need a blend or combination of channels for your specific business needs.  After all, each platform has specific strengths that can help you with a different section of your business objectives. This could help you craft a detailed advertising approach, playing on the strengths of both Facebook and Google alike.

Need help with your ecommerce store, or your marketing strategy? Chat to ShoppingFeeder, an integrated solution that focuses on making it easier for you to sell your products on different channels. We want to make sure your brand gets lots of traffic and sales. 

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