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What’s the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads?

As business owners, we’re spoilt for choice on where to advertise our businesses. But, despite competition from other social media platforms, Facebook Ads and Google Ads remain two of the most popular platforms.  You might think that the only difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads is that they’re on different platforms, but that’s not the only one. Today, I’m answering the question: What’s the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads? 

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What is the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads?

Two of the biggest players in the online advertising space are Facebook Ads and Google Ads.

(To clarify, when I say Facebook Ads, this includes Instagram Ads as well). 

Google has a few different campaign types, but the one I’m talking about here is Google Search Network – which used to be called Google Adwords. These are the ads that show up at the top of the search results page when you do a Google search.

How do Google Search Network Ads work?

This is my simplified explanation of Google Search Network Ads…

When you’re setting up Google Search Network Ads, you specify the keywords you want your ads to show up for. Then, when someone searches for these keywords, you bid against everyone else who wants their ads shown for those keywords. The winning bidder gets their ad shown.

(And, no, you’re not sitting there actively bidding. The platform does it for you).

This is the really simple explanation – there are a few other factors that go into it, but for the sake of this post, I’m going to keep it really simple. The key thing to remember with Google Search Network Ads is that people are actively searching for that keyword. Which makes them very different to Facebook Ads…

How do Facebook Ads work?

Facebook has a certain number of spots available to show ads to each user in their newsfeed and other placements.

Yes, they could, in theory, show an unlimited amount of ads to people, but then nobody would use Facebook. So, they have to keep a balance between ads and other content. Facebook decides what ads to show people based on their interests and their activity, and businesses who are targeting the same people bid against each other to be shown in the various placements.

Again, this is an overly simplified explanation as there are other factors (like relevance metrics) that have an impact.

The thing is, if you’re a shoe shop trying to get your products shown in your ideal customer’s feed, you’re not just bidding against other shoe shops – you’re bidding against all other businesses who are trying to get their ads shown in that person’s feed.

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The biggest difference between Google Ads and Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads are designed to disrupt whatever the viewer is doing and get them to stop and pay attention.

Whereas, when a Google Search Network Ad shows up, it’s because the viewer is already searching for whatever it is that that ad is for. They have intent. 

So, now your next question is probably going to be…

Are Google Ads or Facebook Ads better for my business?

And I wish I could give you a one-size-fits-all answer, but I can’t.

While Google Search Network Ads tend to be more expensive per click than Facebook Ads, the people clicking on your ads are more likely to have purchase intent – because they’re already searching for what you’re offering. So, they’re likely to convert at a higher rate than visitors from Facebook Ads.

The best answer I can give you is this: Test both Google Ads and Facebook Ads, and see which gets you better results.

There’s also no reason why you can’t use both in conjunction. For example, you might get a lot of visitors to your product page from Google Ads, but maybe they don’t purchase. In this case, you would be leaving money on the table by not using Facebook Ads to retarget people who viewed your product pages.  

I hope this has clarified the difference between Google Search Ads and Facebook Ads for you.

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