Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

There’s a question that frequently comes up in client discussions, which is “how do I compare Google ads vs Facebook ads in 2017?

In my mind, it’s relatively simple – it can be summarised as “demand generation” in Facebook and “demand fulfilment” in Google.

Let’s explore that.

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads 2017

GoogleGoogle Logo 2017

Imagine the context.  I’m on my phone, or at my desk, and I want to know something.  I open a browser, ask Siri, or hit a search shortcut, and enter what I’m thinking about.
The key here is that I already know what I’m looking for.  Google ads are a way of purchasing your place on the search results for the terms that are entered.

FacebookFacebook logo 2017

It’s a different setup on the social media giant.  I’m again on my phone or at my desk, in the app or web page, and I’m scrolling past the funny pictures of dogs and babies, flames about Donald Trump, and miscellaneous rugby chat.  At various points, the people and pages that I like have their posts visible to me.  And sometimes I get that interrupted by a “sponsored post”, which tries to grab my attention with an irresistible reason why I should click a link and go out of my mindless scrolling.


So – Google, I know I want to find out about something so I’m already looking.  With Facebook, I don’t know yet – so the offer has to really grab my attention. Simple?

While we’re here, what other differences are there?

When we compare Google Ads vs Facebook Ads 2017, there are many other factors we should look into.


Google doesn’t just offer its paid search result service – it also offers its display network – putting fixed size ads into locations on websites in exchange for a share of the cost.  In my opinion, with the advent of ad blocker extensions in Chrome, search is by far the most effective option.

Facebook also has options – newsfeed, right hand channel, audience network, and now Instagram.  Of course every campaign is different, but for me I’d stick the initial offer in the news feed, and split test mobile vs desktop users.  The right hand side is useful for retargeting, and Instagram is for a certain demographic!

Targetingon target

Google offers a variety of options based on what it knows about you – google profile, location, cookies, and so on.   It’s mostly made up of your search history, though!  Based on that, it decides whether you are likely to click on a given ad, and auctions your potential click to advertisers that are interested.  So as an advertiser, the most direct search terms can be very competitive.

Facebook, of course, knows you much better.  You can target people based on location, demographics, and interests.  So we can choose to only serve ads about a new range of rugby pads to people under 40 in the UK who like some relevant rugby content.

Optimisation and Analytics

Actually here, both channels have tons of data available.  By embedding some short snippets on your page header, you can indicate a click, and a conversion (and other actions) and get the tools to tell you which entry methods are most effective.  Both platforms let you structure your campaigns and compare the effectiveness.

Conclusion – Google Ads vs Facebook Ads 2017 – which should I use?

You can see I have a fondness for Facebook ads – for the right offers, it can generate demand in your target paying audience.  It is so good at kicking off a sales funnel, that it should be part of every digital marketing strategy.  Clearly Google has a place for fulfilling demand, but I’d use good SEO to get on the first page, rather than advertising.  But that’s just my opinion – what do you think?


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