Updated July 2020
I regularly get asked whether Facebook ads or Google ads are better. Fortunately, the answer is very clear: it depends!
The reason for why it depends is that there are many, many different circumstances, as well as many kinds of ads across the two platforms.
With that said, let’s look at few generalities, with the help from our friends at makewebvideo.com:
- If you have an offering that fits a category that people know about and are looking for, Google Search is almost always the best advertising solution. In this case, your ad can be there for people exactly when and where they are looking for your offering.
- Regarding time frames, Google Searchers usually purchase between “now and a couple months from now.” With Facebook, unless you have a super-specialized offering or significant discount, ad clickers usually purchase “next year” or even further down the road as a result of their awareness of your offering (if you’ve done a good job selecting appropriate audiences and actually building enough frequency).
- If you have an innovative product that is not well known, Google Search is likely not the best advertising solution. Your best option would most likely be Facebook ads that target people whose interests are very aligned with your product. For instance, if you are launching a revolutionary cat exerciser, it’s not very likely that people are actively searching for something like that in Google Search (yet!). Instead, you can target people who “like” cats on Facebook! Right now you can even target cat owners specifically in Facebook, although this type of ownership data is based on 3rd party info that is soon to disappear from the Facebook ad platform (thanks a bunch, Cambridge Analytica).
- If you have an impulse product (themed t-shirt, collectible, etc) Facebook ads are often best. For instance, if you have funny cycling t-shirt you can target people who are avid cyclists. This type of offering typically works best if you have some sort of limited type offer associated with it (although you need to be careful not to cheapen your brand). The Google Display Network, which features banner ads on a choice of millions of different websites, can also work well for this, although we’d usually try Facebook ads first.
- If you have an offering that requires research and consideration, retargeting ads (Facebook) or remarketing ads (Google) can both work well. With these ads, recent visitors to your website see your ads on Facebook, or through the Google Display Network, respectively. Confusingly, retargeting and remarketing mean the exact same thing in this context, but for some reason Facebook calls their ads “retargeting”, whereas Google calls their ads “remarketing”.
- Does your offering relate to a complex hobby or a DIY topic? If so, putting banner ads on YouTube videos related to those topics can be the best way to reach your audience. This is fairly straightforward to do with Google Display Network ads.
- Got an app you are marketing? Both Facebook and Google have “app-specific” ads. Both are good, although Google’s offering takes the win for the ability to better “scale” your campaigns if they work well.
The above examples are just the tip of the iceberg!
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