Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: Which will get you a better ROI?

As digital marketing experts, we’ve been asked this question by dozens of clients. “So Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, which is better for my business?”

And almost every time we have a similar response – it depends!

Both are great, and yes one can be better than the other depending on your business, your audience, and your goals. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The Big Debate on Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

We understand that small businesses often have a limited marketing budget and deciding where to use their ad spend dollars can be extremely challenging. Let alone completely understanding the difference between Google Ads vs Facebook Ads. Which is why we are taking it upon ourselves to solve and put out some clarity to this debate once and for all. And in the process, help fellow business owners decide which one gets the best return on their marketing investment.

google ads vs facebook ads

Before jumping straight to the part where we tell you which one gets you a better ROI in the epic battle of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, let’s start by looking at some of the main differences between the two.

What are Google Ads?

The advances in technology over the years has given us as marketers and even consumers more choices than we could have possibly imagined in our lifetime. As a result, it has changed how we find, deliver, and receive information. It has even changed how to shop for and purchase products today.

One such internet company who has not only embraced change but helped cultivate it is Google. Founded in 1998, Google is a search engine that is used by nearly 70% of online users to search for anything and everything under the sun. Literally. Thousands of best results relating to products, tips, videos, local businesses and much more in a fraction of a second. Google today processes more than 40,000 search queries every second, more than 3 billion per day and a little over a trillion every year. And it has shown this consistent growth since the early 2000. Imagine how this has and will continue to change the advertising landscape.

Formerly known as Google AdWords, Google Ads has become one of the world’s largest and most popular pay per click advertising platforms. Meaning advertisers on this platform only pay when a user clicks on their ad. Other search engines use similar techniques for their advertising platforms as well. But Google is so commonly used by consumers and advertisers alike the term paid search is most famously associated with Google Ads.

google search

The image above shows a quick Google search of house cleaners near me. Notice how all of the listings are marked with a green “Ad” label to the left of the listing or “Sponsored” in the top right corner of the screen. Google not only showed me ads most relevant to my search query, they also showed me relevant results based on my location.

Now that you understand a little more of what Google Ads are, take a minute to watch this clip from one of our staff experts as he explains a preview of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads.

What are Facebook Ads?

If Google Ads are popularly referred to as paid search, then Facebook Ads most definitely have been given the title of paid social. Changing consumer behaviors and patterns have undeniably given rise to social media giants that let consumers connect with their friends, voice concerns about their experiences, and engage with topics and businesses they like.

In a previous article, we explained why business owners need to include Facebook advertising in their marketing plans. We highlight how Facebook has become the social powerhouse today with 2.27 billion monthly active users (and counting).

Setting an example for why Facebook ads are so popular among advertisers and business owners. Boasting such impressive user data, it is of no surprise that last year alone, Facebook Ads accounted for 25% of all online ad spend.

Probably the biggest advantage of Facebook over Google is the fact that it knows our social behavior. We may not be fully aware of it but we subconsciously reveal information on Facebook about ourselves more than what we intend to.

Yes, Facebook collects a lot of data. Maybe more than you even realize. The pages you like, topics you engage in, your friends, your birth date, your current location, your vacation in 2018 and so on. Imagine what value can such a data bank created for advertisers looking to target specific users. And these emotions, our behavior and what we like has a huge impact on our purchasing decision.

Introducing…(drumroll please)…Facebook Ads!

The below graphic shows Facebook Ads targeting options available to advertisers.

facebook custom audience

For this reason alone, Facebook Ads remain popular among many small business owners as they offer the ability to pinpoint your target customer and only advertise to people who are actually likely to purchase your product or service. 

Another example of this is with Facebook Google Search. You may have seen some ads on Facebook for products or services that you had previously researched, and found yourself asking, “how does Facebook know what I searched on Google?” Facebook itself doesn’t know this information, however, if a business is partnered with or connected to Facebook, then that data can be used to used to show their ads on your Facebook feed. 

This amount of specificity is something that not many advertising platforms can provide, at least not in as great of detail.

facebook google search ad example

Schedule a consult with our digital experts today to see how (not if) Facebook ads will help solve your business objectives.

Google Ads vs Facebook Ads – How They Work

What’s the difference between Facebook Ads and Google Ads? The main difference is how products/services are shown to consumers. Facebook shows ads to users based on their interests, while Google shows relevant ads to those who are specifically searching for a product. In simple terms, Facebook tends to focus on brand outreach, while Google focuses on lead conversion.

Let’s explore both in a little more detail.

Google Ads with its paid search based offerings, lets business owners target users based on the search query they enter on Google, also known as keywords. Primarily text based, these ads are aimed at showing relevant promoted results to users that can help them in their search further.

From a user’s point of view, when they perform a Google search for a particular keyword, they are shown pages of results in usually less than one second. But at the start of each search result page, the initial few listings (the ones with the tag “Ad” on them as seen below) are the promoted listings that advertisers have paid to showcase when that particular keyword is searched.

google search listing

From an advertiser’s point of view, the Google Ad platform lets them create campaigns that will only appear when users search a keyword that they want to advertise for. For an even more targeted approach, local businesses can target people searching for their keywords in specific geographic region. That way they don’t waste paid clicks on a customer in Wyoming who will probably never visit their mechanic shop in Florida.

Once these campaigns are set up, your ads enter a bidding round with advertisers who have selected similar keywords. And finally, Google will show the ad that has the highest bid and with the most relevant content. Of course, there is an army of tools Google provides to set up these campaigns but these are the basics you need to know.

Facebook Ads on the other hand, lets you target your ad to people based on the behaviors and patterns you choose as a targeting profile on its platform. Unlike Google Ads, it is not based on a user’s search query. Not only does it provide a wide range of targeting options based on demographics, it also lets an advertiser target users based on their behaviors, likes, and dislikes.

For these reasons, you need to make sure you truly know your customer. If you need help figuring this out, one of our social media advertising experts can put together a customer avatar profile for you.

The below image shows an example of the different ad formats available in Facebook Ads. Choose different display formats (image, video, carousel) and placements.

facebook ad formats

Source: Wordstream

What Exactly is the ROI for Google Ads vs Facebook Ads? How Do We Determine It?

There was a time when traditional channels like print ads were the go-to-market strategy for business owners. Relying on mass communications in local newspapers and then hoping that someone sees their ad and visits them to make a purchase. Not knowing for sure how effective their recent ad campaign was.

We have come a long way from those times and today business owners and advertisers have advanced digital tools at their disposal. The newer advertising technologies lets them promote their businesses in different ad formats all while targeting specific customers.

It gets better…

Computer science and data analytics has made it possible to track these campaigns and count conversions down to the very hour that they occur. It is wonderful how advertising platforms tag each and every visit to your website that happen through the ads. Further, the tag follows them even while they make a purchase or bounce off. This level of detail means there is more data than ever before to help you optimize your campaign’s performance.

We at LYFE Marketing, have technical experts that love taking on this challenge. We track conversions on a daily basis and explain to business owners how their campaigns are performing.

Moreover, we also help our clients put codes and scripts on their websites that capture website visitors. We then create remarketing campaigns on both Google Ads and Facebook Ads targeting people who have visited our website landing pages before. The ability to retarget those past visitors is when the real ROI gets rolling. Because now, you are not only sending out touches to users once and hoping that they purchase from you. Instead, you are retargeting everyone who visited your website but did not convert.

Testing Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

So, which one finally generates a better ROI? And make a hard choice simple.

For a business owner, the debate on Facebook Ads vs Google Ads boils down to one thing and one thing only – which of the two choices will provide the most profit? And we completely understand that.

For this reason, we decided to conduct a test of our own and then let our opinions be known. The test subject we set out to study was a local gym business. The client came to us with the primary business objective of increasing memberships to the gym. And a secondary objective of increasing awareness of his new business.

We set up two campaigns and ran them for 30 days to gauge the market for the product before we presented our recommendations. The below two tables is what our campaigns achieved at the end of this test period.

google conversions data

Google Ads

Facebook conversions data

Facebook Ads

We first looked at the Facebook campaign. It did great! Exceeded our client’s expectations, even. By getting over 103 membership purchases and more than 150K impressions we thought we had a clear winner in this test. Further, it helped achieve this at a cost per conversion of $11. Not bad, right? The client was blown away with the results and was happy to continue the Facebook advertising campaign knowing these results could only improve over time.

Next up, we looked at the Google Ads we had created. Not only did it spend less than what we had set up the campaign to spend, it also helped us get more than 200 memberships at the rate of only $4 per conversion. We found some pretty interesting data points to optimize our campaigns further. By the end of the test, our Google Ads had been seen by users specifically searching for gym memberships. We knew they would become lifelong customers. These kinds of results during the discovery phase are a great indication of what type of ads work best for our client.

The campaign set up and infrastructure can be overwhelming. But trust us, we have been doing this for a while now (8 years to be precise). And we know how to get you the results you want. Get a free consultation with our digital marketing experts today to see how you can get the best return on your investment.

If you’re still trying to decide between Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, our experienced staff knows just how to make that decision. We don’t promise overnight success, but we will scale business opportunities for you and get you the better ROI you crave.

Our Recommendation in the Google Ads vs Facebook Ads Debate

If the judgement is going to be based on return on the actual investment dollars spent, Google Ads has often proved to be the undisputed king. The fact that we managed to achieve more purchases all by utilizing a lesser ad spend, goes on to show the effectiveness of Google Ads in terms of ROI.

The answer might surprise some but from what we saw through this test, just reconfirmed what we have believed for a while. If you are a new business and need to make a hard choice based on getting more sales right now, a lead campaign on Google will provide you with the better return on investment, based on a sales outcome.

Even though Google Ads generally require a larger advertising budget, they also require experience. Google wants to deliver the best to its user, so you have to deliver the same. The quality of your ad and website content rather than the ad spend is a significant Google ranking factor when it comes to ad bidding wars and your ads being shown over the competition. To make sure you’re the triple threat you want to be, we highly suggest working with an agency who has advertising experts in your industry.

So with all of this being said, if you’re a new business with a decent budget and a simple goal, Google Ads might be the best option for you when looking for a simple answer in the battle of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads.

The Flip Side to Our Recommendation in Google Ads vs Facebook Ads

Facebook Advertising beyond a doubt should be at the center of a business owner’s marketing plan. Especially when it comes to his/her paid social strategy. Not only does it give you a deeper insight into your audiences’ social behaviors, but also allows you to grow a social community around your business.

One that we all know is the most important factor for business growth – word of mouth. No other advertising platform has greater power when it comes to creating communities and fan experiences around businesses like Facebook does.

The return on investment from Facebook Ads is much deeper than something can be measured by dollar amount alone. We all know the huge potential of the channel and how big of a crowd puller it can be. That makes its advertising platform a force to be reckoned with.

As we said, every business is different.

With different products and unique customer profiles.

This means what might work for one business owner, might not for another. This is certainly true when you are judging your return on investment in advertising.

Talk to our team today to see how different ad platforms fit into your business and learn how we can get you a better return on your investment.

Our Final Verdict

Sure, we had a clear winner in this particular debate. But the bigger debate of paid search vs paid social is clearly one that requires a lot of testing with many different variables. We also understand that the answer is not always as simple as the one we discussed today. The choice depends on various factors like your business objectives, your business type or your customer audience. All have an equal role to play in the success of a campaign and the ROI achieved.

The choice may not always be clear. But we frequently recommend business owners to look beyond ROI and consider judging campaigns based on the total value they bring to your business – even in the case of Google Ads vs Facebook Ads. Value can be anything from building brand awareness to reaching potential customers or getting more leads, conversions, and purchases.

We want to wrap it up and leave you with the following thought:

Google Ads will help you find new customers right away and in the process, give you an instant return on your marketing investment. While Facebook Ads will help new customers find and explore you. And this way give you a better ROI in the long run.

Interested to learn more or discuss your thoughts? Check out these related articles or drop a comment below to start a discussion.

Related Facebook Article: How To Structure Your Facebook Ad Campaign For More Leads & Sales

Related Google Article: Learn the Best Ways to Make Money with Google Ads

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