The two most popular online advertising sites for the last several years have been Google and Facebook. Each does tens of billions in sales annually. Advertising is the main source of income for their respective companies. Both use an auction style bid process, and both have an ability to target granularly. In the media, they are often portrayed as adversarial, but as a marketer it is not always an “either or” scenario. Google Ads and Facebook have their own strengths and weaknesses, so you can use them separately or together, depending on your objective.

Google Ads

Google Ads, or paid search, is based on a set of keywords and phrases that help you target the potential customers who are interested in those topics. An advertiser will bid on those keywords in hopes that when someone types them into the query bar, their ad will show. If the user clicks on the ad then the advertiser is charged, which is why we call it “Pay-Per-Click” or PPC. As an advertiser you are paying in the hope of acquiring a new site visitor based on their interest in the keywords or search terms they have typed.

Facebook Ads

Facebook, or paid social, is the practice of advertising on social networks. These ads work by first selecting the type of person you’re targeting. Facebook collects extensive data on what each subscriber likes or does and has a very detailed profile on most of its users. An advertiser may decide they want their ad to go to males 25-54 who like football and live in the state of New York. The ad will then only display to users that match that description.

How They Work

What makes Facebook and Google different is how they reach their customer. With Google, the prospect has raised their hand and said, “I am interested in your product or service”. The prospect has shown intent. Because of intent search ads usually perform better than display ads when it comes to driving conversions directly off of clicks. You are often reaching people further down the sales funnel. Google is great at reaching people as they research products or look for goods or services to purchase in the near future.

Facebook is much better at moving a more passive audience to action. Because Facebook learns so much about us as we use the app, they have an unparalleled level of granularity. Is what you market an impulse buy? Then use Facebook. Selling a pair of expensive leather shoes? Facebook knows if a person is interested in Fashion, as well as Health and Beauty and meets a certain income profile.

If you have a very detailed profile of your target audience based on previous sales Facebook can build look-a-like audiences. Look-a-like audiences are people who match the characteristics of your customer base. Using data collected from sales, such as email addresses, you can upload information from your customer database to Facebook for look-a-like targeting.

One more thing to consider about Facebook. It is highly visual, allowing for powerful combinations of images or video and text.

Facebook Or Google

Instead of seeing Facebook and Google as adversarial platforms consider how you can use them together. Maybe your Google ad can reach a prospect as they begin their research. After they click on your ad you can retarget them on Facebook with a bold visual ad. Some brands use Facebook to excite cold audiences and then Google to close the deal. Branded searches often increase after seeing a Facebook ad.

Or use them simultaneously focusing on their strengths. Create lookalike audiences from people who click on your Google ads. Many times you will not have enough customers to create an effective look-a-like audience. Use the next best thing, people who have responded to a Google ad for your product or service.

Take advantage of the unique functionality of each platform. Both Google and Facebook can produce outstanding ROI’s if used to their strengths. You don’t have to choose Facebook or Google, use them both.