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Google Ads vs Facebook Ads: which wins and why?

If you are trying to decide where to focus your advertising dollar and determining who wins in Google Ads vs Facebook Ads, then you need to read this.

A lot of customers that we deal are undecided on where they should be spending their digital marketing dollar. Google has traditionally done a great job of delivering cost-effective leads and conversions to their business so why would they want to change? Especially why would they want to switch to a platform where those leads and customers have a voice.

Here is our advice as to the pro’s and con’s of both platforms, and where you should be putting your marketing dollar going forward.

Google Ads

Google Ads appear in search results

What is it?

When you search on Google there are 3 (or 4) components to the Ad results shown:

  • Google Ads – Paid listings from advertisers.
  • Google My Business – Map listings showing the top-ranked providers in the user’s location.
  • Organic Results – Listings based on the relevance of your website content compared to the search term.
  • Google Shopping – If the search that a user is doing is for a product that you can buy online, then you may see an array of product images appear at the top of the page along with a description, price and brand:
Google Shopping leads to more conversions thanks to its visual component

How does it work?

To set up Google Ads, you need to do a bit of groundwork first. There are several components to your ads:

  • Ad Campaigns: campaigns are set at a product or service level and contain Ad Groups, Keywords and Ad Copy that are relevant to them. Example: Women’s Clothing
  • Ad Groups: specific groups of ads where you include all Keywords related to a topic. Google recommends that Ad Groups contain 20 to 30 Keywords which means they need to be specific. Example: Women’s Red Stilettos
  • Keywords: These are the search terms that a user enters into Google that you would like you Ads to appear for in the results. They are going to be specific to the Ad Group in which you place them for example: “ Buy Red Stilettos”, “Buy Red Stilettos Online”, “Red Stiletto Price”, “Where can I buy Red Stilettos.”
  • Ad Copy: The specific copy that appears in the search results when your ad appears. Ad Copy is made up of several components:
    • Headline: the bold but that tells users what you’re selling
    • Description: a more detailed description of your product or service
    • Display URL: the URL that you want users to see when you ad appears
    • Extensions: add-ons to your add that display relevant information about your business that will help customers convert, such as a phone number, an address, prices, ratings, reviews etc
Google Ad Copy Example
  • Landing Page: While this isn’t a Google Ads product it is critical to the advertising process. To find out more read our article 5 Tips for your Google Ads Success

Daily Budgets

Once you have set up your ads, then you set a budget which is called your Ad Spend. You tell Google how much it is that you are willing to spend daily. Google will then give you an idea of how many clicks you can expect to get for this spend. Adjusting your spend will bring more or fewer conversions.

The Bidding Process

As well as setting a budget, you need to establish a rule on how much you are willing to spend when someone clicks on your ad.

In it’s most basic form, your bid goes up against the bids of whoever else is competing on the same search term. Whoever is willing to spend the most* will appear at the top of the results, but they don’t have to pay their maximum amount. They will only pay as much as you were willing to pay. Here is an example:

  • You want to appear for the search term “buy red stilettos” so you include it in your ad group “red stilettos.”
  • You are willing to bid $2 whenever someone clicks on your ad and ends up on your website
  • You have two competitors that are also bidding on the same keyword, competitor A is willing to spend $3, and competitor B is willing to spend $1
  • When the user searches your ads appear in the following order (with what each advertiser pay in brackets:
    • Position 1: Competitor A – ranks 1st because they were willing to pay the most (they pay $2 because that is what you were willing to pay, but they won the auction)
    • Position 2: You – Because you were willing to pay the next highest amount (you pay $1 because that is what Competitor B was willing to spend)
    • Position 3: Competitor B – because they were the next highest bidder (they pay whatever the 4th bidder in the auction would have been willing to spend)

*There’s a catch

Your position in search results isn’t based solely on your bid. Google wants to provide relevant search results to its users, so it determines your ranking on two factors:

  • Max Bid – how much you are willing to bid
  • Quality Score – the quality and relevance of your ad

Adjusting your bid will gain you more or fewer conversions, the same as your budget does. Ensuring the quality of your ads and your landing page are high will give you a boost, increase your conversion rates and in the long run give you a better ROI.

Who should use it?

Google provides a service for users who want to know, want to go, want to do, or want to buy. Users go to Google to find a solution.

If your product or service provides that solution, then you should look at Google Ads.

It is a lot more competitive now than when it launched, and this competition is making it more expensive to use. If you are going to use it, then you must have your website ready and optimised for converting your users; otherwise, you could be spending money for now result.


  • Reach large audiences
  • Captures users in the research or decision-making process
  • Remarketing allows you to get a second bite of the cherry
  • Tailored ad copy resonates with users and leads to increased conversion rates
  • You only pay for clicks
  • You can track your ROI


  • It’s expensive
  • There’s a lot of competition out there
  • It is complicated to set up, and even more challenging to do it well

Facebook Ads

What is it?

Facebook Ads appear like posts in your feed or the right-hand column of your page if you are on a desktop.

Facebook Ads can look just like a post in your news feed

The content is sometimes partnered with social actions that you or your Facebook friends have taken, such as attending an event, ‘liking’ a page, or interacting with a post.

Ads can appear based on actions that you or your friends have taken on Facebook

How Does It Work?

Facebook Ads differs from Google in that you are paying for impressions, rather than clicks which means you aren’t necessarily getting any traffic. As a result, you need to make sure that the ads you are creating are relevant and engaging to the users.

Facebook provides part of the solution to this by offering audience targeting. There are three types of targeting that you can use (click on each to read more):

  • Core Audience Targeting: Target people using Facebook location, demographics, interests and behaviours.
  • Custom Audience Targeting: Consisting of existing customers you already have such as email and CRM databases or phone app subscriptions.
  • Look-alike Audiences: Create new unique audiences using your Custom Audience data and merging it with Facebook Core Audience Targeting.

Facebook is also very much visual, so your content has to capture users attention quickly. You can read more about how to create effective Facebook advertising here:

How to Craft Effective Facebook Advertising

Who Should Use It?

Users don’t go to Facebook to buy; they go there to connect with the outside world. That means your advertising is less likely to lead to a direct conversion than Google is.

Being less likely to convert is part of the reason why Facebook is a lot cheaper than Google Ads. But being more affordable means that it is awesome for those who want to get reach and exposure to their audiences.

Using Facebook to promote events or to gain brand exposure is very affordable.

How to get conversions

Impressions can still lead to conversions; it’s just that the sales process can take a little more time. You’re not catching users in the moment; you have to craft the moment for them.

Using Facebook Pixel allows you to implement remarketing so that you can work on the long term conversion.


  • Reach existing and new audiences
  • Targeting allows you to be very specific
  • Lower costs
  • Content flexibility – images and video
  • Easy to use
  • Great for branding


  • Low organic reach – you need to pay for your exposure
  • Less conversion friendly
  • Content needs to be engaging
  • You need a good follow up strategy
  • Facebook likes its users to stay on Facebook, not your website


So which do you use and why? If you are looking to maximise your returns, then you should be doing both and tying it in with a great website. Taking a multi-channel approach increases your brand exposure, gives you access to a broader audience and leads to more conversions.

If you did have to choose one over the other, then Google Ads would be your choice if your business sells products or services that users search for online before they buy. It’s especially useful for ‘need it now’ services such as plumbers & electricians where users don’t have time to do too much research, and it’s taken the place of the old Yellow Pages in this sense.

If you are promoting products or events that users haven’t heard of or considered before, then this is where Facebook Ads comes to the fore. It’s Audience Insights and targeting also beats Google hands down.

Need Help?

NewyMedia is a digital marketing company based in Newcastle, Australia. If you need help with Facebook or Google advertising, then we are here to help. You can contact us here, or sign up below to join our mailing list for more great tips and advice.

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