Facebook Advertising vs. Google Adwords: Do you really need to ask?

ByLoran Simon|Our Service

For us the answer is a no-brainer, you should be doing both but let us tell you why.

We know many of you are sceptical about Facebook (or simply don’t like social media). However, whatever your personal views are on social networks and Facebook in particular, no-one can deny the success of its advertising business. In terms of social media advertising (aka paid social), Facebook reigns supreme.

And that is our starting point, Google adwords and Facebook are very different advertising platforms but both are giants in their own right. Individually and combined, they dominate the advertising landscape and will continue to do so purely based on the strength of their reach. Facebook has nearly 2 billion monthly active users and google processes over 3.5 billion searches per day.

For small to medium sized local businesses targeting consumers (B2C), then appealing to your audiences through both platforms is a well rounded and effective strategy. Let us tell you why:

The same but different

We’ve already said it but while both platforms are formidable advertising platforms, they are quite different. Google has become synonymous with what is known as ‘paid search’, until it’s almost the only player in town (sorry Bing!). Whereas Facebook offers ‘paid social’. One of the most eloquent descriptions we’ve read was by Wordstream: “AdWords helps you find new customers, while Facebook helps new customers find you.”

Or to put it another way, Google adwords helps businesses find new customers based on the the keywords and search terms they use.  Facebook, on the other hand, matches potential new customers to businesses based on who they are, what they like and where they live.

Already, most of you will be seeing the party line divide. Google is all about ‘intent’ - what specifically did ‘prospect A’ need to achieve today that brought them on to google to search for a solution. Versus Facebook being largely about interruption - you’re here and you look like someone who might be interested in my product because of all the things you’ve said about yourself, let me show what you can have.

Interruption vs Intent

Let’s explore this further. Lots of marketing is disruptive. We might be able to skip the adverts on TV now with playback, but disruption is at the heart of advertising, whatever the channel. Paid social is no exception and the fact is, it works. I didn’t intend to get side-tracked into looking at those pearly white teeth and wishing they were mine, I just did and before I know it I’m a paying customer.

That said, if I know what it is I’m looking for, I'm not likely to go onto a social network to find it. It's far more likely I'll pull up google on my PC or phone and begin a search query. And importantly, my intent is far greater. I have a problem and google is helping me solve it.

The takeaway is that someone with intent might be a better quality lead than the person who's interest was piqued on a social media channel. However, the targeting options on Facebook are second to none, which means as an advertising channel it offers local businesses a unique opportunity to tailor their message and adverts to hugely targeted audiences which isn’t as possible on google or any other search engine.

A level playing field

If some of you express concerns about Facebook, others worry that Google favours the giants, the big boys with deeper pockets. We talked about this before, and we’ll say it again, AdWords focuses primarily on the quality and relevance of ads, not on how much advertisers spend.

With Google, advertisers with relevant, optimised, high-quality ads pay less than those with poorer, less relevant ads and destination pages. You don't have to be big to win the top spot, you just need to design, build and execute quality campaigns.

Turning back to Facebook, it's highly competitive pricing make it an ideal channel for advertising and when taken in combination with the granularity of its targeting options, suddenly you have an advertising channel that is hard to ignore in terms of marketing potential.

So the message here is clear. Don’t shy away from google in thinking you’re too small to play, Google isn’t only for the big brands with big budgets. It offers unprecedented access to potential customers looking for precisely what you're offering while levelling the playing field in a way that other channels have hitherto failed to do.

And, don’t ignore Facebook. Paid social on Facebook brings you closer than ever to audiences who look like your current customer base and because your cost cost-per-conversion is so much lower on Facebook than adwords, you can afford to bet on an interest being piqued rather than intention satisfied.

Play to each platform’s strengths

Hopefully, you’re beginning to see that used together Facebook and Google is a powerful marketing strategy. The key is to adopt strategies that align with the the functionality of each platform to generate the best return on you advertising spend.

Each platform has very individual strengths. Facebook is an inherently visual platform. It actively encourages visual, interactive content which is quite different to google’s text-based approach.  Visual content in itself is a marketers dream and coupled with the ability to create “lookalike audiences,” drawn from existing customer information uploaded to the platform, it’s possible to target a whole new customer base of people who exhibit the same interests and consumer behavior as your existing customer base.

In comparison, advertising on google looks positively bland, however the power of google’s technology and the functionality it offers advertisers more than makes up:  ad extensions, sitelinks, social proofing such as user reviews, location targeting and a host of other features are available to advertisers, offering an unparalleled level of customisation and control to advertisers.

So, the question isn’t whether you should invest in Facebook or Google, it’s how much you should invest in each. Facebook offers lower costs and excellent demographic targeting. Google serves up unparalleled search intent. We believe and our dentists will vouch for the fact, there is more than a place for both in your digital marketing strategy.

Done properly, your digital marketing campaigns on each will deliver excellent returns on your marketing spend. It’s not either or, they should be used in concert.

If you can spare 15 minutes for a call, let us tell you precisely how we do it to achieve maximum return. Book a call with us today!

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About the Author

After generating more than 85,000 patients for our own dental lab, and for the clients of our digital marketing agency for dental practices, I cracked the code for running successful online marketing campaigns.