Facebook Advertising vs. Google Adwords Overview

There are several things that are different about Google Adwords and Facebook Advertising.

If you are considering advertising on both networks, here’s what you need to know. Adwords and Facebook Ads both offer geotargeting, which makes both networks a good choice for local advertisers. Apart from geographic targeting, each network is very different in how you target the right users for your niche and you must keep this in mind as you plan your ad campaigns.

Advertising: Google vs. Facebook

Advertising: Google vs. Facebook

The combined reach of Google and Facebook is staggering, even in local markets. If you advertise on both of these networks and do it right, you can hit just about every single internet user that is a potential buyer of your products or services.

Online Buying Cycle

Before we get into the difference in targeting on these two networks, let’s go over the typical online buying cycle with some “golf keyword” examples:


This is the first stage of the buying cycle where the buyer’s attention is first focused on a new product or service (they are a “tire kicker”). ex. “new golf equipment”


At this point the buyer is researching information about the product or service and forming their impressions on whether they think it is right for them. ex. “golf club reviews”


By now the buyer has decided they want the product or service and knows what they want or need. “callaway diablo golf clubs”


The buyer is ready to buy the product or service. ex. “callaway diablo driver price”


Google Adwords

Adwords targets Google searchers via keywords, so you can tailor your keywords to specifically reach customers that are in certain stages of the buying cycle.

Depending on your product or service, you may have a need to target people in different stages of the buying cycle. For example, if you have a golf clubs review website you might want to target people earlier in the buying cycle than if you are a merchant who sells only Callaway Diablo drivers.

With the average search being something like four and five words long, building good keyword lists and creating ads with effective ROI will take knowledge, experience and testing to build a solid, successful Adwords campaign.

Facebook Advertising

Facebook is altogether different. You can target users by sex, age, sexual preference, marital status, education level, workplace, interests and language, but there is no “search keyword” targeting. When it comes to the buying cycle, you have to assume that everyone on Facebook is a “tire kicker”.

The Facebook targeting that is available and can be spot on depending on your niche. For instance if you run a dating service and target single people of a certain age or sexual preference you can get right in front of the right audience rather easily.

For most advertisers this is not the case. On Facebook your ad needs to create interest in your product or service and get people in to the buying cycle.

Just because someone lists gardening as an interest you can’t assume that they are interested in buying a greenhouse. Whereas on Google if you are targeting keywords like “where to buy a greenhouse” or “greenhouse prices” you will be targeting users further along in the buying cycle.

For Facebook you need to think outside the box, this is a totally different audience.

Finding the right customer on Facebook is much harder than on Adwords. You need to find the angle that will work for your niche.

You might think, I can just run an ad for my business and target everyone in my area. Here is what’s going to happen. Your ad will run for several thousand impressions (a couple hours locally) and Facebook will stop showing it if no one is clicking on it.

They will only run ads that people click on, that’s how they make money and if no one is interested in your ads you’re dead in the water.

Several different ads and targeting profiles will need to be run before you find the ones that will work for your product or service. These campaigns and ad groups can all be run simultaneously and on Facebook there is huge ad volume, so you can often tell whether an ad and it’s associated targeting profile is going to work or not within a couple of hours.

Ad Spend

I’ll give you an example from a recent campaign that ran simultaneously on both networks in the same local geographic area so you can see the difference. These campaigns were run for a merchant that sells items that run from about $1,500 to over $10,000.

The Facebook campaign started with five different ads and was boiled down to two ads after some testing and targeting users with a few different interest categories.


Average cost per click $1.18

Ad impressions: 17,059


Average cost per click: $0.24

Ad impressions:  353,700

We spent twice the total money on Adwords that we did on Facebook for this campaign. The Adwords users were way further along in the buying cycle, but the leads and interest that was generated by the Facebook campaign was phenominal and shows the potential that’s available with the right approach.

I would love to give more details about this campaign, show the ads we used and explain what demographic and user interests we targeted and why, but this campaign is slated to run in other local markets so I can’t do that.

No one had this client’s products listed as an interest (that would have been way too easy), so we had to think outside the box.

This particular Facebook campaign also only ended up targeting two very narrow niches that aren’t directly related to the client’s products, but its success showed us the potential for exploring other niches and gave us more ideas for future campaigns.

Advertising on Facebook has serious potential for your business, but you need to find the right combination of targeting and ad creatives to pull it off.


Facebook Advertising vs. Google Adwords Overview — 9 Comments

  1. Something that should be noted. The geotargeting on Google is different to that of facebook. Google target by IP Address, whereas facebook target by the city/town that you entered on your profile (user-profiling).

    So what’s the difference? Huge… for some small cities / towns with not as developed infrastructure.

    Take my city for example. My local service business is targeting customers ONLY from my geographical location. (Mind you, I also live in a capital city of Australia, not up in the hills in east-asia somewhere..)

    The thing is… MOST internet users in our city are actually connected via a VPN megalink network to an ISP on the other side of the country. So therefore 95% of users consequently have an IP address from the other side of the country. So obviously, this means that if you only target Internet users from my state/county, you will most likely miss 95% of your online customers.

    I have written to google and they have advised that the only way around this is for me to use keyword targeting. Fair enough…

    This is where facebook has been a revelation, because I am actually able to geotarget using facebook’s user-profiling system.

    I’m sure facebook’s user-profile geotargeting will become more of a small city/town online marketing feature of the future (where IP addresses are ineffective due to tunnelling megalinks)

  2. Good point Bernard.

    From your example, I can see where Google targeting the visitor via IP address can be a problem. I believe this is similar to when people log on in the US via AOL IP addresses.

    The most accurate targeting is where the user is actually telling you where they are located (FB profile info).

    When I help with Google Adwords targeting for local businesses, I always recommend running two campaigns.

    The first campaign uses Google’s geotargeting with just the product/service keywords (ex. “plumbing”). The second campaign (non-geotargeted) uses product/service keywords with location keywords attached (ex. “plumbing Hyannis Massachusetts”). This way you can cover the area more efficiently and get to users that may not be reached via the IP geotargeting.

    Thanks for the comment!

  3. I hate facebook ads everytime i spend my money on an ad for facebook page of mine i feel like i am tossing money down the tubes! I have run many different types of ads with the same results over and over again. NOTHING! it seems that there is a LOT of people in my store when i run a facebook ad but the bottom line is there is NO NO activity ever! Note once has a facebook person been on my site and looked at another page after hours and hours and hours of being there its almost like a scam!

  4. Some great discussions about Adwords and Facebook Ads here… Facebook ad seems to be more potential however Mimi’s comments making me wonder.. what it is that might be going wrong? Is it the type of campaign ? Or is it the selection of keywords? Why isn’t Mimi getting anything out of Facebook ads?