For most digital marketers and businesses who market online, the two most popular advertising platforms on the Internet, Google Ads & Facebook Ads, have long been regarded as fierce rivals. Advertisers the world over have often battled over which one is better for attracting visitors, garnering leads, and converting customers.
The truth is that both platforms are excellent vehicles for achieving the marketing goals stated above – if that were not so then why would both companies be making so much money in advertising revenue?
Which one will be more effective for you all depends on your aims, your niche, and your marketing strategies.
As it is impossible to know the exact marketing criteria for every reader who peruses this article, we shall compare the two by discussing each one’s features and letting the reader decide which one is best.
Let’s get started…
Paid Search vs. Paid Social
Before we list out each feature, let’s first take a look at the basic difference between the two advertising giants in the way of targeting audiences.
Google Ads uses a paid search platform to allow their advertisers to bid on keywords that potential customers are typing or voice recording into the Google search bar.
Each time an advertiser’s ad is clicked, they must pay for that click – that is why it is called Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising.
Facebook Ads uses paid social to help potential leads and customers find the advertiser. While the advertising platform does not use keywords to target a specific audience, it does allow advertisers to show their ads to users who exhibit certain behaviors in-line with the advertiser’s criteria.
In essence, both are the same in that they offer their collected data to advertisers to find and promote to a specific audience but Google Adwords uses keywords to reach this objective and Facebook Ads uses user behavior instead.
Both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads use a bidding system in their auctions.
Facebook Bidding: The advertiser tells Facebook how much they want to pay (bid) for every action taken when their ad is seen (i.e. engagement, click, like, share, etc…).
Facebook allows the following options for their bidding platform:
- Choosing Goals (Objectives)
- Define Audience
- Manage Budget
- Ad Delivery Optimization
- Set Bid Amount
- Schedule Ad
- Choose Delivery Type
- The bidding options are as follows:
- Auto Bidding (Facebook Chooses Bid)
- Manual Bidding (Advertiser Chooses Bid Through A-Max Cap or Specific Cost For Each Action Taken)
Google Bidding: Google Adwords also allows advertisers to choose how much they bid but on a specific keyword and not on a specific action.
- The advertiser selects a keyword or group of keywords to bid on and then Google deciphers how much they will charge the advertiser based on the following criteria:
- Maximum Bid Amount (Max Price Advertiser is Willing to Pay for a Specific Keyword)
- Quality Score (How Relevant the Ad is to the Keyword + How Many Times the Ad is Clicked Each Time it is Shown)
- Both of the above metrics are combined to come up with what Google calls an “Ad Rank”, which ultimately determines how much they will charge for showing the advertiser’s ad(s).
- Google Adwords allows the following bid options:
- Manual Bidding (Advertiser Chooses Their Price)
- Auto Bidding (Google Chooses Bid Price According to a Select Group of Criteria – Attempts to Maximize Clicks & Conversions by Altering the Bid Price on Regular Intervals)
Relevancy & Quality
This topic was briefly touched upon above, however, it can not be overstated enough that both companies use this metric to both qualify an ad and determine how much the advertiser should pay for it.
If a particular ad is receiving a high relevance – quality score, then both Facebook and Google will reduce the cost-per-action (CPA – Facebook) or the Cost-Per-Click (CPC – Google) and show the ad more frequently.
Facebook Ads Relevance Score: This is Facebook’s measure of how they view an ad. In other words, how beneficial and pertinent they believe it is to their users.
Facebook will increase costs and decrease the amount of time the ad is shown if they decide that an advertiser’s ad is not useful enough and vice versa if they feel the ad is highly-relevant.
Each Facebook Ad is scored from 1-10, 1 being the lowest score and 10 being the highest.
The following components are what Facebook uses to determine an ad’s relevancy score:
- Audience Definition
- Ad Freshness
- Campaign Objective
- Expected Feedback
These components are not as defined as Google’s quality score metrics are (shown below), which makes their scoring extremely subjective. This makes it harder to gauge what should be done to improve an ad should it get a low relevance score.
Google Adwords Quality Score: This is used to rate an advertiser’s chosen keyword(s) and ad(s). Google’s quality score determines the actual amount they will allow an advertiser to pay at auction for a specific keyword.
The score is multiplied by the max cost an advertiser is willing to pay for a keyword set to reach a final CPC price.
Google uses the following factors to come up with a quality score:
- Click-Through-Rate (CTR – How Many Times an Ad is Clicked as Compared to How Many Times it is Shown)
- Ad Quality (Relevance to Keyword
- Quality of Landing Page (Relevance to Keyword)
- Ad Text (Relevance to Keyword)
- Historical Performance (Advertiser’s Adword Account)
Like Facebook, Google also uses a scoring scale of 1-10 to determine quality, 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest.
Estimated Action rate
While Google takes only 2 factors into account when ranking an ad, Facebook takes 3, which increases the ability for direct response advertisements to covert.
Facebook Estimated Action Rate: Facebook is able to help marketers better choose their objective before launching their campaigns with their proprietary estimated action rate algorithm. This algorithm uses previous data to make an educated guess of what an advertiser’s results should be if they chose a particular objective.
This helps the advertiser in choosing a successful objective before they even start the campaign.
As part of this feature, Facebook will stop running a campaign if it is not able to optimize it, saving the advertiser money in the process.
Google Conversion Goals: Google Adwords does not predict any such results as Facebook does before an ad is launched but does give the advertiser the ability to track each and every click and conversion through a pixel.
After collecting a bit of data, an advertiser can set their bids to “auto” in order to better optimize their conversion goals.
Basically, an advertiser has to set their objectives on their own and can only change them once they have collected some data. Of course, they might lose some money in the process before they are able to collect enough pertinent data to optimize their campaign.
In the end, Google Adwords and Facebook Ads offer two distinct and varied ways in which to target an audience and convert that audience. Which of these two platforms are best for advertisers depends on the each advertiser’s particular objective, and most importantly, where their model customers “hang out” online – Google Search, Facebook, or both?
In general, experienced marketers can perform well on both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads, while beginners are more likely to succeed on only Facebook as their ad platform has the ability to auto-optimize a campaign on an advertiser’s behalf.
Hope that helped!
Ted runs Ice Cube Marketing, a digital marketing agency in Singapore that helps local small businesses acquire leads from channels such as Facebook and Google.
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