Will the real PPC search provider please stand up??

PPC otpimization facebook ads google adwords

It is no small secret that the ever enduring question of the digital age for both marketers and business owners alike is whether to select Google Adwords or Facebook Ads when engaging in PPC advertising campaigns. Putting aside organic search and referral traffic for a digital age moment, today’s industry leaders continue to scratch their heads when faced with the proposition of investing time, energy, and potential ROI resources into either:

  1. The digital age’s leading global search engine that processes an average of over 40,000 searches every second (i.e. Google), or
  2. The digital age’s leading social media network that is currently visited by 1.13 billion daily active users (i.e. Facebook).

Yet, before we get into the nitty-gritty of the fight that never ends (i.e. the marketing version of the Rocky Balboa series), let’s quickly review “the why” behind pay-per-click advertising. To begin, we should remember that PPC ads and their traffic, as opposed to organic and referral traffic, tend to have one singular goal – conversion.

Although 45.5% of the population cannot identify the difference between PPC and non-PPC ads, pay-per-click ads are unique in their ability to stimulate action in what are referred to as the “bottom of the funnel” consumers. A recent study by WordStream highlighted this exact point, revealing that when it comes to commercial intent keyword searches, 64.6% of clicks are allocated to Google Adwords PPC ads. This is almost a 2:1 margin over organic links!

In plain english, these statistics essentially mean that PPC ads are more likely to yield users with high “purchase intent,” and that the probability of actual conversion with PPC ads is noticeably higher than it is with organic or referral traffic. Yet, we must also understand that there exists a rather accurate perception that PPC ad campaigns are so specific in their targeting, that they are actually detrimental to potential campaign reach. Therefore, returning to our original question, which PPC search provider should business owners and marketers select in order to help build their “value narrative?”

Google Adwords or Facebook Ads?

In order to help reach a conclusion, let’s take a look at some of the most important points of reference for both.

#1 Targeting With Facebook Ads

facebook ads google adwords

Understanding that efficient and appropriate targeting is one of the most important aspects of any PPC ad campaign, it is a logical point of comparison with which to start our review. Beginning with Facebook Ads, we find a wide range of targeting filters that 400 million advertisers use to focus on target market segmentation. These filters include:

#2 Targeting With Google Adwords

facebook ads google adwords

As we just reviewed, the PPC targeting options available with Facebook Ads are diverse and plentiful. What about Google Adwords?

Well, while Adwords grants its users the ability to show ads based on user preferences, as a platform, it doesn’t have access to the highly detailed social data that Facebook does. Adwords doesn’t know when users “like” relevant life stage posts, and it cannot “see” valuable user profile data. With Google Adwords, ad relevance largely depends on the search terms that are being used. This means that while Google may have an advantage due to the sheer breadth of its data exposure, its hyper targeting options are limited.

Some of its main Adwords targeting devices include:


#3 Cost-Per-Click

facebook ads google adwords

While the targeting options for both platforms differ slightly in regards to the details, one area of significant divergence is with the cost-per-click of each platform. With Google Adwords, advertisers can spend more than $100 per click (often directly dependent upon on how competitive the selected industry is), and the bills can quickly accumulate. Facebook, on the other hand, provides marketers with cost effective rates going as low as $0.16 per click.

While Facebook’s CPC is generally lower, something important to keep in mind as a measurement for cost effectiveness is the cost-per-acquisition (CPA), and the conversion rate. For example, let’s say that that the cost-per-click is five times less on Facebook ($5.00 compared to $25.00), but Adwords is capable of converting at a rate that is 10 times higher. This would mean that the cost-per-acquisition on Adwords is $50, while the cost-per-acquisition on Facebook is actually $250. Therefore, even though you potentially pay less per-click with Facebook, Adwords would be more cost effective when measuring cost-per-acquisition.

An important question that marketers often ask is, “Why the difference in initial cost?” This is because Google, unlike Facebook, is not only aware of the products that are sold online, but it is also aware how many people search for those products, how many ad positions are occupied, and how many are available. It is the basic notion of supply and demand, and it is for this reason that competitive industries tend to have a higher cost-per-click. Facebook, on the other hand, while understanding when there is a general “interest” in a product, does not have access to the data required to fully comprehend what is necessary to make a sale.

This also means that while Facebook Ads are cheaper to begin with, the price-per-click can actually increase as an ad campaign grows and acquires more performance measurables. This is an important factor to understand when weighing the financial costs/benefits of both.

#4 Brand Equity

facebook ads google adwords

An important, but often overlooked goal for digital age advertising is the notion of brand equity. While it is true that marketers absolutely desire to achieve a consumer conversion in the short-term, proper marketing should also focus on building long-term consumer loyalty. It is here, with brand equity, where we really see a significant difference between Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

Adwords focuses on what we can call the traditional path of the consumer value narrative. That is to say, when potential consumers click on a PPC ad, they are then taken directly to a company’s landing page, and it is here that compelling copy, design, and product information do their part to foster consumer loyalty. It is also within this landing page where consumers may feel obligated to question product claims, testimonials, and the overall sales agenda of the brand in question. Google takes this into account, and may actually lower a website ranking if visitors leave too quickly.

Turning to Facebook Ads, we see several strong brand equity attributes that are not present with Google Adwords. These include social proof and word-of-mouth marketing. Potential consumers are more likely to respond positively to PPC ads when they see that their trusted friends and family members have already approved of a company’s product and brand message. With Facebook Ads, users are exposed to this notion of peer review on a more frequent basis, allowing companies to build significant amounts of brand equity before the make or break culmination of a landing page arrival.

This idea of “keeping the conversation going” is an important aspect of digital (and social) marketing that is not to be overlooked when considering PPC search provider options.

And The Winner Is…

From brand equity, to cost efficiency, to targeting methods, there appears to be both significant and subtle differences between today’s two kings of PPC advertising. While other important impact factors exist when it comes to both Google Adwords and Facebook Ads (i.e. mobile performance), the categories we reviewed above can go a long way in helping determine which PPC search provider is best for you. While Google Adwords appears to be the go-to-option for immediate and efficient sales, it is hard to rival Facebook Ads when it comes to brand awareness and lead generation.

For us, it is a close call, and not one that we can make for you. Therefore, we leave you with a list of the objective pros and cons of both, to help you decide which PPC search provider is best for you, your brand, and your future ROI…

Facebook Ads Pros:

Facebook Ads Cons:

Google Adwords Pros:

Google Adwords Cons: