To be clear, the Facebook Ads vs Google Ads debate isn't anything like the Apple vs Microsoft debate or anything like that. It doesn't come down to personal preference and in most cases it's not a "Facebook or Google" question – you're likely to need both.

The differences between Facebook Ads and Google Ads are fundamental in nature, though. Both platforms are extremely powerful and do completely different things.

Ready to get into it? Let's go...

The #1 Biggest Difference Between Facebook Ads & Google Ads

While there are a lot of important differences between Facebook Ads and Google Ads that I'm going to cover, the most fundamental difference is this...

Facebook Ads are a form of Push Marketing while Google Ads are a form of Pull Marketing (also known as Inbound Marketing). These are key marketing concepts that especially apply to online marketing.

Push Marketing is any marketing or advertising that attempts to push products and services and brands toward consumers, typically by interrupting them and trying to get their attention.

The Facebook Ads platform places your advertisements in the Facebook News feed so that people see them as they scroll. Good Facebook Ads work by catching people's attention and then getting them to take a specific action.

facebook ad example

It's classic Interruption Marketing. The consumer wasn't looking for you or asking for you – you just showed up and interrupted what they were already doing.

Pull Marketing is any marketing effort where you show up for the consumer in the right place at the right time, typically when they're looking for your business (or a business like yours).

Google PPC Ads (Pay Per Click), where you bid on keywords people are searching for, are classic Pull Marketing. Someone is looking for exactly what your business provides and you're simply paying to show up in the list of results.

google ads example

See the big difference?

Understanding Push vs Pull, when to use which, and how to use each are some of the keys to effective marketing.

Note: you can technically run Push ads through Google via Google's Display Network and YouTube, but the backbone of Google Ads is search marketing.

Are Google Ads Better Than Facebook Ads Then?

Answering this question really depends on the context and the execution. Sometimes it makes sense to interrupt people and sometimes it doesn't.

We also can't pretend that small businesses have unlimited marketing dollars. There are times when Facebook Ads are the right play based on your budget and there are times where Google ads are the right play.

The best move for your business is understanding the pros and cons of each platform, looking at your budget and goals, and deciding accordingly.

I'll also say this: One of the best online advertising strategies involves using Google Ads and Facebook Ads to at the same time to target the same people (but we shouldn't get too far into the weeds in this article).

Facebook Ads: Pros & Cons

Facebook Ads are GREAT for...

  • Achieving maximum brand awareness in a market.
  • Targeting people by personal information, location, and demographics.
  • Retargeting people who previously interacted with your business on Facebook, Instagram, or specific pages of your website.
  • Connecting and converting with video.
  • Staying top of mind with your target market and building know/like/trust.
  • Converting people to a next step without the user needing to leave Facebook.

Some DOWNSIDES to Facebook Ads are...

  • It's easy to believe you're targeting the right people with your ads when you really aren't.
  • Most users don't want to leave Facebook, so any offers that ask them to leave the platform require more expertise to work.
  • It can be really expensive if you don't understand how brand awareness and retargeting work.
  • Facebook has a lot of rules and restrictions regarding ad creative, ad copy, and so on. It can be frustrating getting ads approved and the platform may not be viable at all for businesses in certain industries.
  • The Facebook Ads dashboard is pretty awful from a user experience standpoint – it's not at all enjoyable to use.

Google Ads: Pros & Cons

For the purposes of this article, I'm talking primarily about Google PPC Ads (Pay Per Click). I'll talk about YouTube Ads and Display Ads in a future article.

Google PPC Ads are GREAT For...

  • Showing up in front of people who are looking for exactly what your business has to offer.
  • Showing up not just as a business, but as a business offering the exact service or product the searcher was looking for.
  • Targeting searchers at different stages of the buyer's journey so you can build your audience and warm people up just as effectively as you can close sales for people who are ready to buy right now.
  • Targeting searchers within a specific area. For example, you can choose to only show up for searchers who are searching for what you offer within 10 miles of your business.
  • Targeting searchers by specific demographics, interests, and behaviors (but less robust than Facebook).

Some DOWNSIDES To Google Ads are...

  • It requires a solid understanding of SEO and keyword research to run and scale Google Ads effectively.
  • There's a steep learning curve with respect to keyword targeting inside the Google Ads platform, choosing negative keywords, and tracking results.
  • Most of the obviously good keywords are extremely competitive and expensive to target.
  • You need to send search traffic to a very targeted, high-conversion landing page so they don't just poke around a leave.
  • You're extremely limited with respect to how much you can write and how your ad ultimately looks.
  • It's very easy to spend a lot of money with very little in the way of results if you don't know what you're doing.

As you can see from the extensive list of pros and cons, Facebook ads vs Google ads is more about knowing the nuances and fundamentals than choosing one platform over the other.

My Google Ads + Facebook Ads Layering Strategy

Personally, I prefer to use both platforms to target the same users. I use Google Ads to get a business to show up in front of people who are searching for their products and services and then I use Facebook retargeting ads to stay top of mind with those same visitors until they convert.

This is one of the most effective ways to use both platforms because it ensures that you're only running ads to:

  1. People who demonstrated a desire for what you provide.
  2. People who have already heard about you at least once.

This completely eliminates the large expense of running interruption ads to cold audiences. It's not my only strategy, but it's a good one and fundamental to the two platforms.

Hot Tip: If you want eye-catching photos for your ads, check out Gratisography on my list of cheap stock photo sites.

Youtube Ads vs Facebook Ads

One form of Google advertising that has a very direct comparison to Facebook advertising is the YouTube ads platform. YouTube, of course, is owned by Google.

Both of these platforms allow you to run video ads and target those video ads to specific people. The big difference here is that people on YouTube are on YouTube to watch videos where people on Facebook watch videos, but aren't there specifically to watch videos.

There are also differences in cost. YouTube ads tend to be less expensive right now. I'll eventually do a full YouTube vs Facebook comparison for advertising to expand on all the pros and cons, so make sure you subscribe to my newsletter.

Final Thoughts: Facebook Ads vs Google Ads

Regardless of the platform you choose to use (or maybe you go with both), there needs to be a solid understanding of copywriting, targeting, offer design, key business numbers, and more.

Any business that thinks they're just gonna fire up some Facebook Ads or Google Ads willy nilly and get great results is kidding themselves. It pays BIG to have an expert managing your online advertising.

The first thing I always do with businesses is get a clear understanding of the business' goals, how their sales pipeline works, and the numbers involved. Then, I develop a unique advertising strategy specific to your business. My digital marketing team at Hamon Creative implements the strategy, I monitor the data, we make tweaks and adjustments, and we report on the results consistently.

Online advertising is something that requires maximum attention. These are your dollars at work, so don't wing it.