The Difference Between Facebook Ads and Google Ads

Digital advertising through Facebook and Google are both effective ways of targeting potentially untapped or relevant audiences.

Digital advertising through Facebook and Google are both effective ways of targeting potentially untapped or relevant audiences but with similar, yet slightly different methods. When used alongside each other, a strong online marketing presence can be established for your company. But why would businesses use either?

Google and Facebook ads are budget-friendly, fast and effective methods of reaching people online who have in some way expressed an interest in a product, service or topic related to your advertisement. Using the platform-specific dashboards to outline and define the parameters for your budget limitations, potentially significant keywords, location targets and demographic preferences helps to define your requirements and strategy for the ad campaign, as well as increase your chances of achieving your goals. Whether your aim is to increase traffic levels to your website, sell products, services or push downloads of your app, there is ample opportunity to focus your advertisements to achieve results.

Why would I run a Facebook Ad?

Facebook uses its knowledge of its users to push advertisements to people who it believes may have an interest in the contents of your advertisement. When a Facebook advertisement is set up, a number of parameters are offered, allowing you to define your budget, key information to help Facebook understand the kind of people you are hoping to market to, and further distinctive information, such as whether you would like to focus on a specific geographical location and or have an ideal demographic.

The key is that Facebook uses your specifications to push your adverts to people it feels would be a good option to sell to. Usually these users have expressed some form of interest in something related to your advertisement, or meet your preferred criteria. The criteria set may be based on a keyword, group, activity, or interest the user has defined or subscribed to on their profile, or they may have expressed interest in similar products and services online previously. The important thing to note is that Facebook Ads are targeted to profiles of some relation to the contents of or criteria set for your advertisement.

How are Google Ads different to Facebook Ads?

The difference is Google sells to its users based on their search queries. Google Ads are pushed to people searching for something that Google’s algorithm believes matches your Google Ad content. Your ad will then display in a prominent, relevant position to the reader with the aim to attract them to your advert. You then pay per click (PPC) on the advertisement.

Google Ads are slightly more complicated than Facebook Ads in that there are multiple types of Google Ads that are positioned in different key locations depending on the type you choose:

Display ads

Ads that display on videos, websites or online articles as users are browsing.

Search ads

Ads that display in The Google Search Network (websites and apps which display ads beside their content or beside search results).

App ads

The goal with Apps is to gain and maintain active users. Promoting your app on Google Search, Google Play, Youtube and as many platforms and websites as possible is ideal, making it easy for viewers to click the advert and be brought to where they can directly download the app.

Video ads

Often played before, during and after Youtube videos, or in the Google Display Network, video content is increasing in popularity online and is an excellent form of campaign marketing materials for capturing audiences attention.

Understanding the difference between these Advertisement specifications and choosing where best you would like your adverts to focus is an important decision to make. Consider your needs, aspirations and the audience you hope to reach and choose your advertisement strategically. If you feel you may need some help to determine the best strategy to meet your needs and requirements, contact fresh online here for a commitment-free conversation about how we can help you.

What other factors does Google Ads take into account?

Search Intent

Search intent is a clarifying factor for Google. If the search term queried is transactional in its wording, this means that the search query expresses an intent to purchase a product or service. This helps the algorithm to define if your advertisement is the most relevant result to display alongside the SERPs (search engine results pages) or within another video, article or website.


Google does not necessarily dedicate space entirely for one individual ad. It may show a series of ads in succession, and to decide what order and whether your ad is the most appropriate ad to display, Google processes the ad options in Ad Auction. Ad Auction does not work like an auction in the sense that it is not swayed by financial incentive. It calculates the ad rank and position in the order of advertisements it will display by determining the quality of your ad content, and landing page, as well as its relevance to the search query and keywords used within the query. Because this process is based on your relevance and quality rather than the size of your organisation, you can rank highly in Ad Auction regardless of how new or small your company is at present.

Device Type

If a person searches a query on their mobile phone or tablet device, the advertisements that will show are ads and websites which are optimised for this particular device type. The same goes for computer searches; if your ad is focused on mobile or tablet devices, it is less likely to appear for a search query on a computer as it is less suited to this type of device.

Ad Rotation

If you have multiple active Ads running at the same time, Google has to determine which ad would be best to show, either in a Rotate or Optimize setting. Rotate setting means that your active ads are presented on an equal basis across Ad Auctions, whereas Optimize setting means that Google can decide which Ad is best suited for winning a high rank in the Ad Auction.

Which is the best option?

Ideally, the best strategy would be to use both. By taking a structured process to utilising both advertising platforms, you can take a more holistic approach, capturing audiences who are actively searching for something relevant to your advertisement as well as audiences who have expressed interest in topics, products and activities similar to the contents of your ad campaign. You can tell Facebook to market to people who look a certain way, meet specific personal criteria or have previously identified with related personal interests, while your Google Ads focus on previous or current active search queries.

Google’s system is a more direct approach as users will have actively sort out something related to your ad, but Facebook’s method of placing your ad in front of a range of people it believes may potentially take an interest is just as beneficial.

If you have to choose between them, neither is better than the other per se. The difference between how they target users can define whether you feel one would meet your objectives better than the other.