Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords: Which Is Better for Your Business?

Do changes to Facebook's News Feed algorithm make Google AdWords a more viable advertising spend?

Facebook’s numerous changes to its algorithm have many marketers scratching their heads. With the social network changing the content users see every few months, every business is scrambling to keep up.

Before we talk about paid ads, let’s talk about native reach.

Facebook’s stated goal is to please users by showing them what they most want to see. In a June Newsroom post, engineer Lars Backstrom made it pretty clear that Facebook is aware the changes will disrupt businesses. He wrote:

Overall, we anticipate that this update may cause reach and referral traffic to decline for some pages.

That’s basically saying, “Sorry, but this is going to cause a 42 percent drop in reach.” If that doesn’t make your heart stop, you’re probably not a marketer.

Beckstrom went on to explain that you will lose less traffic if your followers share your content, and their followers like and share. So, you get more reach if you generate more reach—got it.

Just don’t try to generate reach with clickbait, because that’s another thing on the hit list.

To sum it up, every change makes organic (read: free) reach a less viable option. Is it an evil plot to pump up advertising spend? Possibly.

Joe Lazauskus, editor in chief at Contently, theorizes that marketers will respond to Facebook’s big algorithm change with more ad spend, which will, in turn drive up the price of ads:

As publishers stare at their declining reach, Facebook’s dashboard will offer a helpful suggestion: “Pay $100 to reach 18,000 to 24,000 people with this post.” Over time, they’ll probably have to bite the bullet and open their wallets.

Do Facebook’s changes make Google AdWords a more viable advertising spend?

To answer that question, we probably need to look at the differences between Facebook ads and Paid Google Search (PPC):

Pinpoint targeting: With Facebook ads, you can get extremely specific about the people who see your ads, unlike Google PPC, which based on keywords. A narrowly targeted audience ultimately translates to lower cost per click. Facebook wins this one.

Timing: On Google, your ad is search-related, which means that your potential customer is searching for something specific he or she is ready to buy right now. Few people are on Facebook searching for products, so this point goes to Google. On the other hand, Facebook plants a seed that might bear fruit in the future.

Local business: Again, advantage Google. If people are looking for somewhere to have dinner or searching for the nearest gas station, chances are they are already in the car on a mobile phone. In 2015, mobile search surpassed desktop searches.

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Engagement: Facebook wins this point nearly hands-down. While Google generally offers user ratings, on Facebook, brands can interact—answer questions, offer additional information and overcome anticipated objections. There’s not much dissent that brand engagement drives sales and encourages customer loyalty.

Ad quality: Facebook wins here, as well. On Google, your ads can’t get much fancier than “bold.” If you really want to go crazy, you can post in ALL CAPS (please don’t). On Facebook, though, you can post graphics, a whole carousel of beautiful photos or a video.

So what’s the answer?

Well, the definitive answer depends on your business, what you’re selling and the nature of your audience. If you’re offering something with a lot of visual appeal to a well-defined audience, Facebook is a good fit. For local businesses that want to stand out from the competition and grab consumers while they are shopping, Google might be your best bet.

Ad-spend wisely, and always track your results.

Sherry Gray is a freelance content writer from Key West, Fla., currently suffering in the suburbs of Orlando. She is a science geek, a social media junkie and an unapologetic fan of all things bacon. Follow her on Twitter: @SheriSaid.

Featured image courtesy of Adobe Stock.