Facebook Ads vs Google Adwords – the Facebook Targeting Advantage

by Chawki Trabelsi

Last updated on February 14th, 2018

Facebook and Google are the two biggest internet giants, and each has its own advertising model. Which is best? The answer may surprise you.

Many companies wonder whether they should use Google Adwords or Facebook Ads. As you will read in this article, we believe Facebook targeting holds certain advantages.

At first glance, they look pretty similar:

PPC advertising can be cheap if you know the tips and techniques for using it. With Google Adwords you can have highly-targeted, low cost, high conversion campaigns.

You have the same opportunity with Facebook ads. For example, you can get 1,000 Facebook fans for your page only for $20 , or you can build your list driving traffic from Facebook ads and increase revenue.

But there are key differences you need to know about. Let’s take a closer look at the two systems.

Facebook advertise

Source: Placeit.net

1) Two different targeting systems

On Facebook, you can choose the audience for your ads by using filters, which allow you to target your audience in three ways: by interests, demography and geography. So your ads reach the right audience and will be seen only by users you have profiled.

facebook ads

Google Adwords, on the other hand, may trigger ads based on user preferences, but Google doesn’t know people like Facebook does. It can’t see what users “Like” or follow, nor can it see data from their personal profile. Relevant ads are triggered primarily by search terms. So when a term like “business courses” is typed into Google, you see ads ads related to… business courses.

Business Courses Google

On the Display Network, ads are shown on pages with related content. Google understands what the page is about and matches ads accordingly. As with Adwords, you have to bid on keywords, and you have no control over who is going to see your ad. Furthermore, as you can see in this example, the ad might not be an exact match to the website.

Google display network ad

2) Facebook Ads vs. AdWords Ads

The Facebook ads creation process is different from AdWords. You target people’s interests rather than their search phrases. You’re targeting people based more on who they are than the information they’re looking for right now.

facebook vs adwords

As you can see from this graph, Facebook tends to show ads based on a user’s likes, while Adwords focuses on keywords. The demographic data on users may also be more complete, so targetting can be easier on Facebook.

But the thing that stands out most is the average cost: Facebook ads, on average, are a third of the cost of Google Adwords.

3) Brand Building

While both advertising platforms offer the ability for companies to build brand equity, they do it in completely different ways.

With AdWords, a click takes you to a company’s landing page, where branding, design and sales copy send a strong signal to the user. If there are tons of ads and hyped headlines, they may question the trustworthiness of the company and immediately click off the site. Google takes note of this, and may lower the rank of the website if too many people bounce quickly.

Google adwords example

Facebook advertising allows for leveraging of word-of-mouth and social proof, which are powerful tools in advertising. When people see that a friend already likes a product, trust barriers can be broken down much more quickly than with advertising alone.

Welcome to our world

With Facebook ads, users see the ads on a regular basis. So, over the course of several interactions, they get to see what that brand is about before deciding to click through to their website or Facebook page. This builds a level of comfort and relieves some of the pressure for landing pages and websites to immediately perform.

New facebook ads

4) Demographic and Keyword Targeting

Google AdWords and other services allow for demographic and keyword targeting. But with Facebook, you can target keywords and demographic locations with far more precision.

How? User profiles include their location. When you use geo-targeting, your ads only appear to people whose profiles contain your targeted location and/or location.

Facebook vs google 3

Google AdWords doesn’t know as much about your users’ locations or what keywords they are most interested in. They only know what the user is searching for right now. As a result, the probability of your ads reaching the right audience is much lower.

That said, Facebook advertising often has higher clickthrough rates and conversions than Google Adwords.

5) Which one works best?


That’s a personal decision. But here’s what one PPC user experienced when he used both Google Adwords and Facebook ads to promote his own product:

When we launched our product globally we decided to run campaigns on both Google and Facebook. I put equal amount of money on Google Adwords and Facebook for CPC campaigns.

Our product, Shufflr, requires users to download the app and then register.

Overall CPC campaigns on Facebook were more effective and gave a better ROI than Google. There are probably a couple of reasons for that:

On Facebook I could target users by their place of work. For Shufflr we targeted users from technology companies like Google, Amazon, Oracle, Cisco, etc. Probably these users understood the value proposition of Shufflr much better, which led to more registrations.

Shufflr requires users to download Adobe Air. With Facebook I could target users who had shown “interest” in Tweetdeck, which meant they probably already had Adobe Air installed.

We have a Shufflr page on Facebook, which had approx 850 fans. With Facebook I could target friends of people who were already fans of Shufflr. When the friends of people who are already fans of Shufflr page see the ad it shows them below the ad “X likes Shufflr”. This probably lead to better click-thru rate.

The combination of Facebook page “Like” button and the Facebook CPC campaigns delivers better targeting and hence improved CTR’s. So using real-time data on consumers clicking on the “Like” button on the CTR’s for campaigns, Facebook does a much superior job of optimization than Google.

It’s important to keep in mind that Facebook is changing. With new algorithm updates, it’s harder to get the same reach that was available in the past. But if you’re willing to invest by buying ads and/or promoting posts, you may still be able to get noticed by your best customers.

6) Don’t overpay for Facebook ads

Designing your Facebook ad isn’t easy if you want it to be effective. Determining your ad budget and CPM or CPC is as important as the design of your ad. But if you do it right, you can achieve good results with a small budget.

When creating Facebook ads, here are your bidding options:

Cost Per Click (CPC): The maximum you’ll pay per click on your ads. Since distribution is based on an auction format, the amount you ultimately pay for each click will depend on the competition.

Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (CPM): The maximum you’ll pay per 1,000 impressions of your ads. Once again, the amount you pay will depend on competition for the same audience and placement.

Optimized Cost Per 1,000 Impressions (OCPM): Facebook optimizes your ad by showing it to the people most likely to perform your desired action (within your target). Additionally, bidding is automated. Your bid will change dynamically based on competition, assuring that you’ll reach your desired audience.

How to set up the cost per click (CPC) in facebook ads

Some people say that CPC is a low risk because marketers only have to pay for performance, so they have some level of confidence in their return on investment.

This is how to choose the advanced options:

1-Click on the star  at the bottom.

2-Click “Advanced Options.”

Facebook ads 3

Then click on “Bid for clicks” and “Manually set your maximum bid for clicks CPC” to test your ads. You can set a $5 daily budget per campaign.

Facebook ads 2

The CPM and OCPM model

A CPM model, used to create multiple impressions, would require very deep pockets to pay for a significant number of impressions or to justify a reasonable ROI. Hundred percent of the risk would be with you.

Jon Loomer in his article, CPM or oCPM When Targeting Facebook Fans With Ads, said that OCPM is better optimized than CPM and he still ended up getting better results. You can read his successful experience with OCPM, with no more than $5 a day.


Google Adwords works best when someone is in research mode. When a person searches for a keyword on Google, the top results will be advertisements related to the person’s search. So you only reach searchers.

However Facebook Ads are about making people talk about your business. It focuses on word-of-mouth marketing. Facebook Ads can not only help you sell, they can also help you build an interactive relationship with your customer.

Which one works best for you: Facebook Ads or Google Adwords? Please let us know in the comments about your experience.



Get updates on new articles, webinars and other opportunities:

Chawki Trabelsi

Chawki Trabelsi is an online marketing strategist and guest blogger writes for hostingreviewslist.com which provides updated information about web hosting companies in the USA. My goal is to help businesses understanding how to use social networks to find leads, increase sales, and improve branding via digital marketing. Follow him on Twitter and Google+


Comment Policy

Please join the conversation! We like long and thoughtful communication.
Abrupt comments and gibberish will not be approved. Please, only use your real name, not your business name or keywords. We rarely allow links in your comment.
Finally, please use your favorite personal social media profile for the website field.


Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  1. Abel Udoekene says:
    October 6, 2017 at 10:29 am

    Excellent post Chawki, my only concern is that Facebook has so many bot account which is really not good for building engagement.

  2. Matheus says:
    February 21, 2017 at 2:30 pm

    And also, maybe you got based too much on Google Search Network and didn’t consider Display Network properly, which imo works much alike FaceAds.

  3. Matheus says:
    February 21, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    Hello friend,

    First thing I want to say is thank you for this post.

    I actually disagree with most of what is written, but I respect it.
    In my expertise, Google AdWords segmentation option’s worked best. I find the lack of detailed information in Facebook’s reports disturbing and doesn’t help much in optimization decisions.. I think AdWords is much more transparent about your campaign’s performance.

    I hope you like my feedback.

    Best regards,
    Matheus Conrado
    Digital Marketing Strategist from Brazil

  4. David Cornish says:
    July 19, 2016 at 12:42 am

    I think Google AdWords is best one for your huge audience after that you can go for Facebook Campaigns is best way to promote your business.

  5. Anonymous says:
    June 1, 2016 at 2:52 am

    Google and Facebook both are good and giving nice results
    But if you want selling any product then Facebook is Great
    Facebook Gives best CTR and high conversion (as my experience) with FB page likes that’s work long life for you.

  6. chawki trabelsi says:
    September 28, 2015 at 5:44 am

    Thank you Graham have a good luck!

  7. Graham says:
    September 19, 2015 at 2:26 am

    I recently started advertising on Bucksme.com. Great little discount ad platform and one that offers advertisers a fixed rate PPC. Yep! no more bidding which effectively benefits no one except the ad network.

  8. Leonardo Zanette says:
    July 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    Excelent article, very easy to understand the differences between the two plataforms. Thanks for sharing!

    And for remarketing, what is the best?

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      July 16, 2015 at 10:07 am

      Thank you Leonardo for your comment remarketing generally helps to boost conversion rate showing ad to people who are genuinely interested in your product but haven’t purchased yet. Which is the best?
      I think facebook remarketing is better because google ad can only build up campaigns based on the categories of the websites compared to facebook ad that track users based on their interest, demographic detail, activity logs etc..

  9. William says:
    June 27, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I use both Google and facebook. For me it is always giving better results with Google adwords and always cheaper on long term.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      June 27, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Good to know. Thanks for sharing what’s working for you.

  10. Yakubu Binuyaminu says:
    June 18, 2015 at 7:44 am

    I must say more greese to your elbow Mr. To me if i where to choose between the two ad platforms i will literally vote for Google reason is that 1, its cheap 2, you have probablities that all people your ad is reaching searched on google for solutions to their problems great sales will be made. I bloggers case unlike news sites i think facebook is the best good for your fans your post reach them at when due..,.

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      June 18, 2015 at 11:08 am

      Google Ads isn’t cheap you can see the table comparison in the second paragraph the Avg cost of a CPC is $2.5 but google ads can be better for you only if you are good at keywords.

  11. Mike says:
    May 26, 2015 at 3:25 am

    The problem with Facebook ads is, if you are using it to build your fan page and THEY decide to pull the plug on your page or worst, account, then all of your work and money spent goes down the drain. You don’t own anything. They control the show !
    Of course, their mind is not set into a buying mode either. You have to use retargeting for best results.

    As for Adwords, THEY COST A FORTUNE !

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 26, 2015 at 9:50 am

      There’s no easy button, that’s for sure. Right now, FB ads are one of your best options, but I’m also looking at LinkedIn and Twitter advertising. It mostly depends on where your audience is.

  12. Zara Imrie says:
    April 8, 2015 at 4:33 pm

    great tips thanks for sharing…Could you please explain how we can improve our Quality Scores.

  13. Ella Iqué says:
    March 16, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Hi there,

    I have a quick question. If I go for CPA solution, I would need to pay the “conversion value”.

    But why does Facebook ask me for “a budget” and “then” tells me about the cost per click?

    Thanks for your help!


    • chawki trabelsi says:
      March 16, 2015 at 3:04 pm

      Hi Ella setting a daily budget or a lifetime budget help you to limit your ads spending, whether it’s a CPC, CPM or an OCPM bidding option and you decide how much you are going to spend for running your ads. If you set a daily budget your ads will stop showing once the limit is reached. And if you set a lifetime budget once your budget is met the ads will stop showing. You can see the screenshots I made in this article, you can run an ad continously or it would be better to set an ending date for it. I hope I responded to your question.

  14. chawki trabelsi says:
    March 10, 2015 at 11:40 am

    Thanks for the share logan 🙂

  15. logan says:
    March 9, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I think something may have been missed here. You say that facebook has this research on people based on their likes and stuff but you got to remember, many people are signed into their google+ account when on google. So google knows what you’re clicking, searching for, the keywords, your emails, docs, the videos you’re watching, and many other things including the things on Google+ such as who you’re following, liking, sharing, commenting on ect. Google+ is going to gather a lot of information in the near future and it’s going to be great for marketers.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      March 10, 2015 at 10:43 am

      Agreed, Logan. Thanks for the reminder.

  16. Craig says:
    January 13, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    I wanted to comment because the insights about AdWords display targeting seem rather limited. There are many more targeting methods than keywords (as described here), such as placements (example: competitors’ sites) that should be considered. Also, the remarketing possibilities off Facebook are huge, sites such as the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. serve AdSense. I think it would be more helpful not to compare AW and FB but discuss how they can complement each other.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      January 14, 2015 at 8:55 am

      Great insights, Craig. You should pitch me an article. 😉

  17. chawki trabelsi says:
    October 19, 2014 at 7:23 am

    Hello Balazs, thank you for your comment, I really appreciated your website about coding, seo and make money. You write about topics that many people enjoy it. I think you are a famous blogger!

  18. Balazs Hende says:
    October 18, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Thanks Chawki! I’ve just started a campaign on Facebook after reading on your post. I want the word-of-mouth 🙂

  19. Robert Brooks says:
    September 23, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Facebook is much easier but I use both. I have new site with limited budget off $100.00 a month for advertising split 50/50 between google and facebook. You need to make sure you really target facebook ads, especailly location or some kid in malayasia is gonna click bomb your ad, that’s mostly for fan sites though, not clicks to websites. Even with my 3-4 dollar a day budget it still drives a ton of traffic to my site. Both are very inexpensive and highly effective. I think if your website is geared toward a younger crowd facebook would be better than google. Good luck everyone, and may we all be able to retire with our website income one day.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      September 23, 2014 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Robert. Good luck on your website.

  20. farhan javeed says:
    August 16, 2014 at 4:41 am

    i believe that google adwords work better than Facebook ads. Facebook is good for increasing your brandawarness and getting your business’s word out . I highly doubt about the seriousness of “Facebook customers” , becuase primarily people dont come on facebook to look for ads or search for things.

    On the contrary , i think Google adwords work better becuase if i want to buy something or i want to search for some information or anything i will go to google. I guess a company that invests on google adwords has more chances of getting a potential customers becuase people searching for things or products on Google have a “need” to satisfy. Hence, they can be your potential customers.

    • Neil Patel says:
      August 17, 2014 at 3:23 pm

      Farhan, thanks for sharing your feedback. I think everyone has a personal preference for what works best based on their industry.

    • William says:
      June 27, 2015 at 10:10 am


  21. Carolyn Wilman says:
    May 29, 2014 at 8:32 pm

    here is the video Vault NW referred to: Facebook Fraud youtube.com/watch?v=oVfHeWTKjag and it’s true! I will never pay FB for Likes, maybe for ads.

    • neil says:
      May 30, 2014 at 11:42 am

      Carolyn, thanks for the share. Real engagement is always best. You are on the right track 🙂

  22. Akshay Hallur says:
    May 20, 2014 at 1:50 am

    Hey Chawki,
    I will agree with you Google AdWords is undoubtedly the best ad network. Google targets audience cleverly. For example I browsed for some products in Amazon, that day, all the ads that I came across was that particular product. Even it is said that the Google monitors our phone calls and customise ads according to our interests.

    • neil says:
      May 20, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Akshay, great points! Thanks for reading. We look forward to hearing more from you 🙂

    • chawki trabelsi says:
      May 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

      Thank you Akshay for sharing your experience with us.

    • Keren says:
      October 9, 2014 at 11:50 am

      I don’t know yet about conversion, I have a new business and still trying to make it through in a very saturated market (jewelry) but what I do know is that my average CPC with Adwords is around 1$, while on FB it’s about 0.30. My CTR on FB is about 5% for all of my campaigns, AdWords 0.20%.

      Only campaign worth keeping the the re-targeting display campaign, there I have about 3% CTR and my CPC is 0.60.

      Another interesting thing with FB targeting for example, I can choose to only show my ads to people who purchased online a product like the one I offer (in my case it’s very relevant, again. jewelry) in the past. This is just awesome

      Akshay, Google is not monitoring or tracking any phone calls. It’s simple. every time you visit a website, there are files that remain in your browser that tell where you visited, how many times and so on. That’s why you see ads (display) for products you’ve been searching for, or for websites you visited.

      • chawki trabelsi says:
        October 9, 2014 at 3:42 pm

        Thank you Keren for your comment. Eveni if the jewelry market is saturated your CTR with facebook is very much higher than Google Ads. I think people buy jewelry from you because you’ve built the trust with them and with the quality of your product.

  23. Vault NW says:
    May 19, 2014 at 4:04 am

    I watched a YouTube video all about Facebook Ads and how you get scammed from using it. On the video it was showing how most of the traffic Google Ads was bringing a specific country was mainly from one county like India with bad un used profiles. I do not know how true this is though.

    I prefer Google just because I like to keep all my accounts in one place.

    Good post and thanks for sharing it.

    • neil says:
      May 19, 2014 at 9:47 am

      You really have to watch out for those scams, with that being said I think you’re on the right path now 🙂

  24. Nikunj says:
    May 19, 2014 at 12:18 am

    Both ads platforms are essential which depends on nature of yoru business. Although Google is most preferable platform for ads. Facebook is good for products/services for youth.Suppose We are a PPC ads agency (Galore Technology). I never get any single query from facebook PPC. IT products can be sale on Facebook.

    • Kathryn Aragon says:
      May 19, 2014 at 8:02 am

      Great insights, Nikunj. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • neil says:
      May 19, 2014 at 9:48 am

      Nikunj, thanks for the additional points. They were very helpful 🙂

  25. chawki trabelsi says:
    May 18, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Hello Christopher, link farms are websites with the sole purpose of amassing links regardless of quality. They try to game search engines by generating inbound links. It’s a kind of like going to fiverr.com and for 5 bucks asking for 100 facebook “likes” for your company page. It’s artificial… and therefore Google and Bing penalized sites for having these types of links. But those links need to be completely relevant to each other such as in a specialized directories. A Well placed link on a web directory, a source where users actually look for businesses is very different and more valuable.

  26. Christopher Cuna says:
    May 18, 2014 at 6:50 am

    Hello Chawki,

    Awesome post! While I’m not really into FaceBook because of the negative rumors it has. But I love how it should more of a word-of-mouth marketing. What are your thoughts on link farms?

  27. May 16, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Thank you Binh for your comment. Yes facebook is the world of distraction. But you can’t sell your products directly with facebook ads. First of all you have to keep building your fan base with free giveaway and contests and once you hit a few thousand you can promote your products on a weekly base. You can also build an email list driving your fans to your website with optins or a squeeze page, then you send them newsletters writing good content about your product, and after several emails you can send them a link to purchase your product. The advantage of facebook fan page that you have a targeted audience.

  28. Binh says:
    May 16, 2014 at 5:28 am

    I think the Google Ads are better if you are really good at keywords.

    If people are searching for their desparate problems, they are going to buy the products.

    It based on keywords.

    Facebook is like the world of distraction.

    People may have interest, but it is not really consistent.

    If you investigate posts and pictures of person in Facebook, it is easy to see that it is all random stuffs.

    It is hard to make a sale when these people are getting distracted by notifications and things.


    • neil says:
      May 16, 2014 at 10:24 am

      Binh, great point! I think Google ads get down to the nitty gritty of search. While, as you mentioned, Facebook can be quite distracting.

Show Me My Heatmap

I ❤ @CrazyEgg - simple and HUGELY valuable product.

Hrishi Mittal


What makes people leave your website?