Facebook Ads and Google AdWords both offer businesses great opportunities for reaching customers.

We’ve all seen ads in our Facebook feeds and our Google searches, but what’s the difference between them?

Facebook Ads and Google AdWords Compared


First, let’s start with the similarities. Facebook Ads and Google AdWords are both huge networks with massive reach. Facebook’s got over 1.6 billion users, and Google has about 77% of global search volume.

Both networks geographic targeting to match the right person with an advertisement.

Both networks only make money when the advertising they’re selling is engaged with. This pricing system is known as cost-per-click or CPC (hence the term pay-per-click or PPC for paying for these clicks).

This auction structure encourages higher quality ads that resonate with users. Higher quality also means higher competition, increasing the cost of an engagement as more advertisers bid for ad position.


The major difference between Facebook Ads and Google AdWords is user intent. AdWords targets users who demonstrate intent when they type into the Google search box. Facebook has no such intent. Instead, Facebook Ads match with user’s interests.

The difference in intent means that the two networks differ in what kinds of business goals they’re best for. Facebook Ads are great for building brand awareness. Google AdWords is great for putting the product or service you offer in front of the user when she’s looking for it.

Google users are driven. Facebook users are browsing.

Facebook Ads can then serve advertisements to people who might not be searching for your product or service, but that you think might match your customer or client profile. These ads will let these people know that you exist and potentially open up future business opportunities.

Google AdWords users type their searches with purpose.

Ads on AdWords use the person’s search term to create relevant advertisements that the person will likely click on. Where Facebook Ads test the waters for potential interest, Google AdWords ads are highly specific to an interest evident in the user’s search term.

Demographics Galore

However, Facebook Ads equip themselves with the incredible amounts of demographic data that Facebook compiles. This data bank means that Facebook Ads can find users that match your ideal user to a tee. Facebook’s demographic targeting options exceed Google’s.

You can target endless demographics such as age, sex, income, interests, etc. You can also hone in on specific interests by targeting people who like specific pages like targeting “Best Stoves in the World” for a kitchenware store.

The extensive options mean that you can decide the reach of your ads.

Lower CPC with Facebook Ads

Because Google AdWords capitalizes on obvious intent and Facebook Ads sort of guesses it, AdWords costs per click are generally higher. Lower CPCs doesn’t mean everything, and it’s important to keep track of the sales that Facebook is actually generating to determine whether it’s cheaper or more expensive than AdWords.

That being said, Facebook Ads are best used to generate awareness, increasing your audience sizes so that more people may search for you and your Google AdWords ad will be there.

So if you compare your AdWords conversion results, where people are actively looking for your offerings, to Facebook conversion results, where people might not even know you exist, expectations for Facebook Ads might be skewed.

Remember that Facebook Ads are good for getting people onto your site, signing up for your stuff, and learning about your business. A person instantly buying from his Facebook feed is rare indeed.

Going Forward

As we’ve discovered, Facebook Ads and Google AdWords work well together. In fact, some of the most profitable campaigns use the two networks in tandem.

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