Facebook/Instagram Ads versus Google Ads — Which is right for your business?


Get your ads out there

Starting a business is hard work. For many business owners, though, it’s the next step that ends up feeling downright overwhelming: finding customers. With limited budgets for advertising, it can be difficult to figure out which of the advertising heavy hitters to start with, Facebook and Instagram versus Google Ads.

It’s important to note here that both platforms have benefits that complement each other, so it’s a wise idea to consider both platforms when advertising a business. However, it’s understandable that newer business owners may be more hesitant to spend heavily on advertising right away and thus would need to choose one over the other initially.

In this guide, we’ll discuss important steps to take before starting an ad campaign, which businesses benefit most from a particular advertising provider and best practices for Facebook and Instagram Ads versus Google Ads.

Want a quick rundown of the businesses and considerations we’ll be discussing in this article? Here’s a handy table for reference as you read through:

Facebook and Instagram versus Google Ads by business and marketing targets

Ready? Let’s go.

4 steps to take before beginning to advertise

Before you start an ad campaign, there are several steps you’ll want to complete regardless of the advertising platform you choose.

1. Set up an online presence

First, you’ll need to make sure that your business is online, with both a website and social media accounts. Attracting potential customers and having nowhere to direct them to would be disastrous. Avoid the awkwardness and get your business online first.

Editor’s note: Need to create a beautiful business site fast? GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing will help you get your business online in no time at all.

If you’re not sure how to get started, these guides will help you out:

2. Optimize your website

Now that you’ve got your business website online, you’ll need to consider website optimization. Driving traffic to your website is only one part of the process. Your website should help to close the sale for your new customers.
Focus on ensuring that you’re including keywords for your business, make sure that you have a clearly stated call-to-action (CTA) and optimize your site so that it’s easy to use and loads quickly.

Related: 10 simple small business SEO tactics that you can do in-house

3. Focus on mobile

In the United States, the average time spent on a smartphone for non-voice activities is 263 minutes (about 4 and a half hours) per day. That is huge! While social media sites are already mobile-friendly, it’s extremely important that your website is ready for mobile users as well.

You’ll want to ensure that your content is consumable via a mobile browser and that your site loads as quickly as possible to keep users looking at your website.

4. Carefully consider your audience

Once you’ve got your social media profiles and website up and running, it’s time to think about the customers you’re trying to attract and how your business fits into specific media types. Facebook/Instagram are primarily visual communication mediums, so social media advertising tends to favor businesses with appealing aesthetics.

Google Ads, on the other hand, are heavily text-based. Ask yourself which advertising type, images/videos or text, would best fit your business and the audience you want to attract.

Facebook and Instagram Ads versus Google Ads

As your business grows, it would certainly be helpful to use both advertising platforms to continue future growth. With that in mind, let’s discuss the strengths of each advertising platform below.

Why should you consider Facebook and Instagram Ads?

oman using laptop to browse Facebook

With 2.93 billion monthly active users as of the first quarter of 2022, Facebook and Instagram boast an enormous audience. So, to ensure that paid social media ads are seen by relevant audiences, these Meta social media platforms offer robust granularity to allow businesses to target their ideal customers.

Users on social media tend to share their most important life events, from their relationship status to favorite vacation spots and important milestones (graduations, children, weddings, etc). This content allows Facebook and Instagram to categorize users into detailed audience types and serve ads that fit their interests.

Additionally, with Facebook and Instagram being highly visually-based platforms, it’s often easier to immediately catch a user’s eye. Ads on these Meta platforms blend in with other posts in a user’s feed, so while images can be effective advertisements, you may want to consider a GIF or short video to really stand out.

Given the granular, visual nature of Facebook and Instagram advertising, a few examples of businesses that thrive on social media are:

  • Clothing companies
  • Beauty and skincare
  • Food and beverage (for example, restaurants that have strong visual aesthetics and online community)
  • Technology providers (hardware, software and services)
  • Home goods

Benefits of Facebook and Instagram Ads

Social media is a fantastic method for retargeting potential customers, with a 20% higher retargeting conversion rate vs search engine advertising. It’s also much easier to grab attention quickly, as Facebook and Instagram are heavily image-based.

Additionally, the granularity and audience insights available are second-to-none. Is your product aimed at a younger audience, for example? Facebook and Instagram advertising makes it easy to reach those groups.

Another benefit of social media advertising is that your ads are not dependent on search terms. The ads that you choose to run will display for the intended audience without requiring the user to search for anything.

And finally, the return on investment (ROI) on social media tends to outpace the ROI of other more traditional marketing methods, due to the granularity offered by Facebook and Instagram ad targeting.

Tips for advertising on Facebook and Instagram

Ready to give Facebook and Instagram advertising a try?

Here are a few recommendations on how to be as successful as possible:

  1. Brands have 1-2 seconds to grab attention. Therefore, branding and product benefits (emotional or functional) must be clear from the start.
  2. Avoid using static content for ads. Gifs or video ads tend to grab interest more readily than images alone.
  3. Advertising the same product repeatedly without any refresh is not well-received by customers. Keep your content creative and fresh.
  4. Ads that are more informal video creative tend to perform the best (versus heavily-scripted ads).
  5. Have a solid call to action (CTA) that leads to your website or ecommerce shop.
  6. Keep video ads short, around 15-30 seconds.

Why should you consider Google Ads?

Laptop showing Google search screen

Google is often the first name given when considering online advertisement platforms.

Launched in October 2000, Google’s experience and tenure in the online advertising space is a powerful force to be reckoned with. And, with over 8.5 billion daily searches, Google is in the unique position of being able to serve ads to an audience that is actively searching for information, products and services.

Leveraging their ongoing machine learning tool, RankBrain, Google is constantly learning and figuring out which search results are most useful. This means that ads served through Google’s search network are tailored specifically for audiences most likely to find that advertisement useful.

Businesses that may find Google Ads helpful include:

  • Service-based businesses (salons, landscapers, home renovation, etc.)
  • Local businesses wanting to appear on “near me” searches (restaurants, hotels, etc.)
  • Ecommerce companies
  • Dropshipping providers

Benefits of Google Ads

While social media certainly has a large audience segment, Google is the most widely used search engine in the world, accounting for a 92% of the market share for all devices. That’s massive.

Because of this massive market share, Google Ads typically offers better lead generation versus social media advertising on its own. With over 100k searches per second, it’s easy to see how Google can get more eyes on your ads.

Additionally, with how the Google advertising network displays, Google ads are highly-targeted towards the location of the person searching.

Tips for advertising on Google Ads

  1. Target long-tail keywords when choosing keywords to help your ads better target the desired customers.
  2. Use local targeting options if your business or services are only offered regionally.
  3. Optimize your website’s landing page to have a strong and clear CTA to entice customers to buy.
  4. Plan out a clear business goal for your ads. Google Ads are concise, so you’ll need to plan your ad content around a clear objective.
  5. Write an engaging description that corresponds with the content on your landing page. Customers expect to learn more when clicking on an ad, so don’t leave them hanging.

Which platform is right for you?

Each advertising platform has its strengths, so the one you choose to start with will be up to your business’ unique needs. When comparing Facebook and Instagram Ads versus Google Ads, the ways in which the two platforms have grown in distinctive directions can offer clear benefits to all types of businesses. And, as your business continues to grow, these distinctive differences can be used together in order to maximize your business’ potential.



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