Investing in Google vs. Facebook Ads

Split Testing Vector Concept Modern Illustration. Ab Comparison

There are nine million businesses advertising on Facebook [source]. There are millions of businesses advertising on Google as advertising drives the majority of revenue for their parent company, Alphabet. [source]

Google and Facebook are powerhouse advertising outlets that can help businesses of all types drive more business through paid ads. Yet many companies have a hard time determining ad spend allocation between Google Ads and Facebook Ads. 

The goal of this article is to help you better understand both channels so you can make a better informed decision whether more advertising spend should be spent towards Google or Facebook. 

This article on Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads is broken down into six sections: 

  • Intent 
  • Google PPC 
  • Google Shopping 
  • Facebook 
  • Importance of Diversification 
  • Testing and Measuring ROI 
  • Next Steps

Understanding Intent

When a new client starts working with our agency, intent is what I like to focus on first. According to Yext, marketing intent is marketing to individuals whose behavior dictates that they are more likely to take a certain action or make a certain purchase. 

In simple terms, I’m trying to make a decision whether Google or Facebook can drive a lower cost per acquisition.

If you are selling T-Shirts, are you going to have a greater likelihood of generating new business on Facebook or Google? What about a local dentist? Or an eCommerce client selling skincare products?

Let’s dive into the importance of intent so you can better understand how this helps determine ad spend allocation.

Intent of Google PPC 

When someone is conducting a search on Google, there’s often great intent. This is what makes Google such a beast of a company, it’s keyword driven (for PPC ads). Businesses only have to pay if someone clicks on their advertisement. 

If someone is searching for “Charleston, West Virginia Dentist” there’s a strong likelihood they are looking for a dentist, since they typed this into Google. If you have good advertisements and landing page experience, you’ll have a good chance of converting this person conducting the Google search into a customer! 

If you were to advertise on TV, radio or even on Facebook, how do you know if someone needs a dentist? You can try targeting based on certain interests and demographics. The intent of someone typing in “Charleston, West Virginia Dentist” is hard to match, which is why Google performs so well for so many businesses.

It’s important to note that for our clients, the average cost per click on Google is more expensive than Facebook/Instagram. This makes sense considering the intent is higher [more on Facebook intent in the next section]. 

Strong intent is great but it doesn’t mean you’ll convert at profitable levels. It’s important that you structure your campaigns properly plus analyze your search terms while adding negative keywords. Strong PPC management is what differentiates profitable versus non profitable Google Ad campaigns in many instances. 

What About Google Shopping? 

I mentioned that Google PPC has a more expensive cost per click for our clients compared to Facebook. 

Google Shopping (for eCommerce companies) is more comparable to Facebook Ads in terms of the average cost per click. With Google Shopping, you’re not bidding on keywords. Google is taking information from your Google Shopping Feed. Since you are not bidding on individual keywords but rather a larger pool of keywords, it’s a cheaper cost per click. 

There is still strong intent with Google Shopping since your search is keyword driven. Google is smart enough to serve products from your shopping feed that align with the search. 

Actual Example with Key Data Points 

Our agency has an in-house eCommerce brand, DermWarehouse. On this site, we sell skincare products from other brands as we’re a reseller. 

80% of our revenue from paid ads comes from Google PPC and Google Shopping. Facebook/Instagram drives around 20% of sales. We invest more heavily in Google and even Bing for that matter versus Facebook because Google converts at more profitable levels.

The reason Google performs so well for DermWarehouse is because of intent. People know the brands they are looking for, such as “ClarityRX Sleep It Off Mask.” There is strong intent which leads to a strong ROI.

Whereas on Facebook, we are trying to find people in the market for skincare products. It’s harder to do this based on what we’re selling, hence the reason for the lower return on ad spend (outside of retargeting).

Just because DermWarehouse doesn’t perform as well on Facebook versus Google doesn’t mean this will be the case for your business.

Intent of Facebook/Instagram

Could a dentist convert at a lower acquisition price on Facebook/Instagram versus Google?  Yes. There’s a lower cost per click on Facebook versus Google so if you have a great advertisement, you can drive more conversions at a lower price point. This is why we always recommend running ads on numerous channels to determine the top performers. 

The eCommerce marketing division of our agency helped an eCommerce company selling custom t-shirts scale from $0-$5 million all thanks to Facebook and Instagram ads (along with email marketing) [read success story].

A trick I always like to do when trying to determine the intent of Facebook vs. Google is typing in the product into Google. When you have trouble coming up with a search query on Google, the intent is likely better on Facebook.

For example, this t-shirt company had a popular Volkswagen bug cartoon t-shirt. This performed really well when targeting this towards people who had an interest in VW. Yet most people wouldn’t think to search for this sort of shirt on Google.

This is why Facebook’s such a beast. It helps brands introduce their products to the masses. 

Importance of Diversification

Every business should be diversified amongst channels. If you are dominating Google, set-up PPC on Bing. Run retargeting on Facebook and Twitter to convert prospects into customers.

There’s no client we work with where we put all of our eggs in one basket. We’re always trying to diversify since you never know how an algorithm can negatively or positively impact you.

While we have a strong inclination on intent and which channels will perform the best, we always recommend running tests to confirm the inclination.

Measuring ROI 

How exactly do you determine what channel is performing the best?

For starters, you need to properly set-up goals and conversions within Google Analytics. You must properly pixel your site for Facebook and Google so you can measure success on each of those channels. Ultimately, you are looking to see based on your ad spend, what drives the most leads and sales. 

We’re constantly asked how much money you need to invest in a channel to determine success. I recommend starting with a minimum of $300 per channel to get an initial gauge. There’s a strong likelihood this won’t paint a clear picture but it will provide you with preliminary information. 

Next Steps

It’s time to be thinking more about the intent of how a customer will discover your business and which channel (Facebook or Google) will provide the best return on ad spend.

It’s important to have the proper foundation in-tact when running these ads. If your ad copy and creative is weak and your targeting is subpar, it’s not a true test.

Once you have the proper foundation, run tests on both Facebook and Google to determine what’s driving the most leads and sales for your business.

When you find the top performing channel that’s converting at profitable levels, that’s when things get exciting. You can double down and start to scale!  

Jason Parks

Jason Parks started The Media Captain in 2010. He’s grown TMC into one of the largest digital agency’s in Ohio over the past decade.The Media Captain has worked with hundreds of small, medium and enterprise clients on digital marketing and development projects.The Columbus Based Digital Marketing Agency has received numerous accolades. TMC was named a Top 1% Agency in the U.S. by UpCity in 2019 and 2020. They also won the “Best PPC Campaign,” which was a national award from DashThis. They were also the recipient of the Top 10 Social Media Marketing Agencies in Ohio.

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