AdWords or Facebook: That’s the Question!

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There has been a great deal of discussion lately about whether AdWords or Facebook Ads are more effective. The reality is, each has its place depending upon your vertical, audience, and purpose. Lets take a look at the differences and how they work so you can decide which will work best for your approach.


While both advertising platforms have the ability to help companies build their brand, their approaches are completely different.

With Facebook, the process takes a little longer. Most customers are not going to click on an ad or sponsored story the first time they see it. Over the course of several interactions a customer is able to see what that brand is about before clicking through to their website or Facebook page. This builds a level of comfort and relieves some of the pressure on landing pages and websites.

With AdWords, the website will likely be the first interaction users have with the business. This initial interaction with the brand will decide if the visitor chooses the company or looks elsewhere. For that reason, a great initial experience is vital. Brands have just a few seconds to demonstrate why the visitor should choose them.

Long-term & Short-term Demand

Demand duration is the most significant difference between AdWords and Facebook marketing.

AdWords is a fantastic platform for short-term achievement. Marketers spend a lot of cash researching keywords in the research stage of the purchasing funnel. That can add up quickly, but you tend to get a faster return on your investment.

Facebook, on the other hand, is designed to build brand awareness slowly. The likelihood of someone searching for a specific product is thin. But after seeing the ad a few times, the target market may get familiar with the brand, which can lead to sales. Facebook can still leverage the demand fulfillment side, but its chief advantage is getting customers into the feed to be given habitual updates.

Some more difference between Facebook ads and Google Adwords

  • Google Ads on the search results page are contextual while Facebook Ads are targeted according to demographics.
  • Google Ads on the search page are CPC and text based while Facebook ads can be either CPC or CPM and you can include an image with the ad body.
  • Facebook offers targeted display ads but you are reaching an audience you have to motivate to stop what they are doing and click. Google Ads (on the search side) are shown to searchers who are farther along the purchase process. They have intent to act upon their search.
  • Facebook ads are great for driving awareness to a targeted group, sort of like a mini-billboard.
  • Facebook makes it easier to maintain a continuous relationship with the user thorough social media updates. With Google you end up taking the user outside the Google network and thus the focus tends to be more transactional.
  • Facebook Ads are more like Google AdWords Display Advertising. They can be effective shouldn’t be confused with search. I would view them as complementary.

Most of the time choosing between Adwords or Facebook is not an either/or decision but something that you need to test to find out what works for your business. Remember, continuous testing is the secret of any successful marketing campaign!

Rocco Baldassarre
Rocco Baldassarre is a digital marketing consultant and entrepreneur. He is best known for being the founder of the award winning digital marketing agency Zebra Advertisement and being the youngest Google Partners All-Stars Winner at the age of 24. Clients include Bing Ads and he has been featured by The Huffington Post, The New York Times, and oDesk's Annual Impact Report among other publications.
Rocco Baldassarre
Rocco Baldassarre
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  • Kushal Azza

    If we have a technology blog, than what should we prefer ? Facebook Ads or Google AdWords? I tried Facebook Ads, but was not able to gain much followers in my niche site.

  • Rick Noel

    @Kushal, for obtaining Facebook likes, maybe a creative contest on your Facebook page would provide more traction given your goal of building audience than either Facebook Ads or Google AdWords alone.

    Facebook posts can be promoted which can give your contest broader reach/participation/engagement now that Facebook no longer requires contests to be run within Facebook Aps.

    A Facebook Like Box on your tech blog would also help build audience organically.

    In general, we find that Facebook ads are great for building brand and awareness. Google AdWords is better for direct marketing/conversions. You need both to build a sales funnel, even for B2C where purchases are much more transnational with shorter, simpler conversion paths than more complex B2B sales.

  • John

    Thank you i was confused and i didn’t know what to choose

  • Norm

    You do make this distinction, but I would like to further it. The two in my mind are not comparable. It’s not an either/or proposition. They are each completely different forms of marketing. The major difference is Google Adwords is inbound marketing and Facebook is closer to outbound marketing.

    A better comparison would be Facebook or Google Adwords on the Display Network. That would be a much better question to ask.

  • Adegboye

    I think market research and audience awareness are key. I do more facebook ad because that is where a lof my audience are.

  • James Smith

    If we have a SEO innovation weblog, than what should we choose ? Facebook or myspace Ads or Search engines AdWords? I tried Facebook or myspace Ads, but was not able to obtain much supporters in my market website.

    • Rocco Baldassarre

      Hi James,

      Did you try Bing ads? It is cheaper and might give you the targeted traffic you are looking for.

      All the best,