Published: 19 April 2016

Recently I wrote a blog explaining things you need to know when looking at Facebook Advertising, after noticing a massive surge of clients wanting to try out Facebook Ads. Clients who have primarily for years just been Google AdWords clients - this got me thinking, which is better?

Founded in 1998, Google started serving just ten thousand search queries a day, a year after being launched this escalated to 3.5 million searches daily. Then by 2006, the ten thousand search queries Google first served daily in 1998 increased to the amount of searches Google served in a single second.

Today, Google see’s 40,000 searches every second (on average), 3.5 billion per day and 1.2 trillion per year, worldwide. With 16% to 20% of queries on Google having never been searched for before.

Two years on from the launch of Google as a search engine, they introduced Google AdWords, in 2000. Launching first with 350 customers. Five years later, in November 2005, Google then released Google Analytics.

Today (well in 2014), there were over 1.2 million advertisers on Google Search Network, and over 1 million advertisers on Google Display Network.

Google AdWords


  • Large potential audience
  • Immediate influx in traffic
  • Easy to manage a daily budget and maximum cost per click
  • Remarketing
  • Customer Email list
  • ‘Similar to’ audiences
  • Different advertising options available, Display Advertising, Search Network, Shopping Campaigns and more
  • A range of targeting options available, location, age, gender and more
  • Dependent on industry a low cost per click could be possible.


  • If set up and/or managed incorrectly can end up being very costly
  • Time consuming to manage and set up
  • Cannot include images, unless running Display Campaign
  • Limited character spacing for ad copy
  • Easy to bring in irrelevant traffic with the wrong keywords and keyword match types



February 4th 2004 was the day Mark Zuckerburg, Dustin Moskovitz, Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum and Chris Hughes founded Facebook. Initially the site known as ‘TheFacebook’ was only accessible by Harvard Students. This later expanded to other colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League and then gradually rolled out to most universities in Canada and the United States.

In 2005, they decided to drop ‘The’ from the name and purchased the domain ‘’ for $200,000. Following this, in September 2006 the site became available to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid email address.

Today Facebook see’s 1.591 billion monthly active users and 1.038 billion daily active users. With 1 million links, being shared EVERY 20 minutes and an average time spent on site by the user being 18 minutes.

Coming to Facebook Advertising, this was a much more complicated process compared to Google AdWords. Facebook started off creating revenue with ‘Flyers’, which later escalated to ‘Flyers Pro’ this allowed advertisers to set a maximum spend and gave them the ability to target based on gender, age, location, political views, relationship status, education and/or workplace.

In 2008, businesses were able to create a free page; and in 2009 further targeting options became available, language and geographical. This was also the first time page owners could set up and manage their own ads.

Following this, in 2011 sponsored stories for desktop were introduced, and then in 2012 mobile ads. Within the same year, Facebook introduced The Facebook Exchange, this gave advertisers and agencies the ability to use cookie based targeting to reach their audience on Facebook with more timely and relevant messages.

Finally, a year later in 2013 Facebook introduced lookalike audiences.

Facebook Ads


  • Very broad range of targeting options available
  • Immediate influx in traffic
  • You can use images and videos within ads
  • CPC’s are known to be relatively cheap
  • Remarketing
  • Custom and Lookalike audiences
  • Range of different campaign options include ‘increase website conversions’ or ‘page like campaign’.


  • Potential to be costly, but less so than Google AdWords
  • Could end up targeting irrelevant people quite easily, if campaign not planned properly
  • Difficult to use for B2B, only suitable, really, for B2C
  • A minimum daily spend has been put in place, dependant on the campaign/ account.


After much research (all of the above), I then asked myself - can we really compare Facebook and Google though? Seems pointless saying this now, but. The key difference for advertisers to understand between both lies in the purpose behind why they are advertising. Are you trying to promote knowledge of your brand or trying to sell a specific product or service?

Users on Facebook and users going to Google have completely different intents. Google searchers are there specifically searching for something, whereas Facebook users are shown ads based upon interests & other targeting criteria.

Therefore, the goal on Google is to show an ad that matches exactly what that person is searching for, to help push conversions.

Facebook however, you are advertising (most likely, unless remarketing), to users who do not know who you are and to users who are not searching for your product or service. They are just busy watching cat videos and happen to stumble across your ad. This makes Facebook the ideal platform for brand awareness.

If people do not know you exist, they cannot be interested in what you have to offer.  

Thus making a comparison between the both a little difficult.

To conclude, the better platform will depend on what your advertising aims are. Brand awareness? Facebook. Conversions? Google AdWords. These are just two suggestions and of course, not the only two reasons to use either.


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