Every small business wants to know the best place to put their ads online, and every experienced marketer will tell you that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. We’ve invited our resident PPC (pay-per-click) advertising expert, Juan Jozami, to help us settle the Google vs Meta debate. He outlines some of the strengths and weaknesses of each channel to help you work out which may be right for your business.

Google Ads

pros meta vs google advertising

1) Google is everywhere.

You can place ads on a large number of platforms such as Search, YouTube, Maps, Gmail, Discovery, and Adsense. It’s hard to use the internet without encountering the Google network in some way (even if you’re not aware you are).

This creates a massive opportunity to create dynamic ad formats that can follow your potential customers across the web or only in the parts of the network relevant to your business, such as Search Ads.

2) Robust analytics

Due to its size and ownership of Android and other services, Google can track your web activity and behaviors, significantly increasing the chances of giving you accurate data so you can make informed decisions.

3) The most advanced targeting system

No need to take out your tinfoil hat (but if you do it won’t matter) – the truth is, Google is almost omni-present when it comes to anything web-related. We’ve collectively used Google for decades. The sheer volume of data they’ve gathered in this time, along with the thousands of engineers they’ve employed to make sense of that data puts Google in a unique position to model and predict user behavior.

4) You can gauge intent

This point is so important that it needs to be singled out. Every Google search tells us something about the user’s specific intentions.

For example, “Plumbers near me” means you need to fix something soon, while “Hiking bag” means you’re interested in the product. However, “Green hiking bag 40lt reinforced straps best” means you’re about to make a purchase.

Google follows all these signs in your buyer’s journey and uses them to give you the right ad at the right time.

cons meta vs google advertising

1) The cost

Nowadays, in most industries, it’s hard to make profits in Google Ads if you have a budget under $1000 USD per month. Even if you do have the money, there are no guarantees. Consistent results can take three to six months, and profitability will depend heavily on your business model and margins.

2) You have to play the long game

Be prepared to make Google Ads a recurring business cost, even with a solid budget. It takes time to ramp up a campaign, usually around three months, before you will start getting consistent results. From there, you’ll have to decide if you want to scale up or work on maintaining that performance.

3) Ongoing management is necessary

Sure, you can manage Google Ads yourself as a business owner if you have the time, interest, and willingness to learn. However, as your business grows, it’ll be only a matter of time before you’ll need an experienced person to manage it for you.

4) It lets you run the wrong approach

This point ties into the last, but it’s crucial enough that it deserves its own point. Google Ads allows you to create campaigns with a high degree of flexibility. This is good, but also means that your entire setup could be completely wrong, and Google would still let you run it.

Meta Ads (i.e. Facebook, Instagram)

pros meta vs google advertising

1) It’s highly visual

Facebook and Instagram have, since conception, made their user interfaces media-focused and super engaging. They’re designed to capture the user’s undivided attention, and their ads are too. This means you get a wide range of video and image formats to communicate your message and get people interested.

2) Granular targeting

Meta has unparalleled insight into users’ interests, rivaling Google and other social media platforms. Every interaction with content, such as likes, reactions, comments, and shares, can be used to create highly specific audiences for targeting.

3) You can start small 

You can run a campaign on as little as $1, though it is not recommended if you expect real results. However, if you have a successful social media profile with good products, you can test the waters with a modest $10-$25 per day budget and see what comes from it.

4) It’s easier to use

Basically, Meta provides advertising tools that are pretty intuitive and beginner-friendly, allowing you to boost your content from an easy mobile interface and view the relevant metrics for each promoted post, or from a general analytics dashboard built-in in its apps.

5) You get fast results

Usually, you’ll get a sense of whether your ads are working or not within about 7 to 14 days. This, of course, is highly dependent on your particular budget, offers, and goals, but you’ll be able to find out how your ad is performing quite quickly by looking at its stats and user interactions.

cons meta vs google advertising

1) Limited placements 

While Meta owns Facebook and Instagram, users deliberately have to spend time interacting with these apps to see ads. so if they aren’t, your ads won’t be seen. You could argue that Meta’s app, Audience Network (similar to Google’s Adsense) offers ad placements through the web and other apps, but it is much smaller and regarded as ineffective.

2) Weaker analytics

With the new privacy settings on iOS14, Meta took a massive blow in its ability to attribute results to ads. Unable to track activity and interactions, it took a lot of work to run ads and see reliable metrics data. To this day, it is not back to its previous capabilities and there’s uncertainty as to whether it will be again.

3) Policy hoops

It’s not easy to be the biggest social network on the planet. Human behavior can be very nuanced, and the company, Meta, have made a few controversial business decisions which make them unfavorable in the public eye. So to avoid social disapproval, Meta has come up with some convoluted regulations as to what should/should not be advertised, what language can be used, etc. However, posts are not assessed as being inline with regulations on a case by case basis; they’re monitored mainly by automated systems which are prone to error, meaning they may occasionally ban a perfectly acceptable ad. This wouldn’t be an issue, however their customer support centre are known for being quite difficult to work with

4) The younger gen aren’t into it

Despite being very popular, Meta has accumulated enough bad press that newer generations generally aren’t using it, and are flocking toward competitors with more dynamic and eye-catching content (think, TikTok). If your audience is fairly young, say, in their early 20s and below, it’s worth exploring other advertising platforms.

5) It accepts bad content

Yes, both Google and Meta will let you make poorly formed content that falls flat. Facebook is also considered an ‘interruption marketing’ platform which makes it harder to identify issues. We have seen content that shouldn’t be performing well, but does, and vice versa. So apply a critical eye to your ads, because Facebook will let you put pretty much anything out there (no matter how bad) as long as you’re not breaking any rules.

google vs meta advertising small business

Final thoughts

When it comes to advertising with Google Ads or Facebook Ads, both platforms have their strengths and weaknesses, and you’ll likely use both as an omnichannel marketing strategy.

Finding out which one to start with will depend on your industry, business’s specific needs, goals, and budget. Marketing is all about continual testing and optimisation, so once you’ve made a decision, commit to it. Plus, any mistakes you make along the way will only help you on your path to success.

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