Online retailers willing to acquire new customers through ads can’t get anywhere without the help of the two internet giants. But which advertising platform is better for e-commerce?
Both companies are more or less equal and are competing to win over users and become – or, in the case of Google, continue to be – the market leader of the digital advertising industry.
And they do so to the delight of marketers everywhere. Indeed, their competition means that both companies are continuously improving their advertising offers.
Many retailers must ask themselves which platform would be the best choice for their online shop. This article is here to help them find an answer.
But before that, we need to understand how the two competitors differ, how their offers work, and what makes them unique.
If you type in the word “moet chandon” on Google, you are more than likely to be shown ads promoting moet chandon.
Basically, you see ads matching your search query. In online marketing, this kind of advertising is called paid search marketing.
Although there are also other providers (e.g. Bing Ads), Google Ads is the unrivalled market leader in paid search marketing.
In paid search marketing, the right text ads are activated according to the user’s search query and topic to get link clicks.
The Google Ads interface
A simplified overview:
A user enters a search query on Google and corresponding ads are displayed above search results.
Every time a user clicks on an ad, the advertiser’s account is charged and the user gets sent to the promoted website.
In the simplest terms, the ads users are shown depend on the words and search queries they enter in Google searches.
Activating ads on Facebook (or other social networks) falls into the marketing category known as paid social.
You usually don’t log in to Facebook to buy something or to look for something specific.
You actually log in to Facebook to know what’s new among your friends.
To successfully use advertising on Facebook, the rules of the game differ from Google Ads. You can’t be successful on Facebook if you use the same strategies that would work for paid search marketing.
This is one of the main reasons why many fail.
Indeed, instead of being an answer to search queries, your Facebook ads interrupt users while watching funny cat videos and reading posts they are interested in. You need to be aware of this if you want to be successful with advertising on Facebook.
But Facebook and paid social marketing in general enable you to clearly define your target group and show your ads only to people who are really interested in your products.
Everybody uses Google, apart from a small number of users who are categorically against it or use a pre-set search engine.
With more than 6.5 billion search queries per day, Google provides advertisers with almost endless possibilities to reach new customers.
The only other search engine whose users have increased significantly over the last few years is Baidu, Google’s Chinese competitor.
Advertisers using Google Ads can book ads on the Search Network or on the Display Network.
The Search Network comprises Google as a search engine. Advertisers can activate ads that are displayed when a user enters relevant search queries on Google.
In the Display Network, the classic banner ads are used.
Advertisers can activate advertisements on participating websites to acquire new customers, lure visitors back to the shop page, and improve brand awareness.
Google is still the main source of income for a huge number of website operators. Simply put, you can reach potential customers in almost every corner of the web.
Google explains here how it works in just under 2 minutes:
A further benefit of Google Ads is the wide range of ad formats. Features like rich snippets are interesting to online retailers especially because they enable them to attract new visitors to their shop.
Facebook entered the advertising market a few years after Google.
But if you think that Google has a clear advantage with respect to Facebook, you’re wrong. This is because Facebook has vastly improved its advertising offer and developed it into the Holy Grail of paid social advertising.
With its 1.28 billion daily users, Facebook also has an enormous potential for advertisers.
But, apart from the huge number of users, what makes Facebook so attractive for advertisers is that they can target users in a very precise way.
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The data users voluntarily share on Facebook (which Facebook eagerly collects) can be used by advertisers to increase sales.
Do you want to target an engaged young woman who studies at university and is interested in interior design? With the endless targeting options offered by Facebook, this is not a problem.
Facebook also offers advertisers the opportunity to create what are known as ‘lookalike audiences’.
If advertisers have already collected data on their customers, such as their e-mail addresses, they can upload them to Facebook.
Facebook then creates a new target group (the lookalike audience) including users displaying an online behaviour which is similar to that of existing customers.
Et voilà! The number of new potential customers, who will probably be interested in the offered products, has increased significantly.
A further benefit lies in the visual display of Facebook ads. Hardly any other advertising platform offers the opportunity to present products in such a beautiful way and together with a call to action.
Both advertising platforms have features you could benefit from to significantly increase sales.
That’s why you shouldn’t consider these two platforms as alternatives, but rather benefit from the strengths of both Google and Facebook at the same time.
The following sentence summarises the difference between Facebook ads and Google Ads and helps you understand how advertising on these two platforms works:
Facebook ads help customers find you; Google Ads helps you find customers.
Here, too, the same old rule applies: test what works better for you. Using paid search and paid social marketing in an effective way should be the objective of every advertiser willing to make the most of their advertising budget.