How Facebook Ads Are Different From AdWords

Facebook Ads are different from AdWords

With all of the different options for advertising your brand, which one do you pick? I’ll go over all of the specifics of how Facebook Ads are different from AdWords. 

Deciding between Facebook Ads and AdWords can be confusing. They both use different ways to reach out to potential customers and expose your brand to viewers. But which one should you choose? Well, before making that decision you need to understand how Facebook Ads are different from AdWords.

How Facebook Ads Are Different From AdWords

The thing to remember here when checking out Facebook Ads and AdWords is that they are different–very different. They reach people differently and convey your brand differently as well.

One major difference is that Google’s AdWords are paid search ads where Facebook Ads are paid social ads. They do, however, get paid the same way.

Cost Per Click & the Digital Advertising Budget

Both Facebook Ads and AdWords use the cost per click (CPC) method of paid search. However, their methods of serving your ads are different.


Advertisers using AdWords bid on keywords. These are specific words and phrases that customers will type in their search bars that are similar to your product. The idea is that typing these keywords will bring up your ad and bring interested parties to your webpage.

If anyone clicks on your ad, that’s when you pay. Hence the ‘pay per click’ or ‘cost per click’ method. In essence, you are paying for the potential to find new customers based on the keywords they search with.


Facebook differs from Google in that it focuses specifically on what customers are interested in. Depending on what people like or put on their profile will determine whether or not Facebook displays your ad to them.

Facebook Ads are also CPC, but they are a paid social instead of a paid search like Adwords. The average cost of a CPC Facebook Ad was $0.23 in 2016, with AdWords costing $2.32 per click. Facebook Ads thus run about 88% cheaper than their AdWords counterpart.

Essentially, the difference between paid search and paid social can be reduced and simplified to a single truism: paid search helps prospective customers find your business, while paid social helps your business find prospective customers. Facebook advertising does this by allowing you to target specific audiences that are likely to be interested in your products and services by leveraging the immense wealth of data Facebook has about its users.


SEE ALSO: Everything You Need to Know About Facebook Ads

How do Facebook Ads and AdWords Differ?

While using similar technology to get their ads out there, Facebook Ads and AdWords are actually very different from each other.


Adwords Targeting

As mentioned before, AdWords is a keyword-based search platform. You bid on specific keywords to trigger your ad to appear above the search results for the search results in Google that include that keyword.

Facebook Ads allow you to target your audience using their demographic data (gender, age) and their behavior (what they like/comment on). When a user is able to meet these specific criteria, they will be able to see your ads.

Google’s AdWords may have the upper hand in their targeting because of how they are search related. They are finding people who are potential customers searching something specific most likely because they are ready to buy something right now.

Facebook, on the other hand, is not a site people typically go to when they are searching for products. Although, it is possible that seeing an ad on Facebook may work well for planting seeds for future interactions.


The different techniques which bring up ads also hint at different goals for the companies. AdWords can help you reach out to new customers where FacebookAds allow new customers to find your business.

Google’s AdWords has the main goal of driving sales and other types of conversions. This is why they specifically target people ready to buy or be involved with a company.

Facebook’s Ads can be used for many different things than just buying. They work to promote customer engagement and to raise brand awareness. That’s why they reach out to people who already have similar interests.

If just comparing customer engagement, Facebook would be the clear winner. Google can offer user ratings, but Facebook allows people to truly interact.

They can ask questions, overcome anticipated objections, and offer additional information on your brand. This works well because studies have shown that brand engagement drives sales and encourages customer loyalty.


The ads that Facebook Ads and AdWords offers are completely different as well. AdWords focus on their text. They give two headlines of up to 30 characters and a description line of up to 80 characters. Google Shopping Ads may look a little different, but on average AdWords are text ads.

Facebook ads

Facebook Ads have a wide variety of formats to choose from. These include photo posts, video posts, carousel ads, and canvas ads. All of these different ads will include images to help catch your customer’s eye while they’re perusing.

It is this visual element that really sets Facebook apart from Google. This visual element is what will allow you to create bold ads that will keep your audience clicking.

AdWord’s Biggest Strengths

One of Google’s biggest strengths is the size of their audience. Google gets on average 40,000 search queries every second and a total of more than 1.2 trillion web searches a year! That’s a lot of searches that could bring up your keywords!

Another strength of AdWords is that they are not a ‘spend based’ advertisement. They are more concerned with the quality and relevance of your ad than how much you’re spending.

Google knows that the more relevant the ad is to the user, the better the experience that the user will have. Thus, they are more likely to continue using Google as their main search engine. That is why Google rewards relevance and quality. Advertisers with relevant, optimized, high-quality ads will rarely have to bid as high as other advertisers with poorer quality ads.

That being said, certain keywords may cost more than others. Those in the financial industry, which are traditionally among the most expensive of any professional sector, will have to pay more than others.

Facebook Ad’s Biggest Strengths

Facebook also boasts a vast global audience. They have more than 1.55 billion monthly active users. That is more than one-fifth of the world’s population!

Users on Facebook share almost every detail of their lives. From relationships to career moves, Facebook users share their joys and accomplishments with their friends every day.

They also search for content that aligns with their personal interests, beliefs, ideologies, and values. This gives advertisers the unique ability to tailor their advertising messages to target audiences like never before.

This has created the ability for an advertiser to create ‘lookalike audiences’. Advertisers can upload their customer information based on their own databases. Facebook will then apply filtering from its own data and information to match users whose information correlates.

This creates a ‘lookalike’ audience of users. This allows advertisers to double their potential reach by targeting customers who exhibit the same interests as their existing customers.

Facebook Ad's Biggest Strengths

Facebook also has the advantage of using a visual platform. The powerful visuals in Facebook Ads allow them to blend into the videos, images, and other content in user’s News Feeds.

Thus, advertisers can leverage the persuasive qualities of visual ads and do it in a way that conveys their aspirational messaging, making a high-quality compelling ad.

When comparing ROI, Facebook Ads are a clear winner

The ability of Facebook ads to stretch a limited ad budget for savvy advertisers gives this advertising form an incredible ROI. The budget of a Facebook advertising campaign can vary greatly depending on scope, messaging, and overall campaign objectives, however, Facebook Ads remain remarkably affordable. This makes Facebook Ads an attractive proposition to small businesses with limited resources as well as big brands with large marketing budgets.

Should you be using Facebook Ads or AdWords for your brand?

The answer to this question depends on your business, what you’re selling, and your audience. If you have a lot of pictures and a well-defined audience, then Facebook Ads may be the best fit for you. If you are focusing on local business (Google does a great job of narrowing down your ads for locals) and grab customers while they’re shopping, then AdWords may be right for you.

Consider using both platforms for maximized outreach

Facebook Ads and AdWords are unique and reach different kinds of audience. They are both incredibly powerful advertising platforms that can be beneficial to almost every type of business.

When evaluating the differences and strengths of each business, it is clear that they are different enough to be viewed in a complimentary way. Using the power of search and social methods of advertising can be remarkably effective. It is worth noting however that this will require a dual advertising strategy to maximize the strengths of each respective platform.

Final Thoughts

Facebook Ads and AdWords are both great options for advertising your brand. A closer inspection of your business can tell you which one is better for your business to use. Facebook Ads are great for a visual platform with a defined audience. Google AdWords are great for grabbing customers already shopping. Utilizing a combination of both can reach all kinds of audiences and bring you maximum results.

Have you ever used online advertising? If so, which ad platform did you use?

Written by
Juntae DeLane