Google AdWords is, at this point, the largest and most-used format for Internet advertising. Yet, those AdWords links have been around so long that many web users have simply learned to ignore them. For businesses in certain niches, AdWords can be an expensive proposition, too, as competition for keywords can drive rates through the ceiling.

At the same time, Facebook has emerged as an Internet powerhouse. At more than 900 million users and growing, it is competing with Google for users? attention. According to one recent study, about as many users have Facebook as their browser?s home page as do Google.

Facebook?s growth naturally raises the question: are Facebook Ads an effective option for your business?

Let’s take a look at each of these advertising options from a number of perspectives, and see how they stack up based on your company’s situation.

Why are you advertising?

The first question you need to ask when comparing AdWords and Facebook Ads is why exactly you’re advertising. If you want to drive traffic to your website and make sales, you have a very different goal than if you’re trying to raise brand awareness.

For example, if branding is your goal then Facebook Ads might be a much better option for you than Google AdWords. Facebook page sessions last longer than Google page sessions, on average. If you want to put your message in front of a group of people but don’t want an immediate response or click, Facebook is probably a better option.

On the other hand, Google AdWords click-thru rates are significantly higher than Facebook Ads click-thru rates. When someone does a Google search, the end result will almost always be a click somewhere. With Facebook, users are more apt to see a given Facebook page as the destination.

Who are you trying to reach?

Your target audience has a lot to do with choosing your ad medium, as well. With Google AdWords, you can target web searchers that are looking for certain kinds of information. That can be critical if you’re trying to reach customers who are ready to make a buying decision.

On the other hand, Facebook Ads can let you target your advertising based on a very narrow set of demographic information, if you wish.For example, you can target graduates of a specific University with your Facebook Ads, or narrow down the target audience by geographic, gender, age, ethnicity, and other demographics.

How much technical expertise do you have?

Neither of these advertising platforms is especially easy or intuitive to use. Depending on what kinds of resources your company has at its disposal, one may have an edge over another.

For example, Facebook Ads use the Facebook user interface, and don’t require you to do much in the area of keyword research (unless you want to).

Google AdWords, on the other hand, is most effective when used by a company that can research long-tail keywords, and can evaluate the ad marketplace to make sure they’re bidding on the correct keywords for their target market. There is much deeper functionality in AdWords for the company who has resources to invest in understanding and utilizing the platform, too. Those companies who have SEO staff or who are willing to devote resources to managing their Internet advertising presence may be better off, over the long haul, integrating a Google AdWords approach rather than a Facebook Ads approach.

What is your flagship Internet presence?

For those businesses who primarily rely on Facebook as their Internet presence, Facebook Ads just make sense. If your other marketing efforts key off your Facebook efforts, you want to drive as much of your customer base to that profile as you can. If your primary way of disseminating product and company information is your company’s website, the decision is a bit more difficult. Either Facebook Ads or Google AdWords can be used to drive traffic to your website, but with the much higher click-thru rates on Google you’re much more likely to pull in customers using that platform. The success of any given Internet marketing campaign depends on several factors:

  • The effectiveness of your message
  • The ability to get that message in front of the right consumers
  • The degree to which your advertising platform complements your message and goals

For some companies, that means Facebook Ads will be the better choice; for others, it means Google AdWords is the way to go.

About the Author😕Andy Ramirez is the Director of Interactive Marketing for Vistage International, a membership organization that helps CEOs build successful companies through business coaching groups, executive coaching and executive development opportunities.