AdWords V. Facebook – Who Delivers?

I recently started working with my fourth client who has experienced success advertising on AdWords and wants to replicate that success with Facebook ads. This must a fairly significant trend and worthy of a blog post since I am a small consultancy.

Search and Find vs. Interest and Find

If you are transitioning from AdWords to Facebook, the best way I can explain the difference is search and find vs. interest and find.

On AdWords, people are looking for you.

Customers search for a topic or idea related to your business. And if you do a good job with your keywords and ads, they will find you and be happy with your ad. Then they click and sign up for your offer.

With Facebook, people are doing social network activities that interest them. And then they see your ad in the midst of engaging in these activities.

What Is Your Value In the Social Network?

People generally don’t use Facebook to look for products. They search for people, causes and groups that interest them. Customers are on Facebook, engaging, sharing, and advocating. Then there you are with your offer. That can be a buzz kill.

The challenge is to offer potential customers something in an ad that adds value to their experience.

Demographics and Behavior

The biggest advantage Facebook has over AdWords is the depth of information they have on their users in terms of demographics, psychographics and behavior. Interested in animal lovers who not only love animals, but love rescuing pit bulls on the South Side of Chicago? Facebook is your platform. Want to find empty nesters who are likely to buy a house and are bilingual in Miami Beach? Facebook can find all of them. The challenge is what to say to them that will resonate once you find them. Facebook also offers Graph Search, which lets you come at your users from a lateral view – not just looking at them through the lens of your product, but as a complete person with diverse interests.

Unique Challenge of Financial Products on FB

Financial products have the biggest challenge on Facebook because they don’t naturally fit into the community environment. People don’t discuss annuities, mortgages, and 401k plans in a social networking environment. If a social network is a big party, people like talking property values, but don’t want to talk about how much their own house is worth. It’s fun to talk about the economy to an extent. But it’s not fun to reveal your own salary and what percentage you put into your 401k. If you think that is fun party talk, that is beyond the scope of this blog post.

Some stock trading and budgeting products are a better fit for Facebook. StockTwits is a hugely successful social network based on talking stocks and trades. But most products that advertisers are selling have a challenging time fitting into the social networking space. The trick is finding a way to add to the conversation and be a part of the community space. Sharing a tip, content with value, list of tricks to save money, or free analysis are all good ways to keep the community feel positive on Facebook.


The other big difference between Facebook and AdWords is placement. On AdWords, you can choose where your ad shows up on the page, which pages it shows up on, and delineate much more detail than you can on Facebook. AdWords also encourages advertisers to build out separate campaigns for mobile and desktop. On Facebook, you just click on your placement choices and you are done. You can choose ‘Desktop News Feed’ or ‘Mobile News Feed’, and choose devices, but your campaigns look very similar for each. And if you eliminate mobile from a campaign, your reach will quickly dwindle to next to nothing.

If you choose ‘Audience Network’, Facebook chooses what third party sites they will place your ad on with no discretion at all from the advertiser. Compare this experience to the Display Network ads on AdWords and it is like night and day.


One good rule of thumb for anyone starting out on Facebook from AdWords is to only choose Instagram as an option if your audience is mostly under 35. Facebook is a mature platform and Instagram is the way it reaches Millennials. Instagram requires a bit of extra work – new image specs, hashtags, different messaging, and if done right, an account. It’s not worth wading in unless your audience is young.

Contact Me

These are all high level recommendations. I love nothing more than talking for hours about Facebook vs. AdWords advertising like the most boring guy at the party pontificating about the economy. Email me at to learn more about how to make your Facebook ads successful.

Happy Advertising!

More To Explore


How Outcome Advertising Changes The Game

All of the tools of digital marketing are asking the same questions –
Who is your customer?
What do they want?
How can your product improve your customer’s life?
Where do they hang out?
What do they like?

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