Should you promote your business on Facebook or on Google?

Internet advertising in South Africa is expected to account for 25 percent of the total ad market in the country, with a value of over 580 million U.S. dollars by 2023!

Those ‘sponsored’ posts you keep seeing on your Facebook timeline as well as the ads on Google for the exact thing you are looking for, are carefully placed there by advertisers.

What is the difference between Facebook ads and Google ads, and could they hold the key to success in your business?

Google Ads Vs Facebook Ads

Paid vs free online marketing

Your business probably has a website, and its own social media pages. If you are clever, and you do some research, you can use these successfully to grow your brand without paid advertising.

A great benefit of organic (free) advertising (which is really just a fancy way or referring to growing your online presence) is that it gives you a high ranking on search engine result pages.

In layman’s terms that simply means that you will appear on top of your potential client’s Google search. This is critical, as it has been shown that 75% of people don’t click past the first page of search engine results.  

So, if you don’t have a high ranking, and you can’t spend on paid advertising for some reason, your website won’t get traffic – that is potential income lost.

A high ranking has the further benefit of building trust. It creates the impression that you know what you are doing, your content is relevant and you can solve the client/customer’s problem. 

So why should you even bother with paid advertising?

Is online marketing worth it?

Growing the organic reach of your website is not something that happens overnight, and it doesn’t happen by itself either. You need to know what you are doing.

It takes time, and, depending on your knowledge, you might even have to pay someone to help you.

In South Africa, the internet is the second largest advertising medium, with TV being in the first place. It is, however, estimated that internet advertising will be higher than TV by the end of 2023. 

There is a good reason for this. Paid advertising goes hand-in-hand with organic growth to help you achieve even more, as it has very distinct benefits.

Is Online Marketing Worth It 1

A few of these benefits are:

  • There are A LOT of people online at all times. In fact, over half of the world’s population uses the internet. Paid advertising allows you to reach many people in a short time.
  • It won’t cost you a fortune and you are in control of how much you spend. You can start small, see what works and then perhaps decide to spend more at a later stage.
  • Some advertising platforms let you pay only when someone clicks on your ad – so you only pay for successful ads.
  • Paid advertising exposes your product to the exact people that are looking for it. Therefore it works fast.
  • You are in full control of your advertising campaign and you have access to stats regarding your site traffic, bounce rate and more. This information helps you to adjust your ad as needed.
    You can even instantly remove your ad, for example if you run out of stock.
  • You choose who sees your ads, and you can target very specific groups of people. The exact people who need what you are offering.
Online advertising in numbers

77%The number of Twitter users who will have a higher opinion of your brand if you respond to their tweets. There is great value in acknowledging people.

4 hours or lessHow long Twitter users are willing to wait for a business to respond to their tweet.
1 700The number of banner ads that an internet user will see in a month. They only really notice about half of them.

84%The percentage of people that believe brands should be creating content. Offer your clients information in the form of articles, or even better, pictures and video.

$33 millionThe cost of the most expensive marketing campaign ever created. The campaign belonged to Chanel, and $3 million went to Nicole Kidman, who starred in the video.

1 200%How many more video content is shared over text and links combined. Videos attract more attention and are more memorable.

90% The number of searchers who have not decided which brand they are going to use before they start searching. A quality product and competitive pricing is more important than brand loyalty.

Over 40%The amount of users who do research online before buying a product.
Around 80 million. The number of business accounts on Facebook.


Online advertising: what are the stumbling blocks?

Internet marketing can certainly contribute to growth in your business. But what are the disadvantages, if any?

One of the problems online advertisers face is oversaturation. Have you ever visited a web page, only to have to navigate your way through a myriad of ads to find what you are looking for?

It happens to most of us, and in our frustration to get the ads out of the way we hardly notice what they are trying to tell us, and besides, we are already a little irritated by these advertisers.

Other problems associated with online advertising are as follows: 

  • You are not the only one who wants to grow their business online, therefore you will face plenty of competition.
    Your business might come out on top of the search results, but your competitor could be right below you. You will have to ensure that you have that extra something special that makes the client come to you.
  • It is very easy for an internet user to simply block ads if they choose to do so. Even with videos it’s difficult to force someone to watch your ad. Just think of all the times you have clicked the ‘skip ad’ button.
  • As mentioned before, getting an ad up is easy, but you do need deeper knowledge in order to optimally benefit from an online campaign.
    Advertising analytics is a brand new field you will have to master to get the most out of your online advertising, and it can get confusing, especially if you have not dealt with it before.
  • There are still households that are not connected to the internet, so you won’t be able to reach them.
    Among internet users you also have those who are not yet convinced that ordering a product online is safe and reliable.
  • There isn’t a one-size-fits-all recipe for successful online advertising. You will have to play around with different ways of doing it in order to find what works best for you.
  • The internet is a busy place with a lot to see – and a lot to distract someone from paying attention to an ad.

The factors here may appear slightly daunting, but they are merely challenges in your path to prosperity. You knew there were going to be challenges, and with a bit of creativity you can solve them.

Facebook vs Google

Choosing to advertise on either Facebook or via Google ads are both extremely popular options. So what’s the difference and what should you choose for your own business?

Let’s first look at Facebook. Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, making it possible to reach all kinds of people.

Facebook 1

Facebook ads are structured in such a way that you can be very specific in exactly what kind of people you want to see your ad, and this is one of the great things about it.

Any business can advertise on Facebook, but it works particularly well for small to medium businesses.

There are three types of audiences you can reach using Facebook advertising:

  1. Core audience. An audience based on criteria like age, interests and geography. For instance, your ad might be aimed at twenty-somethings in Johannesburg who enjoy having a braai.
  1. Custom audience. This lets you get back in touch with people who have previously interacted with your business.
  1. Lookalike audience. Reach new people who have similar interests than your best customers.

The different types of ads you can create on Facebook include photo ads, video ads, story ads and lead ads.

A photo ad, as the name implies, lets you share content with the use of images. Video ads are also self explanatory, and they are great if you want to explain something, such as how your product works, to your customer.

In story ads you can use a combination of images and video. With lead ads you can share visual content, as well as find new people who might be interested in what you have to offer.

With lead ads, you provide a helpful piece of content that encourages people to sign up for a newsletter, receive a price estimate or request additional information.

In return, when the viewer fills out the form, the business receives a new lead.

Advertising with Facebook Messenger. Just like with Facebook, a massive number of people make use of Messenger, Facebook’s separate messaging app. You can use this to your business’s advantage.

Spread the word about your business via Messenger in the following ways: 
Facebook Messenger call-to-action in ads: Start conversations with ads on Facebook that include a call-to-action to send a message.

Facebook Messenger story ads: Run story ads on Messenger Stories.
Facebook Messenger ads: Deliver ads straight to users’ Facebook Messenger chats.

Now, let’s consider Google Ads

When you want to buy something or you are looking for a specific service, nothing is easier than hopping online and doing a quick search. 

This is where paid advertising comes in – it ensures that your ad is seen by exactly that person who is looking for your products.

So what if you have perfected your website over time, and you already appear right on top of the search results? You can still benefit from paid advertising on Google. 

Paid ads appear right on top of the search results, above the organic results. Apart from that, it’s worthwhile to note that advertisers make on average R8 for every R1 they spend on Google ads.

Learning to read and understand the analytics of your ad campaigns will help you grow as a successful marketer. In time you will understand how to analyse your ads and improve them to reach even more people.

Like Facebook, Google also offers a few different types of ad campaigns: 

  • Search campaigns. These are text ads that appear on the search results. They let you reach people while they are searching Google for the products and services that you offer.
  • Display campaigns. These ads take the form of images that appear on websites. They let you reach people with visually engaging ads as they browse across millions of websites and apps.
  • Video campaigns let you show video ads on YouTube. Some video campaigns help you boost brand awareness, while others drive conversions or get people to shop on your website.
  • Shopping campaigns. They are product listings on Google and work well if you want to sell a product. Shopping ads appear on search results as well as the Google Shopping tab.
    There is even an option for store owners to use local inventory ads to promote products they have available at their physical locations.
  • App campaigns allow you to promote your app on various channels, and helps you to find new app users and increase sales within your app.
  • Local campaigns are specifically designed to bring people to your physical stores and venues.
    The ad provides detailed location info, helping people to find your business address and operating hours. You can advertise in-store events and local promotions. 
  • Smart campaigns allow you to automate your campaigns, and are the easiest way to get going with Google ads.
    You enter your business info, and leave the rest to Google, who will go ahead and find the most efficient ways to target your ads.

A quick benefits comparison

Google AdsFacebook Ads
Enables you to reach the people who are actively looking for your product.It is affordable and you can reach your target audience on almost any budget.
Using different keywords you can reach many different audiences with the same product.You can be very broad, or very specific about who you want to target. You can even target people whose birthdays are coming up.
You can target specific geographical locations. If you are a local business owner, this means you can reach more people in your community.Facebook remarketing shows your ads to people who have already visited your website. This works because you are targeting people who have already shown interest in your product.



Both Google Ads and Facebook advertising have great potential to help you make a profit. If your budget allows it, nothing stops you from even using both.

Your rewards will no doubt be greater if you have sufficient knowledge to fine-tune your ad campaign to do exactly what you want it to do. This might be easier than you think.

Know someone that can benefit & would thank you for the share?


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