Facebook and AdWords: A Little-known Super Team

With Google and Facebook leading the world of ad revenue, claiming over half of the revenue worldwide, you would think that advertisers are jumping at the opportunity to take advantage of both platforms. Astonishingly, it seems that what exists today is a clash between advocates of classic AdWords users (seekers of “measurable results”), and Facebook advertisers (embracers of contemporary technology).  Unfortunately for both sides, the bigger profits come with the bigger picture: linear shopping does not exist.


Let’s elaborate…

Online consumers reach their desired products by jumping around on multiple channels. And whether or not advertisers like it, many of those channels include social and search.

For your visual reference, here is an example of a consumer’s path to purchase:

Facebook and Google AdWords Work Better Together (Proof)

(You can follow this path to find your own conversion paths in Google Analytics: Conversions>Multi Channel Funnels>Assisted Conversions>Top Conversion Paths>Secondary Dimension= “Source/Medium”)

The last-click mentality is finally starting to gain recognition as something very flawed, leading advertisers to find the true value of social and search.

The AdWords vs. Facebook can be simply broken down below:

  • Facebook: Lower conversion rate, more prospects
  • AdWords: Higher conversion rate, fewer prospects

Keep reading, and you will begin to understand 3  very important concepts:

  • how audience prospecting on Facebook directly impacts your AdWords ROI
  • the way the AdWords campaigns convert your Facebook audience
  • how you can take advantage of both ad platforms for a greater overall return.

Google Users Should Invest in Facebook. Here’s why:

As mentioned above, Facebook offers a lower conversion rate, but a higher number of prospects.

To put it simply, Facebook ads can be drawn into two categories: retargeting and prospecting.

Retargeting is an effortless sale, and we highly recommend every e-commerce client start with Dynamic Ads to retarget shoppers who have previously performed an action on their website.

Still, the value of prospects isn’t always visible at first, as it may seem that advertisers are broadcasting to “cold leads”. Many advertisers abandon Facebook’s prospecting ads almost instantly after trial because the surface return doesn’t immediately compare to that of AdWords.

As strong believers of the value of prospecting, we set out to prove those advertisers wrong.

The Impact of Facebook Prospecting Ads on Google AdWords

When a new audience is exposed to a brand on Facebook, they may not engage with the ad at that moment, but they’re more likely to remember the brand and reach the website later through Google.

The Theory

As of right now, it is difficult to prove the efficacy of Facebook prospecting ads, because the numbers tend to get obscured in AdWords branded text ad campaigns.

The Case Study

To begin, we selected a client running both Facebook prospecting ads and Google ads simultaneously. This particular electronics company has previously seen a lot of success early on using Google AdWords via an existing demand for their product. Lower-funnel ads worked great for a while, but soon plummeted, hitting a point of diminishing returns. We needed to find a way to go beyond demand fulfillment, and reach new customers.

In turn, we turned to Facebook and began to do the following:

  • Build lookalike audiences based on previous shoppers
  • Tailor ads creative to specific affinity groups
  • Set up ad types (which included slideshow videos w/captions, regular video, and carousel ads)

Following this, we ran a test, compiling both AdWords and Facebook data. The results were astonishing:

Facebook and Google AdWords Work Better Together (Proof)

We noted that, “as we increased spend on Facebook prospecting, we saw significantly more branded impressions.”

To find such significant results meant that, inevitably, Facebook was to run a similar study. We found that consumers that had been exposed to Facebook ads were significantly more likely to search for more cost-effective branded keywords and, in some cases, less likely to search for more expensive unbranded keywords.

And now that we’ve seen and understood the significance of Facebook ads, let’s take a closer look at AdWords.

Facebook Users should invest in AdWords. Here’s Why:

We now know that AdWords offers fewer prospects, but a higher conversion rate. What does this mean?

It means that while Google AdWords also offers the ability to retarget site visitors and build audiences (like Facebook), its main strength is in closing the deal via Search and Shopping. So if you’re solely invested in Facebook ads, you may want to reconsider spreading your funds to both platforms.

On Facebook, you’re generating a lot of interest–whether it’s a Facebook page or great content. However, Facebook isn’t going to be more main revenue driver. The real benefit to Facebook is it builds up all of your other marketing channels. Google is the low hanging fruit here.”

Here’s the key to AdWords: start answering branded, low-funnel queries and capture shoppers with their cards out.

Google can capture the demand that Facebook offers.

In an ideal world, all consumers would opt to buy directly from the site we built, or moved down the buyer funnel we carefully created. Unfortunately, advertising is a highly complex system where, to be successful, we as advertisers must cater to the reality of how our customers shop.

The taboo of selling your product on Amazon or Google creates a situation where your customer is now more likely to purchase the competitors’ products, because whether you like it or not, your customers are shopping there. Advertisers seeking to build a brand must be able to get over this taboo and gain visibility on the platforms their customers frequently use.

If someone sees an ad for your product on Facebook, they may not feel sure it’s a good idea to click through Facebook to your site. Instead, they may turn to Google to verify you are a legitimate brand. If you don’t show up on Google, it’s a red flag to that shopper.

The return from Google is always going to be higher than Facebook, that’s not because your Facebook ad strategy sucks, it’s because it’s a social site where you’re generating demand. If people are searching for you on Google and you’re not there, you’re missing out.

And this is absolutely right. Your audience will see you on Facebook, and verify you on Google. It’s a system that, when utilized properly, works very well for brands.

Take Action: A Combined Facebook and AdWords Strategy

1. Start With Facebook Dynamic Ads (Pixel Product Feed Required)

As previously mentioned, this is our suggestion to launch a successful advertisement. These ads are powerful, conversion-centered, and require nothing but your product feed and a working Pixel on your site. If your Dynamic Ads aren’t performing well, it’s a strong indicator that prospecting won’t be very successful. Capture that traffic that is already familiar with your brand, and then move on to new customer acquisition. Once you direct your new visitors to your site via Facebook prospecting efforts, you can then retarget them with Dynamic Ads, featuring pages they’ve previously visited or objects they’ve abandoned in the cart. Close that sale.

2. Use AdWords data to inform Facebook Audience Targeting

If you’re feeling unsure where to start with Facebook audience building beyond the Pixel and your own CRM Lookalikes, you’ve found your saving grace. You’ll want to leverage your AdWords data to reach new audiences and target ads effectively. Here are a few key concepts of AdWords data that may prove useful to you, depending on your brand:

  • Aggregate times of the week
  • Gender
  • Household income

The above will put your brand on the radar of shoppers that you wouldn’t have reached otherwise, and this strategy is far less risky than guessing when building your Facebook affinity audiences.

3. Use Google Non-Branded Queries to Create Demand on Facebook

Next, you’ll want to build Facebook audiences based on the top-performing non-branded terms on Google.

For instance, if you sell wallets, you can use target terms such as “canvas wallet” in your AdWords campaigns, then see what other keywords emerge. Once you’ve gathered enough data, you can build audiences on Facebook that have had some connection to those terms. (As of right now, we aren’t sure how Facebook determines this, but we hypothesize that it’s likely based on past conversations or ads the consumers have engaged with.)

Although the strategy is successful, you shouldn’t set your expectations to be that this will take effect immediately. Don’t expect the best ROI on a non-branded term, because that audience has never heard of you. What you are trying to do is turn non-branded purchases into repeat purchasers; focusing on Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).

4. Retarget Facebook Referrals on google

Finally, you’ll want to create an RLSA audience in AdWords for people who have visited your site from a Facebook ad, and target them lower in the funnel on Google.

This part of the strategy is particularly effective for recapturing past purchasers. We’ve tested this with several of our clients, and we’ve seen great results. Still, it does depend on the product. Seasonality and other factors will always come into play.


We are firm believers in these two channels. They’ve proven to be far more powerful together than on their own. We’re looking forward to a time when a multi-channel strategy is the norm, and technology makes it easier to see the connection across platforms. Until then, examine the ROI on both of these channels side-by-side–and watch your sales grow.


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