2 billion people log into Facebook every month, and 2 million advertisers use the platform to reach them.

Google gets 3.5 billion searches every day, and–well, Google doesn’t release the number of advertisers, but Macquarie Research analysts estimated there were 4 million in 2015.

According to a report by Zenith, Google and Facebook claimed 20% of global ad spend in 2016.

But when it comes to retail performance advertising, will one get you a better ROI than the other?

We hear this question a lot from prospects and clients. This is a tough topic to tackle because 1) it really depends on your vertical and budget, and 2) we’re comparing apples to oranges.

Nevertheless, in this post, we’ll examine the facts about everything from traffic to user data, so you can decide for yourself where your audience is and where your product fits.

Free Guide: Facebook Audience Targeting

Facebook vs. Google Ad Availability Across the World

Facebook Ad Availability

Global targeting options are below (taken from the Facebook Business forum).

Africa
Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mayotte, Mozambique, Réunion, Rwanda, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Sao Tome and Principe, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, Tunisia, Western Sahara, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cote d’Ivoire, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Saint Helena, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo

Asia
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, China, China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China, Macao Special Administrative Region, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Japan, Mongolia, Republic of Korea, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Viet Nam, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Cyprus, Georgia, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, State of Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen

Caribbean
Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curaçao, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Puerto Rico, Saint-Barthélemy, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Martin (French part), Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sint Maarten (Dutch part), Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos Islands and United States Virgin Islands

Central America
Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, and Panama

Europe
Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Ukraine, Åland Islands, Channel Islands, Denmark, Estonia, Faeroe Islands, Finland, Guernsey, Iceland, Greenland, Ireland, Isle of Man, Jersey, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sark, Svalbard and Jan Mayen Islands, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Albania, Andorra, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Gibraltar, Greece, Holy See, Italy, Malta, Montenegro, Portugal, San Marino, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Monaco, Netherlands and Switzerland

North America
Bermuda, Canada, Saint Pierre and Miquelon and the United States of America

Oceania
Australia, New Zealand, Norfolk Island, Fiji, New Caledonia, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Guam, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Micronesia (Federated States of), Nauru, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, American Samoa, Cook Islands, French Polynesia, Niue, Pitcairn, Samoa, Tokelau, Tonga, Tuvalu and Wallis and Futuna Islands

South America
Argentina, Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), French Guiana, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela (The Bolivarian Republic of)

Worldwide
Worldwide

AFTA (ASEAN Free Trade Area)
Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar, and Cambodia

APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation)
Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russian Federation, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Thailand, United States and Vietnam

CISFTA (Commonwealth of Independent States Free Trade Area)
Russian Federation, Ukraine, Belarus, Uzbekistan, Moldova, Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Tajikistan

EEA (European Economic Area)
Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway

GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council)
Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates

MERCOSUR
Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela

NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement)
USA, Canada, AND Mexico

Android app countries (paid)
All countries where the Android app store is available and customers can make purchases on the app store

Android app countries (all)
All countries where the Android app store is available

Emerging markets
Egypt, Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, China, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, Poland, Russia, Turkey, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia

Euro area (countries that use the euro as their common currency)
Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain

iTunes app store countries
All countries where the iTunes app store is available

Google Ad Availability

All Google Shopping ads appear in the following countries:

Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States

AdWords Express is available in the following countries and languages:

Argentina, in Spanish; Australia, in English; Austria, in German; Brazil, in Portuguese; Canada, in English and French; The Czech Republic, in Czech; France, in French; Germany, in German; Hong Kong, in English; India, in English; Indonesia, in Indonesian; Ireland, in English; Italy, in Italian; Japan, in Japanese; Malaysia, in English; Mexico, in Spanish; Netherlands, in Dutch; New Zealand, in English; Nigeria, in English; The Philippines, in English; Poland, in Polish; Russia, in Russian; Singapore, in English; South Africa, in English; Spain, in Spanish; The United Arab Emirates, in English; The United Kingdom, in English; The United States, in English and Spanish

While most Google AdWords ads are available across the world, AdWords & AdSense (in the Display Network) are currently not available in the following countries:

Crimea, Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Sudan, Syria

Blog Post: Learn how to expand your ads globally using the Google Shopping Currency Conversion Tool

Facebook vs. Google Ad Placements

Facebook Ad Placements

Facebook’s ad placements include the following:

 

Within these ad placements, there are tons of different formats and targeting options–and you can target shoppers from awareness to retargeting.

Google Ad Placements

Google AdWords placements include:

 

Shopping ads are incredibly popular for retailers, but that doesn’t mean Text ads are irrelevant. All Google ad types can work together depending on the part of the funnel you’re targeting.

Nii Ahene, COO and co-founder of CPC Strategy, explains:

When you get your Shopping ads performing at a high level, you should work on capturing them in the lower parts of the funnel–and that’s what Text and Audience-based display campaigns can accomplish.

Challenges on Facebook & Google

We know a lot about the benefits of advertising on Facebook and Google, so let’s get into the biggest challenges.

Facebook Ad Challenges

Facebook has powerful targeting options and abilities, but there are so many variables to keep track of. Here are a few:

1. Product types–toilet paper isn’t going to sell on Facebook unless there’s something incredibly unique about it, and a killer brand backing it up. (Never say never.) More about categories below.

2. Creative and copy. Your creative–which includes everything from your headline to your images–can make or break a campaign.

3. Audience. What difference does it make if you have the best creative and copy for your product if it shows up in front of disinterested users? Your audience levers will largely determine how your ads perform.

And one more thing–all of those variables cost money.

“It takes money to test, learn, and iterate on Facebook.” -Nii Ahene, COO of CPC Strategy

Google Ad Challenges

Google helps advertisers drive customers through the funnel with targeted audience buying across display, video, and social.

However, the biggest disadvantage of PPC advertising is that you don’t control aggregate demand.

“You could have the coolest product in the world, but if people aren’t searching for it, you won’t be able to drive much more traffic on search,” says Ahene.

In other words, if you’re a fledgling brand attempting to compete in a popular vertical, AdWords can be an expensive and unproductive place to try to get in front of shoppers.

Our advice?

Focus on building brand awareness first, then come back and start advertising on Google Shopping.

The Bottom Line

Facebook ads

Pros

  • Great for apparel or other verticals where “identity” and “inspiration” are a big part of the buyer journey
  • Audience targeting options are powerful and can be geared toward interests
  • Full-funnel advertising options allow advertisers to gain brand awareness

 

Cons

  • Many variables to keep track of
  • Product type dramatically affects user interest
  • Creative must be top-notch

 

You should advertise on Facebook if: Your products involve inspiration or identity (think: apparel or jewelry) where you can start the process of drawing extremely targeted audiences down a retail funnel.

Google

Pros

  • Creative matters less than Facebook
  • Audience generally has higher intent to buy (especially for text ads)
  • Built to drive customers through the funnel
  • All types of products can sell, particularly essentials

 

Cons

  • Expensive for lesser-known brands in competitive verticals

 

You should advertise on Google if: There’s intent associated with your product, you’re a recognizable brand (or have the money/niche market to compete), and your customers don’t need to be inspired to buy it.

 

The Retailer’s Guide to Social Commerce Channels

Retail Marketing on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter
 

About the AuthorLeanna graduated from Fairleigh Dickinson University (NJ) in 2012 with a BA in Creative Writing and lived in NYC for two years. In 2014, she returned to her home state of California where she enjoys eating too many fish tacos, skipping winter, and writing quality web content for CPC Strategy. Follow her on Twitter @slylikeasmeagol. See all posts by this author here.