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Google Remarketing vs. Facebook Retargeting: Which Should You Choose?

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

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Whether you’re an ecommerce-only, brick-and-mortar, or somewhere-in-between business, online marketing is essential. But while there are many weapons in the online marketing arsenal, few are as powerful as capitalizing on interest already shown in your brand, product, or service. 

Retargeting — or remarketing, depending on the platform (e.g., Google) — gives you an avenue to reconnect with people who have visited your website, added products to their cart, or downloaded your app. The first step to harnessing the power of retargeting? Picking the right platform!

The biggest and best platform options for retargeting are — you guessed it — Google and Facebook. With both being so valuable, instead of choosing either/or, it’s useful to have some ad spend in both.

Google and Facebook both offer effective retargeting and remarketing features, but there are some differences to consider when setting up campaigns with either one. Let’s explore what they are.

Facebook Retargeting

With nearly 3 billion active users, Facebook is a great place to launch your first retargeting campaign. Many of the potential customers you might target will also have presence on the platform. Instagram is also a part of Facebook, giving you access to both audiences. 

A Facebook retargeting campaign involves targeting the users who have previously interacted with your business and displaying specific ads on their Facebook feed to entice them back. These ads can come up when they are simply scrolling and looking for content or when they search for topics related to your business on the platform.

Facebook’s Ad Manager offers a top-down view of all your current campaigns.

Facebook’s Ad Manager offers a top-down view of all your current campaigns.

Getting started with Facebook retargeting requires installing a pixel in your website’s code, which helps the platform identify users who have interacted with your brand across your marketing touchpoints.

You can customize your campaign audience based on who you want to retarget. Popular options include:

  • Website visitors for specific periods (usually 30, 60, or 90 days)

  • Repeat blog visitors

  • Visitors of particular landing pages and blog articles

  • Existing customers

  • Cart abandoners, aka online shoppers who didn’t complete their purchase

  • Online shoppers who browsed but didn’t add any items to their carts

Once you’ve created your custom retargeting audience, you can craft tailor-made, bespoke ads for each user, whether they be a carousel ad on Facebook or a post on Instagram Stories.

The Benefits of Facebook Retargeting

There are some unique benefits to working with Facebook for retargeting campaigns. Let’s take a look at the advantages that set the platform apart:

Integration with mailing lists

Facebook retargeting strategies don’t only need to focus on Facebook, Instagram, and website activity. When selecting a Facebook retargeting audience, you can upload your existing email subscriber list. Facebook will then connect the user information to Facebook and Instagram profiles and show the ad directly to relevant users. 

The highest conversions

Conversions are the name of the game, and no retargeting platform delivers quite like Facebook does. The stats show that Facebook retargeting directly results in the highest conversion rate, boosting engagement by 300% compared to ads that aren’t directed at a retargeting audience. Here’s why:

  • People tend to engage more with social media ads because the platforms are usually a little less busy than a search page. If they see an ad placed on their profile page, it won’t make their search data more cluttered or keep them from performing an important task. As a result, the ads get more attention and, therefore, more conversions. 

  • People tend to use search engines to do their searches and might browse quite a few websites, including yours, before they exit their search and carry on with life. As a result, you are now one of many brands on their mind. However, when they open their Facebook or Instagram pages, your ad is only competing with the content already on their feed — not another brand with the same objective.

Lookalike audiences

One of Facebook’s most useful retargeting features is the lookalike audience option, which lets you create a pool of shoppers similar to those you have successfully converted in the past. Why reinvent the wheel when you can spend your budget targeting easy audiences that resemble your existing shoppers’ habits and demographics?

Google Remarketing

Google’s version of retargeting is known as Google remarketing, and it is in many ways similar to Facebook retargeting. For example, Google can create a target audience from anyone who has interacted with your brand on your website or Google. 

Google Ads helps you compare the effectiveness of your campaigns.

Google Ads helps you compare the effectiveness of your campaigns.

The big difference is that with Google remarketing, targeted ads are shown on all Google Display Network platforms, which includes millions of websites. The platform also has access to a treasure trove of search data, with Google being the most widely used search engine in the world.

The Benefits of Google Remarketing

While there are some social media components, Google primarily gets its traffic from search, YouTube, and even Chrome browser users. Unsurprisingly, many of the advantages of Google remarketing come from this unique position.

Merit-based ad ranking

Don’t have the world’s largest marketing budget? Don’t worry. Google Ads prioritizes relevance and quality when it comes to which ads get the most screen time. That means more often than not, an ad with a high click-through rate and an effective message will win out over a poorly crafted ad with a big budget.

Placement variety

The Google Display Network can reach more than 90% of all internet users in the world. With the choices you have for ad placement as wide as the web itself, that audience will be hard to beat.

Which One Should You Choose? 

In the epic battle of Google remarketing vs. Facebook retargeting, there’s really no need to pick just one winner. Both have their own unique benefits, and a comprehensive online marketing strategy should always include a plan for each platform.

After all, the reality is the more effective channels you can add to your marketing plan, the better. Your retargeting audience is going to spend their time on different channels and so should you! To capture as much of their attention as possible — you’ve got to diversify your outreach. You can be much more flexible with this approach, as well. In the event of algorithmic changes or disruption in one channel, you’ll have other avenues to fall back on.

That’s why it’s best to take a cross-channel approach, using both Google and Facebook to reach your retargeting audience. This opens up new possibilities for retargeting/remarketing, giving you multiple channels and approaches to choose from. But you might need some new tools to make sure you’ve optimized your cross-channel campaigns.

How to Get Started

Cross-channel marketing is about creating an integrated experience for current and potential customers. The concept is that every single online marketing channel and campaign becomes integrated across all your platforms. 

There’s an inherent advantage to a cross-channel marketing approach. Not only can you make sure your messaging and branding are consistent wherever they are found online, but you can also connect with the same customer across platforms. 

But be warned: You risk diluting your brand message by setting up your retargeting and remarketing campaigns on each channel individually. A disjointed approach wastes time and money because the campaigns on one channel are difficult to compare directly to campaigns on another. It’s also more difficult to keep them consistent this way — one thing all marketing experts can agree on is repetition and consistent brand exposure are vital to boosting conversions. Plus, it’s generally good practice to minimize the number of dashboards and amount of data you have to keep track of.

Instead, consider leveraging a cross-channel marketing platform, like AdRoll. We help you launch, monitor, and optimize your retargeting and remarketing campaigns on Google and Facebook, so you can: 

  • See all your campaigns from every channel (including Pinterest and TikTok) at once

  • Keep track of important metrics like click-through and conversion rates

  • Adjust ad spend at any time to keep your campaigns cost-effective

  • Target specific, high-intent audiences

While the Google remarketing vs. Facebook retargeting battle might have ended in a draw, one thing is clear — a cross-channel marketing strategy is the most effective strategy to reach potential customers online.

Ready to get started on a remarketing campaign with Google Ads? Check out our Ultimate Google Remarketing Guide, and you’ll be well on your way to sealing the deal with a sea of potential customers.

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