Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads (and Instagram Ads) for App Installs Campaigns

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Today we are going to take a look at Mobile App Installs campaigns in Google AdWords and Facebook Ads, highlight their main benefits and find the differences between these two advertising platforms.

Which channel is better for app installs campaigns? AdWords or FB Ads?

Today, advertising is the largest source of income on the Internet, and Google, with its AdWords platform, is its king. On the other hand, Facebook also has an advertising platform, Facebook Ads, implemented to its system, empowered with numerous possibilities of segmentation and the great knowledge of human behaviour.

This fact, together with Facebook being the largest social network with nearly 2,000 million active users, and where we are spending most of our time, has raised the questions from the advertisers: Which platform is actually better to invest in order to acquire mobile users, Google AdWords or Facebook Ads?

For this reason, in this post we will break down the main differences about the two ad platforms, so that mobile businesses of any scale and niche can, based on its goals, choose a platform that is more adequate for them.

1. Traffic behaviour in Facebook Ads and Google AdWords

The main difference between Facebook Ads and Google Adwords lies in the behaviour of the users of these two platforms:

Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads

On Facebook users get connected with their friends and family, and they browse for the news and updates.

Google AdWords

Google AdWords

In Google AdWords users are already located one step further in the conversion funnel, as they are likely to be looking for things they need or are ready to buy.

Having a full understanding of these differences, you can easily define how to use each of these channels for your business.

2. Audience reach on Facebook Ads and Google AdWords

Facebook and Google have different ad formats to maximize the audience reach:

Over the years, the Internet giant has managed to develop various ad platforms with all existing formats. The Google Ad Network is divided into the following branches:


A totality of all ads that appear within the Google search and Google Play.

Google Ad Network: Search and Play Store
Campaigns in Google Play (left) and Google mobile web (right)

Display Network

Display Network websites reach over 90% of Internet users around the world. It allows using an advanced targeting to deliver ads in specific contexts (such as “outdoor living”), for specific audiences (such as “young mothers” or “new car buyers”), at specific geographic locations, etc.


With more than a billion users, YouTube is available in more than 70 countries and in more than 60 languages, providing a wide variety of video content from around the world.
It has many different types of segmentation allowing to reach both niche and specific audiences depending on who they are, their interests and the content they see.

Universal App Campaigns

Universal App Campaigns simplify the whole process by allowing to promote Android or iOS apps on Google’s top properties: Google Search, Google Play, YouTube, and Display Network.

Facebook Ad Network

Facebook Ads platform covers ads that are displayed on both Facebook, Instagram and Instagram Stories:


With more than 1.940 million monthly active users, Facebook so far is the most popular social network worldwide.

Facebook Monthly Active Users 2017
Monthly active users of Facebook (in millions)

There are studies indicating that with all the information we provide to the platform, Facebook can get to know us better than even our friends or family. And with all this data, Facebook Ads make it easy to reach any, even a very particular niche, that would be impossible to target in any other way.


Instagram is the most visual and mobile social network that ever existed. More and more users are connecting to social networks through their mobile devices, which makes Instagram Ads more and more effective.

Currently Instagram has over 700 million monthly active users. And it is the fastest growing social network, which has managed to double the number of users in just two years.

Read more | Instagram Stories Ads Guide

3. Segmentation in Google AdWords and Facebook Ads

Google AdWords allows targeting based on:

  • Location: You can target by country, areas within a country, radius around a specific location, and groups of locations.
  • Keywords: You can segment based on the relevant keywords that are used. Be sure to create a list of relevant keywords.
  • Negative keywords: You can limit the visibility of your ads by excluding some irrelevant keywords. Your ads then will be only shown to people who are interested in what you have to offer.
  • Demographics: You can segment by age, gender, and parental status.
  • Device: You can set specific targeting, which includes desktop, mobile, and tablet.
  • Language: Target any language you need.

Facebook Ads has the following segmentation options:

  • Personalized audiences: Personalized audiences can be website visitors, your email list, or mobile app installs.
  • Location: You can segment by country, city, radius and zip codes.
  • Age and Gender: Facebook allows you to target age and gender.
  • More Demographic Data: You can target based on net worth, education level, school, year of graduation and more.
  • Interests: Instead of keywords, Facebook allows you to target interests.
  • Behaviors: Activities that people do on or off Facebook, like travel preferences, buying behavior and device usage.
  • Connections: You can target people who like your page and friends of people who like your page.
Facebook Ads Manager - Segmentation
Facebook Ads Manager

Conclusion: Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads

Google AdWords and Facebook Ads are two very different platforms, each with its pros and cons. Here is a little summary:

  1. Over the years, Google has evolved to have a great variety of ad formats, but Facebook is a more visual solution.
  2. When it comes to audience, both mobile ad networks can provide a high mobile audience reach.
  3. As for segmentation, Facebook Ads provides many interesting options that can make your brand reach the audience you need.

Choosing one or another ad platform will offer different results in each case, although generally these two good platforms are complementary.

Originally posted by Anabel Sánchez-Mateos in PickASO blog.

What advertising platform are you using for App Installs campaigns? Are you using AdWords and FB Ads? Share with us in the comments!

Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads (and Instagram Ads) for App Installs Campaigns
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Katerina Zolotareva

Katerina Zolotareva

Katerina is Marketing and Customer Success Manager at TheTool. She loves writing about App Marketing and Mobile Growth and helping app developers promote their apps! :) Follow her on Twitter or contact via LinkedIn

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3 thoughts on “Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads (and Instagram Ads) for App Installs Campaigns”

  1. Well I’m using both adwords and facebook ads for my apps, one in itunes and one in the playstore.

    I just started the facebook ad campaign today and have been using adwords for the last 9 months. Adwords has been very helpful but conversion levels are a little low. Let’s see how this facebook ad campaign unfolds. I’ll report back soon!

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