Choosing Between Google Ads and Facebook Ads for ChurchesLast Updated: May 1st, 2020


It’s without question that understanding the benefits of both Google Ads and Facebook Ads is important for churches looking to grow. As people are spending more and more time online, churches must find new ways to connect with individuals who are searching for spiritual answers and meet them wherever they are.

Considering Google receives more than 63,000 searches per second, it’s one of the most important places for churches to provide these answers. Google’s massive search volumes include queries from local people searching for help that churches can provide, and potentially those of people looking for a church just like yours. It’s also been reported that 68% of Americans spend an average of 35 minutes per day on Facebook alone. Between these two popular platforms, your church has a significant opportunity to connect with thousands of people online via paid digital advertising.

When resources are limited, choosing where to spend online advertising dollars can be a difficult task. This article offers a brief overview of both Google Ads and Facebook Ads along with several important considerations when choosing between the two.

Advertising through Google Ads for Churches

As of the time of this writing, Google is the largest search engine in the world by a landslide. Advertising on Google is like opening a lemonade stand next to a highway in the desert and then erecting a large billboard that encourages people to stop and purchase a cold and refreshing drink. Google makes it very easy to deliver your message to people who are likely to be in need of whatever it is you’re offering.

 When considering Google Ads for Churches, it’s important to know that there are two major types: Google Search and Google Display Network. Google Search Ads are connected to specific keywords an individual might search in Google and will appear in the results of a Google Search Engine Result Page (or a SERP). Google Display Network Ads can show up in places all over the internet as an individual travels from one webpage to another. One might see these ads in the middle of an article they’re reading about a related topic. Both Google Search and Display Network campaigns have unique features that make them effective advertising options.

You can learn more about Google Search and Google Display Network campaigns by clicking the following links:

Benefits of Using Google Ads

Google Ads are primarily built around keywords or search intent. These are the specific words and phrases, or rather, queries, that people type into Google. This means that a Google ad can be targeted to the people who are actively searching for exactly what your church or ministry offers. Imagine your church being able to show an ad for your men’s ministry to people searching Google for “Men’s Ministry in [your city name]”.   

Google Ads also act as an online equalizer. Large and well-resourced churches who have been actively engaged in Local SEO efforts may show up in local Google search results before smaller, under-resourced churches. But when an individual searches in Google, it’s very likely that a paid ad will be the first search result listed on a SERP, showing even higher than any map-based search results or the organic search results below it. In this way, Google Ads offers an opportunity for smaller churches to improve their online traffic even if they haven’t yet achieved any high organic search rankings.

Downside to Using Google Advertising

Running a Google Ad can seem complicated to new advertisers. Individuals running an ad on Google must make multiple decisions before an ad is ever able to run (Google Search or Google Display, selection of keywords and campaign goals, organization of ad groups, location targeting, demographics, and bid strategy). Your church’s website must also be secure, or https-enabled, before Google will approve and show your ads. Although running an ad on Google with the proper set-up and targeting is incredibly effective, it might not be the best place to start for those looking to run an online ad for the very first time and without the expertise of a digital advertising professional.

Advertising through Facebook Ads

Facebook offers paid promotion through a variety of campaign goals and two different methods of promoting your organization – an ad or a boosted post. In general terms, a Facebook ad is used with the goal of more tangible results, such as sending traffic to your website, generating sales, or generating leads, whereas a boosted post is for the purposes of engagement on the post itself (ie, likes and comments).  All methods of Facebook advertising reach audiences who are somewhat less “intentional” than those of Google, since the ads and boosted posts are served to people simply browsing their feeds, groups, etc, rather than searching with specific keywords to which the ads are associated.

Benefits of Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads offer churches an opportunity to reach the 2.45 billion monthly active users worldwide. More importantly, Facebook Ads gives churches the option to reach a new audience outside of those who typically see your church posts and interact with your church’s Facebook page. Ads can be customized, controlled, and shown to a target audience based on age, interests, location, and more.  The demographics targeting on Facebook is somewhat more reliable than Google since Facebook requires users to have a registered account.

What’s the difference between a Facebook Ad and a Boosted Post?

As previously mentioned, Boosting a Facebook post is for the main purpose of getting people to engage with the post itself, either by liking it, writing a comment, or sharing it with others. The goal is “brand awareness”. This is not something we typically recommend for churches to do, since we know that the strongest conversion funnel for creating new in person visitors is created by having a properly organized church website that leads to an engaging and comprehensive “Plan a Visit” page. 

Facebook Ads, on the other hand, offer more customization options than Boosted Posts, and can be created with more specific objectives such as landing page views, website conversions, video views, app installs, and more. 

Downside to Facebook Advertising 

The main downside with Facebook Ads is the audience using Facebook. Facebook is primarily a social platform, so individuals don’t often go to Facebook looking for a local church or searching for spiritual answers. This means ads on Facebook aren’t served to individuals intentionally seeking help from the church, as opposed to Google, where the searcher’s intent is quite clear. Facebook Ads are still a wonderful option to increase your church website traffic and promote your services and special events, but it might not be the best solution to connect  with those actively searching for a local church.

BONUS: Google Grants

Did you know that Google offers up to $10,000 per month in free advertising to nonprofits? If your church is a 501C3, there’s a good chance you can qualify for the Google Ad Grant program. You can find out if you’re eligible and learn more HERE.


Main Takeaway on Google Ads vs. Facebook Ads for Churches

Churches today must include online advertising in their yearly outreach budget for church growth. When done correctly, churches investing in their online presence will experience growth, whereas the churches ignoring their online presence may soon find themselves obsolete

If you’re interested in running an online ad for the first time, consider selecting the goal of “Landing Page Views” and send the traffic to a highly engaging page of your website. Once you’ve tried that, consider adding a Google Display Network or Google Search campaign.

Trust the Experts in Digital Outreach for Churches

The online experts at Missional Marketing are ready to help you with your next church ad campaign. We’d love to help your church advertise for Christmas, Easter, or any upcoming church event.


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