Facebook and AdWords: Better Together

Facebook and AdWords: Better Together

20th April 2016

Google’s astounding reach and Facebook’s unparalleled targeting opportunities are both forces to be reckoned with, and are most powerful when they are used together.facebook adwords

A study from Kenshoo showed that paid search audience segments which were exposed to Facebook advertising generated 30% more Return on Ad Spend, and a significantly higher than average order value, alongside a lower cost per acquisition.

If we could combine Facebook and Google AdWords, these two advertising platforms could quite possibly run the world (move over Beyoncé). Maybe they’d be called Foogle (Facebook+Google), or FaceWords (Facebook+AdWords). As that’s not likely to happen any time soon, try out these tactics to make the most of using their powers together:

Increase your AdWords visibility when the user searching is one of your top converting Facebook audience members

We all know that it’s much easier to drive a repeat purchase than to gain a brand new customer, and you can use Facebook and AdWords together to capitalise on this.

You can increase the visibility of your AdWords PPC search ads by increasing your bids when the user searching is someone who is part of your top converting Facebook audience. This is great because you know these people are strong converters historically, and so are likely to convert again.

For example an ecommerce clothing website might run Facebook ads to find new customers who aren’t proactively searching or aware of their brand. Once these Facebook campaigns have gathered data, they could identify which ad set is the top converting ad set and then create a Google Analytics remarketing list (based on an element of the UTM tag this ad set was given), and apply this as a Remarketing List for Search Ad (RLSA) bid adjustment on their search campaigns. This means they could increase their bids if the user searching on Google is someone who has previously visited their site as a result of one of their top converting Facebook ads.


  • Run your Facebook ads and once you have data, decide which is your top converting Facebook ad set
  • Tag the URLs in this ad set with Google Analytics UTM tracking code, using one of the tag elements to label it as ‘top converter’ (learn how to do this here)
  • Create a remarketing list in Google Analytics based on the traffic source matching the Top Converters campaign (learn how to create a remarketing list here)
  • Apply this list as an RLSA across your desired search campaigns (Learn how to do this here)

This tactic is particularly useful for brands that drive a high volume of conversions from Facebook ads, and can be layered alongside other RLSA bid adjustments for your historic PPC converters too. Just remember that bid adjustments stack so if there’s a lot of cross-over you’ll be heightening your bids a lot and for the same audience.

Supercharge your Facebook Custom Audiences and Gmail Sponsored Promotions by using them together

Gmail Sponsored Promotions using Customer Match targeting and Facebook ads using Custom Audiences are a match made in heaven. You’ve probably already tested using the same email list for targeting on both Facebook and Gmail Sponsored Promotions.

To supercharge this tactic you can segment your mailing list in Facebook so that the users on the list who are Gmail users are in one ad set, and the rest are in another. This means you can set higher bids in the ad set for people on your mailing list who are Gmail users, because you know you’ve primed them with your GSP message, so they might be closer to purchase.

You could even use this segmentation to show your Gmail users a slightly different message on Facebook from the rest of your mailing list, for example if you wanted to offer them a specific incentive.


  • Set up Gmail Sponsored Prmotions targeting your mailing list (learn how here)
  • Create a Facebook Custom Audience using the same mailing list that you used to create your AdWords Customer Match audience
  • Create your Facebook ad set targeting the custom audience, and layer on behavioural targeting for Gmail usersFB Gmail Users
  • Create another ad set in Facebook which targets your mailing lost, but this time exclude Gmail users, and lower the bid on this ad set because this audience has not been primed with GSPs

For example a subscription product such as Graze boxes could be targeting their email list of users who have taken up a free trial of the product but not yet fully subscribed, with both Gmail Sponsored Promotions and Facebook ads.

Take a moment to consider the size of your Facebook audience once you place the Gmail layer over it, as you don’t want it to become too small. In my experience I used a mailing list of over 600k matches on Facebook, and adding the Gmail segment took it down to just 60k. If your audience is too small you’ll struggle to show your ads.

Combine your power of video on Facebook and YouTube to move users through the path to purchase

Combining Facebook video and YouTube video is fantastic for moving users through the path to purchase, because they both reach users at different stages.

When users watch videos on Facebook, they’re probably more likely to be looking for entertaining content, rather than product focussed content. This is natural as they’re scrolling through their feed rather than actively searching for information about products or services.

YouTube on the other hand, is the second largest search engine in the world, where users go not only to be entertained but to be informed with ‘how to’ content and guides as well as cute cat videos.

Using both these platforms together, can help you move your potential customer though the journey to purchase, by showing them nice entertaining brand-centric content on Facebook as your first encounter, and then following it up with more product focussed videos on YouTube where they might be searching for information.


  • Create video ad set on Facebook with an ad featuring entertaining brand content, and tag the landing page URL with UTM parameters
  • Set up a Remarketing list in Google Analytics that includes traffic only from this campaign (based on the UTM tag you gave it)
  • Create a YouTube campaign on AdWords and target users on the remarketing list you have just created, showing them a video ad which is a bit more product focussed

For example Baptise dry shampoo could be running entertaining brand / lifestyle videos such as cuts of their TV ad on Facebook, and then create a list in Google Analytics of users who clicked through from the Facebook video ad, and target those users with ads on YouTube with ‘how to’ style content like this video.

To make this tactic successful, keep your Facebook video short (like 10-15 seconds) for best results, because if it’s longer the user is less likely to watch it through to the end and won’t get the call to action to click through top the site, which means your Google Analytics remarketing list will be very small and you’ll struggle to show your remarketing ads on YouTube.

Use Facebook to uncover new potential buyers and then target these people on search to increase the likelihood of them converting

Facebook is one of the best platforms for expanding your reach and targeting new users who aren’t actually actively looking for your products or services yet. The trouble is, you don’t just want to reach them with your Facebook ads and then leave it up to fate to see if they then eventually turn into customers. By tagging the traffic you get from your new customer acquisition Facebook campaigns, and then targeting those users using Remarketing Lists fir Search Ads on very broad ‘top-of-the-funnel’ keywords, you can increase the likelihood of that Facebook click turning into a new customer.


  • Create a Facebook campaign designed to target new potential customers who you aren’t already targeting with your search ads (for example a 10% lookalike of your existing mailing list but excluding existing website visitors and mailing list members)
  • Tag that campaign with UTM tags so if the user clicks the ads it’ll be recorded in Google Analytics under a particular campaign name
  • Create a remarketing list in Google Analytics which consists of traffic from this particular Facebook campaign
  • Create a search ads campaign which includes very ‘top-of-the-funnel’ keywords, and lots of sensible broad / modified broad keywords (they need to be top of the funnel because you know this audience weren’t specifically searching until you primed them on Facebook, so they’re still in the early stages of the path to purchase)
  • Apply the RLSA list to the ad groups in your search campaign, choosing the target and bid setting (rather than bid only), so that the search ads only show to users searching who are from your list of new potential customers uncovered on Facebook

This tactic is idea for search advertisers who feel like they have exhausted the current search demand in their industry, because it almost creates search demand by reaching users and making them consider your product or service.

Make the list duration of your Google Analytics remarketing list quite long, because the user is so far up in the path to purchase that they are probably going to take longer to convert than your average user who finds you via search.

Create specific ad text for your search ads if the user searching has also been reached by your Facebook ads

Offering a particular audience a promotion that’s exclusive to them is a tried and tested method for tempting them to convert. This is seen particularly on Facebook where brands offer their community specific discount codes to thank them for becoming Facebook fans.

You can ensure your AdWords search ad copy also includes any Facebook specific promotions you’re offering, but only in instances where the person who is searching has also been exposed to that offer via Facebook ads.

This allows you to reinforce your promotion via search, without having to offer it to everyone who might possibly be searching!


  • Create a Facebook ad set that promotes the offer, and tag this ad set with UTM tracking that references the campaign
  • Create a list in Google Analytics that includes traffic from this Facebook ad set (segmented using the UTM tag you created)
  • Create a search ad campaign (or duplicate your existing search ad campaign) which includes ad text that contains an offer or message specifically for your Facebook audience
  • Apply your remarketing list as an audience to that campaign, choosing the ‘target and bid‘ option so it’s secured to only show to users who match your remarketing list when they search
  • Any users who clicked your ad on Facebook promoting the offer will now also see text ads that reference the same offer

Use the accuracy of Facebook’s lookalike targeting for targeting your AdWords ads

Facebook is the don when it comes to lookalike audience targeting. Google are improving in their offerings with the introduction of similar audiences based on your Customer Match list and remarketing lists, but Facebook are light-years ahead in terms of the accuracy and effectiveness of their lookalike audiences, simply because they have so much information about their users. On the other hand, Google is the don when it comes to search. Imagine if you could combine Facebook’s advanced lookalike targeting accuracy alongside Google’s search network. Well now you can!

For example an advertiser who knows they have great success with Facebook’s lookalike targeting could run search ads only to users who are searching and are part of the lookalike audience on Facebook.


  • Create your custom audience in Facebook (if you haven’t already) (learn how here)
  • Create several lookalike’s of this audience in Facebook (learn how here)
  • Run Website ads in Facebook, targeting the lookalike audience
  • Create remarketing lists in Google Analytics based on the UTM tags for the lookalike audience ad set
  • Create a search campaign of ‘top of the funnel’ keywords, because these users weren’t necessarily looking for your product or service yet but are just a bit curious about it after seeing your Facebook ad, so they’re not likely to be searching directly for your product or service yet and are more likely to be searching using top-of-the-funnel keywords.
  • Set the ad groups in this search campaign to ‘target and bid’ (so the user searching must be on your remarketing list which includes the users who visited your site from the lookalike ads you ran on Facebook)

The size of your lookalike audiences will depend on the size of your original custom audience list, so if your list is quite small to start with you might want to start with a higher percentage lookalike which will have more audience members. 1% is the most similar to your audience size and has the least audience members, whilst 10% is the least similar to your original audience and has the most audience members.

Use lots of broad / modified broad terms in your PPC campaign. Your audience is already qualified because they already clicked your Facebook ad and are part of your lookalike audience, so you don’t need to be too prescriptive with your keywords / search queries. You can then optimise search performance later down the line once you’ve gathered data.

If you don’t want to go as far as creating an entire search campaign for your Facebook lookalike audience, you could simply use this to apply bid adjustments to your existing search campaigns (use bid only option when applying the audience).

Use your Google Analytics audience data to decide what audiences to target in Facebook

If you’re new to Facebook ads, you might be wondering where to start with your targeting. You could try testing new Facebook audiences based off your own audience data in Google Analytics.


  • Go to the demographics report in Google Analytics, and segment by converters, so you can see the age and gender of your top converting users
    • When you create your Facebook ads you should then consider putting the top converting age segments into their own ad sets so that you can adjust your budgets and bids for these users who are probably more likely to convert
  • Go to the Interests tab in Google Analytics and again segment by converters, so you can see the top interests of the users who convert on your website
    • When you create your Facebook ad sets test layering these interests on top of each other, or layering them on any wider targeting you’re using

Make this tactic really effective by customising your Facebook ad messaging based on the interests you’re targeting so that it appeals particularly to the audience who are being targeted.

Create Facebook ads that target only users who are highly likely to convert

If you want to test Facebook ads but only with very tight targeting that’s likely to convert, then a great place to start is to find audiences on Facebook who are similar to the existing users who have converted on your website via your other traffic sources.


  • A few weeks before you’d like to start running the Facebook ads, tag your site with the Facebook pixel (learn how here)
  • Create a Facebook custom audience based on website visitors who viewed the ‘thank you’ or final checkout / form page of your site (choose the list duration carefully – if you get loads of conversions you can afford for it to be shorter, but if conversions happen less than 100 per month then you might want to set this for 180 days or so)
  • Once this list has collected a lot of data, you can create a lookalike audience based off of it
    • Start testing a 1% lookalike, then move to a 2% excluding the original 1%, then 3% excluding the 1% and 2% etc
  • You can now use Facebook ads targeted to these lookalike audiences s you know the users should be similar to your existing customers and there for likely to convert

Use Facebook local awareness ads to enhance search campaigns designed to drive footfall

AdWords has a mountain of location targeting options as well as location extensions for search ads, but they’re yet to bring out an ad format that is primarily designed to drive footfall into bricks and mortar stores. I predict it’s only a matter of time before you can bid for a place in the local listings, but until then, AdWords advertisers are left looking for a way to directly prompt users to visit a physical premises.

Luckily, Facebook have invented this ad format in the form of their local awareness ads. These ads are designed to allow the user to click a call-to-action to get directions to the specific local stores.

Using AdWords search campaigns and Facebook’s local awareness ads together will create the ultimate footfall driving campaign.


  • Run AdWords search ads targeting keywords which include the location specific keywords related to your store, for example ‘shoe shop oxford street’
  • Land those users on a page specifically about your store in that location, and make sure the Facebook pixel is also present on that page
  • Create several audiences on Facebook, based on the visitors of each page about your store locations (for example you might have an audience for visitors of the Oxford Street page, the Brighton page etc)
  • Create a local awareness campaign in Facebook, including an ad set for each of your store locations
  • Place the audience for each location page as an audience on each of the ad sets in Facebook
  • Also include location targeting on the Facebook ad sets, so the user must be within a particular radius of your local store
  • The ads will then show to users who have previously visited your site and looked for the store location, but only once they’re near enough to the store to be likely to visit it

The great thing about this is that you don’t need to rely on the user to be searching actively at that moment, they could simply happen to be in town with their friends and then you can remind them that your store is near, because you know they’ve been interested in that store before as they have visited your store location page for it.

Distinguish between B2B searchers and B2C searchers on AdWords by using Facebook’s data

One of the most annoying things about bidding based on keywords rather than audience data, is that you have to make a guess about who the person is tying that keyword. When you offer a product or service that’s only B2B, it becomes even harder to distinguish between B2B and B2C searchers, without missing out on lots of potential keywords.

You can target users on Facebook who are likely to be interested in your service from a B2B perspective, and then use RLSAs to capture them on search, ensuring that the clicks you pay for on AdWords are relevant for your B2B service.


  • Run a wide reaching Facebook ads campaign to business owners, managers and decision makers, with ads about your product or service. Try layering other interest targeting on it which is likely to make the audience relevant. For example if you offered digital marketing services, you might target all digital marketing managers.
    • If you have access to Facebook’s Partner Categories then you can use this to target by job role too
  • Tag these ads with UTM tracking code, so you can easily identify this traffic in Google Analytics
  • Create a remarketing list in Google Analytics consisting of these visitors
  • Create your search campaign (use wider, broad terms as the user is already quite qualified)
  • Apply the RLSA list to the ad groups in the campaign using the target and bid setting

The result is search ads which will only show to B2B searchers because they are on your remarketing list which was created to collect only members who came from your Facebook ad targeting that was based on users relevant job titles.

Hopefully these tactics have given you some inspiration on how you can use Facebook and AdWords together to get the best results. If you have any other ideas for how they can be combined feel free to leave a comment below!

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