Get Started ⇢
Get Started ⇢

Google AdWords vs. Facebook Ads: Which Is Best For Multifamily Marketing?

Alex Middel
April 19, 2016

When it comes to apartment marketing, one of the first tactics multifamily properties explore is display advertising. Display ads offer quick results, targeted leads and measurable results.

Here’s the problem. The way that display advertising works today is drastically different from the way it did five years ago. Unfortunately, many multifamily marketers haven’t quite caught up yet.

The first thing you have to understand is that consumers are more adverse to display ads than ever before. That’s why we’ve seen a big upswing in native advertising. Native ads are ads that match the style of the platform they’re on. Think sponsored blog posts or creative videos like this. Native ads are viewed 53% more than banner ads.

As a result, you need to be more tactical with how you implement advertising campaigns. You want to be able to reach rental prospects at different stages of their apartment hunting journey. More importantly, you need to be able to reach them on the platforms they use the most.

That’s where Google and Facebook come in. They currently have the top two display advertising platforms for multifamily marketing - Google AdWords and Facebook Ads.

Why Facebook and Google?

Both Facebook and Google are masters of data, which is what matters the most in online advertising.

Facebook extracts valuable information such as in-depth demographics, interests, career, and education. Google displays their ads based on what people search, allowing your ads to reach renters further along in the apartment hunting process.

On top of that, Google and Facebook account for over a third of the total display advertising market.

 US digital display 2015-2017

The question is, which is best for multifamily marketing?

Google AdWords

Google AdWords is the top choice for paid search, occupying 82% of the market. Having the ability to display ads in search results is huge because 93% of online experiences begin with search engines.

Since Google is typically the first place renters go when they start apartment shopping, your ads are in front of people at the top of the sales funnel.

As renters do more research and narrow down their needs such as a specific area or type of rental, you’re able to reach people at the bottom of the sales funnel as well.

 downtown Austin apartments - Google Search

Your ads aren’t just limited to search results. Google also has a huge network of over two million websites and apps that also display their ads.

Facebook Ads

While Google rules paid search, Facebook is the king of social media advertising. Ninety-two percent of social media marketers use Facebook for advertising.

 Facebook Ads Statistics

Facebook Ads have become even more important since consumers are shifting more towards mobile, which is where Facebook generates 78% of its advertising revenue. Not only that, but one in five minutes spent on mobile devices are on Facebook.

Advertising on Facebook is a good way to reach renters in the middle of the sales funnel. These are the apartment hunters that definitely plan on renting somewhere, but aren’t quite at the stage where they’re ready to sign a lease.

When people at this stage see your ad on Facebook, they’ll be likely to take the next step and tour your community and learn more.

 Watermark Seaport Facebook Ad

Choosing between these two advertising platforms is going to come down to more than just the numbers. Let’s take a look at some of the most important factors that’ll impact your decision.


Facebook’s targeting is unrivaled. As we mentioned earlier, Facebook gathers so much information about users that you can put your ads in front of your ideal renter.

 Facebook Ad Targeting

With Facebook Ads, you can target based on:

  • Location
  • Demographics (age, gender, job title, education, relationship status)
  • Interests
  • Friends of people who like your page
  • Custom audiences 

One targeting feature that’s particularly helpful for multifamily marketers is advanced location targeting. Not only can you target based on where people currently live, but you can also target based on:

  • People recently in a location: These could be people who are considering moving to your city.
  • People traveling in a location: These could be people looking for a temporary place to live in your city.

 Facebook Ads Location

Google’s targeting isn’t quite as robust.

 Adword Targeting

 Adword Targeting 2

Google AdWords lets you target based on:

  • Location
  • Demographics (age and gender)
  • Keywords
  • Device

Although you can’t target as in depth as you can with Facebook, the major benefit of AdWords is its keyword targeting.

One of the biggest differences between advertising on Google and advertising on Facebook is the people that see your Google ads are actively searching for your services. The people that see your Facebook ads are just browsing through funny videos and happen to see your ad because they match your target audience.

Notice the ads that are displayed in the screenshot below when we searched for “apartments in Washington DC”.

 Adwords Search Intent

If your goal is to build awareness for your apartment community, then Facebook is where it’s at. But if you’re looking to attract people actively searching for a new rental, then Google’s keyword targeting is extremely helpful.

Facebook’s Ads vs. Google’s Ads

The way your ads are setup and displayed is different in Facebook and Google. With Facebook, your ads can show up in the news feed, sidebar, or even on Instagram. Google’s ads are shown at the top of search results and through Google’s advertising partners (i.e. on other websites).

However, since people spend about 20% of their time online on Facebook, you have a better chance of getting more eyes on your Facebook ads.

Another advantage Facebook Ads has over AdWords is your ads will look much more organic when they appear in a user’s feed, versus the way they’re displayed on Google. Remember when we mentioned native advertising in earlier? Facebook’s “Suggested Post” feature is a great example of this in action.

This is how Facebook News Feed ads are displayed.

 Facebook Newsfeed ad

Aside from the “Sponsored” text, the ad looks like a normal Facebook post. With AdWords, your ads look a little less native next to organic search results.

 AdWords Ad Example

You might be wondering why this matters. As we mentioned, people generally don’t like online ads. In fact, 54% of people don’t click ads because they don’t trust them, and 33% can’t tolerate them at all.

That’s what made the shift towards social media advertising so popular. Facebook ads feel less “spammy” because they blend in with organic posts smoother.


Cost is one of the most important factors when you’re choosing between Facebook Ads and AdWords. If your ads aren’t resulting in new renters and profit, it doesn’t matter which platform you’re using.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the costs of both networks.

Average Cost Per Click (CPC)

  • Google: $.35 - $5.00
  • Facebook: Less than $1.00

Average Cost Per Thousand Impressions (CPM)

  • Google: $2.75
  • Facebook: $.80-$1.00

Average Conversion Rate

  • Google: 2.35%
  • Facebook: 1-2%

Facebook is cheaper on average. However, there is a lot of variation in Google’s CPC depending on the keywords you’re targeting. Larger cities with more competition tend to result in higher CPC’s, since there are more multifamily properties competing for the same phrases.

 Adwords CPC

Also, Facebook and Google calculate your CPC differently. Facebook determines your CPC based on the performance of your ads. Google determines your CPC (or PPC) based on its Quality Score. The quality score takes into account a variety of factors including:

  • Your keywords
  • Your landing page
  • Quality of your ads

You can lower your advertising costs for both Facebook and AdWords by using retargeting or remarketing.

With Facebook, you can set up retargeting by placing a special pixel on your site that will track each visit. Then, you can create an ad campaign using a custom audience based on the people who have visited your website before. The process is similar for Google.

Since your ads are being shown to people who have been to your site before, you can potentially increase your Click-Through Rate (CTR) and pay less per click.

Website visitors who are retargeted with display ads are 70% more likely to convert.

And the Winner Is...

… It depends. Since multifamily marketing isn’t a straightforward sale, and involves different stages, a mix of both Google AdWords and Facebook Ads is ideal. This way, you’re able to reach people in different stages of the rental journey and get the best of both worlds.

Facebook’s advanced targeting and lower costs make it appealing for multifamily marketers just looking to get their feet wet with online advertising. However, your success is largely dependent on your ability to target the right audience and get a high CTR.

Google’s ability to leverage a searcher’s intent is powerful because you can target prospects based on where they are in the rental journey. The downside is it can get very expensive depending on the keywords you’re targeting and how you manage your ads.

Starting out with paid search will allow you to drive initial interest and get prospects familiar with your property. Then you can shift your budget towards social advertising to nurture leads and close prospects as they get further along in their apartment hunt.

This one-two punch approach will make your ads more effective and ultimately deliver a better ROI.

If you’re ready to get started with social media advertising, but want to avoid wasting money on ads that don’t convert, get in touch. We’re experts in creating targeted social media ads that generate leads, and maximize your ROI.

Subscribe by Email