Google vs Facebook Ads for Restaurants

In the culinary world, the battle for diners’ attention has shifted to the digital arena, with Google and Facebook reigning as two of the most potent platforms for restaurant marketing. Both serve distinct purposes: Google captures active intent, while Facebook, along with its subsidiary Instagram, excels in creating awareness and aiding brand recall. 

Understanding the Platforms 

Google, as a search engine, is the go-to resource for users with specific intent. Someone searching for “best Italian restaurant near me” has a direct desire that a well-positioned Google Ad or an optimised Google My Business listing can fulfill. Facebook and Instagram, on the other hand, are more about discovery and engagement. They allow restaurants to tell their story, showcase their ambiance, and engage with their community, which is essential for building brand identity and recall. 

The Power of Google Search 

Google’s search engine is about immediacy and relevance. When a potential diner turns to Google, they’re often looking for a quick answer to an immediate need. For restaurants, this means investing in SEO and Google Ads to ensure that their establishment appears when and where potential customers are searching. 

Google My Business: A Critical Tool 

A well-optimised Google My Business profile allows restaurants to appear in local searches and map packs, which is pivotal for drawing in local foot traffic. It also provides a platform for reviews, which can significantly influence decision-making. 

The Draw of Google Ads 

Google Ads offers the ability to target users based on their search queries, giving restaurants the chance to appear at the top of search results for relevant terms. This targeted visibility is invaluable for capturing high-intent traffic. 

Facebook and Instagram: Masters of Awareness 

Facebook and Instagram are visual storytelling platforms. They are places where restaurants can craft and share a narrative that resonates with their audience. With their sophisticated targeting options, restaurants can reach potential diners based on interests, behaviors, and demographics. 

Engagement and Community Building 

The interactive nature of Facebook and Instagram facilitates engagement through comments, shares, and likes. Restaurants can foster a sense of community, which is crucial for brand loyalty and word-of-mouth marketing. 

Brand Recall Through Visuals and Stories 

Instagram, in particular, is a visual platform where stunning images of food and vibrant restaurant scenes can leave lasting impressions, aiding in brand recall. Facebook’s storytelling capabilities, through posts and live videos, allow for a deeper connection with the audience. 

Advertising on Facebook and Instagram 

Facebook and Instagram ads can significantly increase a restaurant’s visibility and reach. With options for video, carousel, and image-based ads, these platforms are perfect for capturing the attention of users who aren’t actively searching but are open to suggestions. 

Analysing User Intent and Engagement 

Understanding the intent behind users’ actions on both platforms is key. On Google, the intent is transactional and immediate, while on Facebook and Instagram, it’s more about browsing and engagement, which can lead to longer-term recall and eventual patronage. 

Integrating with Other Marketing Efforts 

The most effective marketing strategies use Google and Facebook in tandem. Google captures the immediate need, while Facebook builds the narrative that keeps a restaurant top of mind. Email marketing, loyalty programs, and events promoted across these platforms can create a comprehensive marketing ecosystem. 

Measuring Success 

Metrics for success differ between the platforms. Google’s success is measured by click-through rates, conversion rates, and ROI on ads. For Facebook and Instagram, engagement rates, shareability of content, and growth in followers are more relevant metrics. 


Google and Facebook serve different but complementary roles in restaurant marketing. Google is where a restaurant meets its customers at the moment of intent, while Facebook and Instagram are where the restaurant builds a relationship with those customers, ensuring they come back time and again.