• Facebook Ads vs. Google AdWords: Which Advertising Platform Works Best for Golf Courses?

    Kent Ashby  •  May 18, 2016

When it comes to digital marketing for golf courses, two advertising platforms rule the roost: Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. Both advertising giants have proven effective for many businesses in an array of industries, but the question we have is what platform works best for golf facilities?

 This question can be tough to answer in just a few words, as each advertising channel has its own strengths and every golf course will have different marketing goals to achieve. The question that needs to be answered first is “What needs to be accomplished from the advertisements?” In this blog, we will discuss the differences between the two advertising platforms and explain which is the best choice for achieving your marketing goals.

What’s the difference between Facebook and Google ads?

The major differences between these two platforms are their targeting parameters and their ad delivery. While these offerings are very similar to each other in theory, they prove effective for vastly different marketing campaigns.

Facebook is arguably the cheapest form of paid advertising. The average cost-per-click on Facebook is only $0.80, compared to Google’s $2.50. That’s a big difference. It’s easy to look at those numbers and form a quick opinion based on price alone, but if we take conversion rates (% of visitors that turn into customers) into consideration, Google is still an equal contender. Google AdWords’ conversion rates are typically 3-5x better, meaning overall return on investment can be almost even between the two.

Google is a very direct form of advertising, based mostly on the keywords people search for. When people search on Google, they are practically telling marketers what they are looking for. For example, if someone visiting Denver searches “golf courses near Denver airport”, it’s pretty self-explanatory what they are trying to research. Because there is less left to question, Google Search Ads can be very targeted if setup properly.

Facebook, on the other hand, isn’t so cut and dry. Facebook displays ads based primarily on a person's interests, social connections, and demographics. This means that it is very easy to target a specific type of person, rather than targeting based on keywords they search. Because of this, Facebook is great for promoting new products or services, especially when you already know who your ideal customers are.

Which Ad Platform Does it Better?

Increasing Awareness

If you’re a new golf facility in the area or have new offerings that people are slow to catch on to (ie. Foot Golf), you’re probably looking to bring awareness to your business. Facebook Ads outperform Google AdWords for these types on promotions, as Facebook will provide far more exposure for each dollar spent. In addition, users of Facebook are far more engaged with the content on their newsfeed, rather than on Google, making it more effective at grabbing the attention of a potential customer.

Also, people searching on Google already know what they want, for the most part. They are typically looking for a provider of the goods or services they are looking for, which brings us to our next marketing goal – selling tee times.

Winner: Facebook Ads

Selling More Tee Times

This is the most popular goal for public golf courses. Selling tee times via digital ads has tremendously increased in popularity over the last 5 years. Third party tee time providers have been using digital ads to sell inventory with great success, so why shouldn’t the local golf course?

Google AdWords is far more efficient at selling tee times than Facebook, due to the fact that you can target golfers based on the keywords they are searching. Google Search Ads typically target people further down the sales funnel than Facebook Ads, leading to much higher conversion rates, as we stated above. If someone searches “golf courses in Orlando” and they are shown an ad reading “Best Public Golf Course in Orlando”, the chances of that person becoming a customer are much higher, in comparison to Facebook.

Winner: Google AdWords

Growing Membership

Private golf clubs and public courses that offer memberships oftentimes don’t know where to turn to promote their offerings. The good news is that Facebook and Google are both very good options to advertise memberships. Facebook, since it can target users based on their social relationships, demographic, and interests is a great way to introduce potential members to the facility. While Google AdWords is ideal for presenting your website prominently on search engines for those looking to join a golf club.

Winner: Draw

Attracting New Golfers

It can be argued that both platforms can attract new players to a golf facility, but Google AdWords produces results in a much more black and white manner. Those that are new to the game of golf or just new to the area, oftentimes use Google to help make decisions on which course to play. They aren’t searching local golf courses by name, hence why being placed at the top of search engines is so important for keywords like “golf courses nearby”. People aren’t looking for golf courses to play when they’re browsing Facebook, therefore, the ads are not as effective.

Winner: Google AdWords

Educating Customers about Changes

It can be tough to keep customers up to date with different happenings and changes taking place at a golf facility. Especially if you don’t have a strong email marketing database to broadcast to. It can be a cost-effective and worthwhile investment to run small advertising campaigns to make sure your message is heard by your customers. With Facebook’s “Boosted” posts, you can target your customers on social media via their email address, connections, and pages likes for relatively low costs.

Boosting a Facebook post is a very easy, 2 click process and can be done by anyone with admin access to your business’s page. Boosting a post can costs as little as $5, making it affordable for any golf facility.

Winner: Facebook Ads

Booking More Events/Weddings

Weddings and banquets are a large portion of revenue for many golf facilities. While advertising your event space can be a big investment due to high competition, the return is typically well worth it.

Google AdWords is very effective at advertising to those who are already in their search for a venue. Targeting people searching for a local event space is a way to immediately be taken into consideration during the research process.

There is a slightly different approach that needs to take place with Facebook Ads. With Facebook’s platform, you can target users based on life events, such as becoming engaged. Or you can target event organizers and wedding planners.

Both ad platforms have their benefits, in this case, and should be used together to get the best results.

Winner: Draw

Promoting Clinics, Clubhouse Events, Tournaments, etc.

Similarly to educating current customers, advertising to local golfers regarding miscellaneous events taking place at your facility can be accomplished best with Facebook ads. Many of our clients use Facebook ads to promote holiday parties at the clubhouse, group golf lessons, pro shop sales, and more.

Winner: Facebook Ads

What Strategy Will Work For You?

In most cases, a combination of Facebook and Google ads is ideal. Facebook brings awareness to your golf course while Google Search ads are unmatched for driving direct responses. The right strategy for your golf facility is based on the services you offer and the marketing goals you have set.

While Facebook and Google ads are a great place to start, there is a lot more to digital marketing than just these two platforms. If you’re looking to make the most of your business’s internet presence, contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call us at (407) 395-4701. We’re happy to help!

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