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Facebook/Instagram versus Google – Targeting based on intent

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I have been using Adwords for a while, and am relatively new to instagram from a marketing point of view.

I started experimenting on it to promote @fishinguae – one of the brands I manage.

The key difference is the logic of targeting users and the general mechanics of how it works.

Intent vs. Audience Definition

For me personally, I think there is nothing more powerful than jumping in front of someone who is searching a keyword that matches your services.

I think its the lowest hanging fruit in the whole marketing game.

When someone types in for example ‘fishing trips Dubai’ – I don’t care at all about how old he is, where is searching this from or what his hobbies are.

I simply know that he wants to book/know about a fishing trip in Dubai.

There is an overlap of 2 things :

  1. The fact that he likes fishing (or wants to like it)
  2. He wants to do it now

That intersection of timing and intent is bliss.

With Instagram, things are little bit less direct.

There is no intent, only certain parameters that help me find my audience.

I can target my audience quite specifically, and show my ad to them, and hopefully they will follow me.

Over time, eventually, they will want to book a fishing trip, and hopefully remember my business after following us for some time.

Specifically for my fishing charter business, Instagram is an equally amazing platform to Google Ads because it allows me to target males, living in Dubai who like fishing.

I have very quickly converted these impressions into profile visits, into visits and into leads.

However, there are certain limitations – lets say I want to target a British tourist who is planning to come to Dubai in 15 days and looking to book a fishing trip.

Instagram is helpless here.

It has no way of knowing that this person is going to come to Dubai, and targeting fishing enthusiasts all over the world in the hopes that 0.1% of them will come to Dubai is madness.

Audience Hard to Define

The conversion rate of my fishing charter campaigns were very effective, because its an extremely niche audience, which is very clearly defined.

Taking another example – @alexandradhow, a floating restaurant which I manage aswell, defining the audience was much harder, since someone going for a dinner cruise is really not a niche at all.

Outside of using things like ‘Going to restaurants’ as a hobby, and limiting the visitors to Dubai, there isn’t much I can do.

Because the audience is less well defined, the conversion rates were significantly lower.

Once again, targeting someone who will come to Dubai in the future, is not possible.

Overall, instagram is a beautiful tool, and I have a lot to learn in its regard, but I still prefer Google Ads overall.


The very logic for defining your audience differs across these 2 platforms, with strengths and weakness on each side.

Google Ads

  • Works for any business
  • Often low search volume – not enough to sustain campaign
  • Captures user intent, and timing of that intent, and thus has high conversion rates.


  • Amazing for niches that are well defined, fishing, diving, guitar etc
  • Amazing for specific geo locations
  • Does not capture intent

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Your sincerely.

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