Facebook Starts Testing Ads In Search Results

Facebook Starts Testing Ads In Search Results

Facebook advertising continues to grow in popularity and now the social media giant has begun testing ads in its search results, with the testing taking place in both the primary search results and also in Marketplace search results.

But What Difference Does This Make?

Facebook search has remained relatively untapped, which has resulted in advertisers often opting to take their ad budgets over to other platforms such as Instagram. Facebook’s ad testing is so far limited to a small range of retail and automotive advertisers, but there is no reason why this won’t be expanded if the testing yields positive results for the social media giant.

In 2019, according to eMarketer, U.S. marketers will increase the amount spent on digital advertising by 19% to $132 billion. Google will control 36.2% of all U.S. digital revenue, and Facebook will control about 20%.

Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani has said about the new ad tests: “We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it,”

Now, any advertisers who are part of the testing phase are able to select “Search Results” as an ad placement option. This will apply to Marketplace and primary search inventory. As it stands, advertisers cannot select specific phrases or keywords to target, and ads may appear for terms related to auto or retail topics.

The direction is heading in a similar fashion to that of Pinterest, where search behaviours will be integrated into Facebook. It will certainly be interesting to see how this will have an impact on user experience going forward, however it has been stressed that the ads must remain in context with what the user is trying to find.

Facebook search is vastly different to Google, in that people are generally searching for friends, events, pages and engaging content, not necessarily services or products. These new Facebook ads will therefore be more in line with discovering new brands, movies, promoted apps or promoted events for example.

The purpose is a bit more clear-cut when it comes to the Marketplace, where advertisers will be able to offer supplementary information around what the user is looking for.

What else we know so far about Facebook’s search result ad testing:

  • Currently any ads placed in search results during the beta test will only appear in Canada and the U.S. It’s possible that following a successful testing phase that Facebook will open this option to more countries.
  • Static Images and Carousel ads are available during the test. Video ads are not supported at this stage.
  • The clear “Sponsored” tag will continue to appear on these ads. Transparency controls are also available for users viewing the ads, such as the usual “Why am I seeing this?” option.
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