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Facebook Sponsored Results: Ads for Search

By | 09.18.12
Facebook Sponsored Ads
Facebook is starting to play in Google’s sandbox now.

Facebook users (and advertisers) may have recently noticed something if they’ve done a search on Facebook. In addition to the standard set of search results, there is now a “Sponsored” section that displays ads. Facebook calls this product “Sponsored Results”, and they’re currently allowing advertisers to create these ads through Power Editor and their ad API.

This move could be a major plus for advertisers, as it provides an opportunity to display an ad based on a user’s actual (and active) intent. I got in touch with Facebook’s marketing solutions team to find out more about how these ads will work.

Forget Custom Ad Text

For now, at least, Facebook’s Help Center says that the advertisement will pull content directly “from the sponsored object (ex: Page, app, group or event name) and cannot be customized at this time.” There’s some wiggle room there, as you can create groups or events customized around an ad, but you’ll have to be aware of this limitation when trying to advertise a page.

No Keyword-Level Bidding

In response to my inquiry, Facebook said that the campaigns will allow you to “select your keywords for targeting purposes, but the bidding doesn’t work on specific keywords.” Keywords on Facebook aren’t quite the same as they are on search engines. Instead of choosing individual words like “shopping” or “advertising”, you’ll target “Entities” like “”. Your ads would appear only when a user’s search string brought that entity up in the results. Instead of building keyword lists, you’ll have to test keyword searches on Facebook to determine which entities appear for those searches. You can use that information to target your campaigns. Also per their response, bidding will work via “CPC and Optimized CPM only.”

No Medals for Fourth Place

The obvious question on any advertiser’s mind is, “How many ads will they show in the results?” Facebook provided an answer on this as well. “The maximum number of ads we will show is 3, including self-sponsored ads. The maximum number of organic results we will displace is 2.” Given the ability to target campaigns, this could become an extremely competitive space for advertisers.

This development should finally give advertisers what they really want on Facebook. Rather than trying to catch the attention of a passive audience, these new ads will allow them to target people who are actively looking for specific kinds of content.


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