Facebook has recently launched Sponsored Results; its own version of pay per click search ads. The new feature allows businesses to promote their brands by paying to display ads in search results alongside related Apps, Pages and Places. Advertisers who take advantage of the new service can include a link in search results directing users to their own page, app or custom page tab.
These results will be clearly labelled “Sponsored” to let users know they are looking at a paid for ad.
Users can also choose to ‘hide’ certain ads by simply clicking on the ‘x’ in the top right hand corner. This launches a pop-up window with a message enquiring why the user would prefer to hide the ad (options include “uninteresting”, “offensive” “misleading”, etc.)
As it stands, companies do not have the ability to drive Facebook searchers offsite using this new product. However, these ads do have the ability to appear further up the search results than the organic results for any given search term. As you can see from the example below, a search for “OKCupid” triggers a Sponsored ad for competitor Match.com, which appears at the top of results, before any mention of OKCupid.
So...will it be worth trying?
Just like any new Facebook ad functionality, we’ll have to wait and see. The social network certainly has it work cut out if it wants to challenge Google Adwords. As other commentators have noted, Facebook users don’t tend to use the site to search for information – they use it to find specific pages that they already have in mind. For example, a user might use Facebook search to find the official page of a hotel they’ve already stayed at, but if they wanted to look at a wide choice of accommodation options within a particular region, their first port of call would almost certainly be Google!
With such a huge competitor to take on, it seems Facebook may need to tweak its search functionality before it becomes a truly attractive proposition to online advertisers. What are your thoughts on Facebook PPC ads? Will you experiment with them to promote your hotel?