It looks like Google may have a new competitor in the advertising market. This competitor is not like Bing or even Yahoo!, this is a competitor that has a huge community of loyal and active members. Any guesses? The answer is Facebook. Believe it or not, Facebook is currently testing out a new type of search advertising on their website. This new search ads service is called ‘Sponsored Results,’ and it is designed to allow advertisers to display their advertisements within the Facebook search bar so that users who are searching for specific Pages, Apps and Places will see their ads while they are typing. It will essentially allow companies to gain traffic from one another.
For example, an up and coming beverage company may decide to target Snapple beverages so that anyone who searches for the Snapple page on Facebook will see an ad leading to the competing beverage company displayed beside the organic search result that leads to Snapple’s Facebook page. Sponsored Results may potentially bring in a large amount of advertising dollars.
At first glance, any Sponsored Results that show up will appear identical to any of the organic results that appear in the search box that appears at the top of every page on Facebook. The only way to distinguish them is via a marking that says “Sponsored” in extremely small type.
According to Facebook, Sponsored Results can be purchased on a pay per click basis. They can also be targeted to individuals who are searching for virtually any business, Page, Place or app without needing to first obtain permission from that business. The test is starting tonight, so head over to Facebook and take a look.
Sponsored Results do not work the same way as keyword ads do. Advertisers need to choose a specific business on Facebook, such as “Mafia Wars,” “Snickers,” or “Hollywood Tans.” Sponsored Results will only appear in the typeahead, and will not show up on the page which displays the full Facebook Search results. That is due to a deal with Microsoft that is still in place that allows Microsoft to place their advertisements below search results on the Facebook Search results pages. This new Sponsored Results campaign indicates that Facebook is moving farther away from their former business model and will soon be offering their own platform for advertising via search.
One thing to note about these ads is that they cannot direct users off-site, and must direct users to another page within Facebook. It could be an individual post, a Facebook Offer coupon, a widget designed to collect contact information, a contest app – the sky is the limit so long as the content the ad directs the user to is on Facebook. Advertisers can choose more than one entity to target, and can also refine their ads to be shown to those who are in a certain geographical area, those who are in a certain demographic, or those who like strawberry ice cream – again, the sky is the limit here.
If Sponsored Results are here to stay, it is certain that wise advertisers who jump on board quickly will benefit greatly.