Facebook Extends Search Ads Test


Facebook is expanding a test of search ad placements to a wider group of advertisers, per Amy Gesenhues of Marketing Land and several reports from affected marketers. The test has run for six months and given a select group of automotive and retail advertisers the ability to place ads in Facebook’s search results.

Facebook confirmed the initial test, saying it was a “small test” that would be evaluated before future expansion. The test has been expanded to e-commerce advertisers in addition to retail and auto businesses. Steven Johns, a digital marketing consultant for door4.com, shared a shot of the new feature via Twitter.

Facebook has yet to confirm a broader roll-out, but repeated its initial statement, saying, “We continue to test placing ads in Facebook search results and are evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to roll them out more broadly.”

This is a development that we’ve been predicting for almost two years. And while the Facebook search landscape has shifted slightly in the time since, we’ve been monitoring how a search ad environment within the social network could play out for our clients.

This appears to be a win for businesses and advertisers as the Facebook advertising train is showing no signs of slowing down, and any new advertising avenues on the popular network presents massive opportunity. That said, it’s important to note that Facebook isn’t known to its users as a commercial shopping hub, and it could take time for users to adapt to the functionality.

Unlike typical search ads placed on Google or Bing, advertisers are unable to select keywords or phrases for their Facebook search ad campaigns. In the Facebook environment, ads will appear for search queries that signal commercial intent, as determined by Facebook. Ad placement is an unknown at this point, but the ads themselves will feature a headline, image, and copy – similar to the existing News Feed ads.

The expansion of the test is a signal that the participating businesses have seen a degree of success with the new ad opportunities. And it’s reasonable to expect that the broad swath of Facebook users will value a more complete online experience that doesn’t require them to leave the Facebook environment. As Facebook continues to tinker with the product, we expect it to eventually be a major player in the search market. Stay tuned.

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