Facebook: Return of the Search Ads
You may recall some years ago Facebook’s efforts to directly compete with the mighty Google through the launch of their own version of Search Ads. Way back in 2012, the social giant allowed users to place results in their search results. While it wasn’t possible then to direct users off of the social network, it allowed business owners to promote their app, page or place for increased awareness above the organic results. While similar to Google, without being able to drive users off site it was never going to be a direct competitor. Similarly, the search behaviour between Facebook and Google didn’t lend itself to be as effective - how many times did you search for information on Facebook on, well, anything over a search engine back then? Most users felt the same and the format was ultimately pulled in 2013.
Fast forward to present day, social media and its users behaviour have come a long way. It’s commonplace now to scroll through your Facebook feed to see your friends asking for a recommendation of a good plumber in the area. Now, social media is all-encompassing. Users rely on it to stay up to date with not only the latest content but seek information. Now, the information they search for is far from comparable with Google for the time being, with most results focussing on a friend’s name which doesn’t bear much relevance for advertisers. However, it’s not too much to assume that, with the increase in users seeking information from peers, this will be an area that Facebook is looking to capitalise on as fast as they can, while remaining faithful to their core purpose.
With this, Facebook has now announced that they will be relaunching their Search ad format on a trial run to select mobile users in the US and Canada capitalising on a new revenue source to battle their slowing figures as it runs out of news feed space. No visuals have yet been released from Facebook, but it’s understood that one of the key differences from their 2012 venture is that advertisers will now be able to direct users off-site through ads in a similar format of their traditional newsfeed ones. At the moment, these will be in the form of static ads which can be added as a placement from Ads Manager, similar to selecting ad servings on the Audience Network for example. For the moment, no video placements will be allowed and, while it seems this release will be more complex than Google’s offering, the initial test results will no double lead to refinements before it’s opened up to the wider market.
After a testing year of security and privacy scandals for Mr Zuckerberg, will this be the release to reinvigorate the platform and give Google a run for its CPC? Time and tests will tell, but certainly, one to watch.
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