What does Facebook’s new search ads option mean for your brand?


James Kenny

Head of Programmatic


Industry News

This week, Facebook announced that it is going to be extending its advertising options, allowing brands to place ads in the ‘search’ function across Facebook, and Facebook Marketplace. It’s currently being tested on a small set of advertisers in the US and Canada and will be rolled out worldwide if deemed to be beneficial to users and advertisers.

This is not Facebook’s first venture into placing ads on ‘search’; the company launched a similar service in 2012, before discontinuing it a year later. However, this latest version is much softer; rather than allowing brands to directly ‘steal’ searches carried out for competitors, those who have access to this function will simply be able to select ‘search’ as a placement for existing ads (much like they would select Facebook Audience Network now).

So, what does this mean for your brand?

Currently, it’s down to Facebook whether or not you can use this option. If you’re one of the companies included in the trial, you might be wondering if you should give it a go. As with all tests, it’s worth approaching with caution, but we feel that it is worth trialling. For one, you don’t need to make new ads – just select “Search Results” as a placement while setting up your standard single-image and carousel Facebook ads (video is not supported yet). This means a wider ad reach, with no extra effort. It’s also likely that, while Facebook is rolling out the test to users, that cost per click will be low; advertising in Messenger went through a similar process, and we saw good results at little costs for clients while using it in the testing phase.

The benefits of Facebook search ads differ depending on whether you appear in its primary search results, or in Marketplace search results. However, at this time you are unable to differentiate which your ads will be placed.

Appearing in Facebook’s primary search function

Most Facebook users will use the primary search function to find events, friends or brands – not to buy. Any ads placed here could be used as a brand-building opportunity, rather than activity aimed at driving conversions and sales. Ads intending on achieving social engagement or building your following are likely to work better here than ads which are very promotional or sales-focused.

Facebook Marketplace

Placing ads in Facebook Marketplace’s search function is a great opportunity for brands hoping to get sales, as users are already looking to buy. While you can’t currently target keywords in the same way as other PPC campaigns, it’s likely that Facebook will identify intent signals and match up the advert with the right audience.

Paid media is getting increasingly more competitive, and new streams like this are an exciting opportunity for the team and our clients to get in front of potential customers in different ways. We’re looking forward to testing out Facebook’s new function and seeing how it compares to other types of paid search. If you’d like to keep up to date with our work, as well as industry news and insights, you can sign up to our newsletter here.

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