In a bold move, Facebook has begun testing its first search ads called typeahead. These are sponsored ads that are placed in the results when you search for a specific search term. An example of these would be a gaming company that is competing with Zynga could target the search for CityVille, a game of Zynga’s, and have an ad for their own game show up next to the organic results. Is this a good move for Facebook?
How does Typeahead work?
These sponsored results will appear in the normal organic results looking identical to the other results except for a little word “sponsored” marking it. These ads are likely to be pay per click and able to be targeted at any page, app, place, or event. It is however important to note that these are not keyword ads, you cannot pick broad search terms like “beach” or “Mobile Marketing”. The targeted entity has to exist on Facebook. You can refine the audience for your ad, for example a search for “CNN” could be shown to only 20-40 year old men who like golf. You will not feel pressured to buy something that you don’t want as these ads really appeal the most strongly to competitors. A search for Starbucks may show an ad for Bigby’s Coffee.
Is Typeahead right for you?
These sponsored results will work great for those many, but not all. Aimed at a specific market of people selling products or games, Typeahead offers the opportunity to gain traction with the new mobile marketing tool. These sponsored results are not as much in your face as the pay per click Google ads, so they may have a much less negative reception.
Other Facebook Ads
The preexisting ads on Facebook seem to be ignored by most; however there are those out there that find them useful. If Facebook has the data to run off, if can find things for you that you may be interested in. There are even hints at Facebook targeting mobile marketing ads by app usage.
For example if you play a lot of Words with Friends by Zynga, you may ads linking to other games by Zynga. It does this by tracking your login to the game as you use the Facebook Connect feature to open the game.
The ad type Sponsored Stories are now able to be mobile only, which is great for mobile marketing strategies. You didn’t used to have any control over where your ad was shared, but now you do.
There is also another ad on the block called Facebook exchange. Ideally when you visit a site and spend time looking at a product, yet didn’t make the purchase, that site could flag you, follow you to Facebook, and offer a very specialized ad just for you on that product. Let’s say I was looking at Amazon for some of the new Nexus 7 Accessories, Amazon could then send data over so that when I then move on to Facebook I will see ads targeting Nexus 7 accessories. This would very useful when it comes to a mobile marketing campaign.
What does Facebook gain from Typeahead?
Facebook has been trying to monetize their site for a long time with a decent amount of success. By adding in this function they could add in a very substantial revenue stream to their company. This could be very beneficial in making their slumping stock prices look more like an opportunity.
I feel that this move is brilliant and will ultimately help the company. They have stated that this is just a test and they are currently looking for feedback on Typeahead to see what users think. They are not going to just cram it down our throats. I am not against seeing competitors’ products when I am searching for something, in fact this promotes competition and stronger products.
Mobile marketing is a large part of advertising campaigns now and days. Facebook has some very strong ad options already, but the new Typeahead looks to be promising. By targeting competitors’ products in the Facebook search you can divert users that are interested in the product, but may not know about your brand. This could help underdogs use large brand names to bring in customers. Competition is what keeps a market healthy and keeps quality products coming and this feels like one more addition to that front.