Burnett will help drive efforts for the tools that people use to create and run ad campaigns on the social network site. He reports to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who left Google in 2008 after six years at the company supporting online sales channels for both AdWords and AdSense.
The argument among industry experts has been that some activity on Facebook helps to catch people in search cycles a bit further in the funnel, according to Danny Sullivan, editor in chief at Search Engine Land. "The Google and Facebook apps are similar in the sense they both allow a short message post," he says. "The difference is they tend to show up more textually, based on the information the person sees and the information in the person's profile."
Tapping expertise from an ex-AdWords Googler who understands how people handle search advertising could give Facebook the boost it needs to build a better platform, Sullivan says.
David Gould, president at Resolution Media, says the move shows that Facebook is serious about doing a better job of monetizing the site. "With Sheryl Sandberg and now Grady Burnett leaving Google for Facebook, the hope is we'll start to see more Google-like ad opportunities from Facebook," he says. "The key is to create a more commercial mindset for Facebook users. Reaching consumers at the moment of relevance is what makes Google so powerful for marketers."
The sentiment on the shift has been pretty much unanimous. Ex-Google employees can help build Facebook's ad platform into a much more powerful tool for advertisers. David Szetela, owner of Clix Marketing and host of PPC Rockstars, calls the front and the back ends of the Facebook platform "primitive" compared with Google AdWords.
"Advertisers need better tools for organizing and managing the structure and content of ad campaigns," Szetela says. "They need to use a variety of ad media types, such as text, static banners, animated banners and video. They need to generate detailed, flexible reports to optimize campaign performance."
Szetela says if Facebook can achieve "superior targeting" and serve up tightly defined demographic ads focused on behavior, demographics and lifestyle, they could significantly boost ad revenue.