Wowd plans to launch Monday a social search tool for Facebook that offers members sort options and custom feeds, game spam blocking, one-click summaries, favorite friends, and social search.
The free downloadable Wowd software client connects to Facebook through an API. It offers three tabs: Web, Social and History. Aside from chat, it supports any function in Facebook such as the ability to update a status or attach a photo, "like" a comment, and send a direct message.
Those who download the client can turn any feed into a custom search or set it up so that keyword-related posts trigger an alert from any friend in the network. The tool, aimed at consumers, will soon integrate other social media data from Twitter and LinkedIn. The effort to tie into social graphs aims to help consumers cut through the clutter and organize the mound of real-time now available on the Web.
When the product launches, users will see ads in the Web tab hot topics and sponsored links that tie into keywords pulled from Wowd's real-time search engine, but will soon have an opportunity to target ads to members in the social tab, too.
Traffic measurement site Alexa estimates that about 35.2% of the global Internet users visit Facebook.com, down from 39% three months ago. Wowd's client gives brands another tool to reach this massive audience.
The ads are tied to the hot topics on pages searched on within the Web tab, but the product roadmap also calls for targeted paid-search ads in the social tab. Wowd will trigger the ads based on search terms and status updates -- a feature that marketers have asked Facebook to provide, but the social site declines to deliver.
Wowd will take portions of the member's Facebook profile, match it with words in the status update feeds and personalize ads. "We plan to experiment by tying ads to topics in conversations and then place them in the conversation clearly marked as ads," says Mark Drummond, Wowd chief executive officer. "The ads must be useful to people."
The move, similar to Digg's latest foray in the social ad space, will provide brands with another social platform to reach Facebook's members.
But tying search terms to ads in the social tab isn't easy, Drummond says. Technically, the site will need to build an n-gram frequency diagram over a set of words. "Finding those with high precision is quite tricky, and we have been spending quite a bit of time trying to get that right," he says.
Wowd will likely base the price of ads on performance, either pay per click (PPC) or cost per action (CPA) -- but it's too early to tell, Drummond says.