Facebook added search advertising to its ad arsenal last week, with the launch of Sponsored Results. The ads appear at or near the top of search results for desktop searches and are marketed as “sponsored.” Marketers can use Sponsored Results to direct users to a specific Facebook app, group, event, place or brand page.
How do Sponsored Results stack up so far compared to other ad formats on Facebook?
While it is early days, Facebook ads specialist Nanigans on Thursday released some initial results that bode well for the search ads. Compared to the Marketplace ads that run in the right column, Nanigans found that Sponsored Results delivered 23 times higher click-through rates (CTR) and 78% lower cost-per-click (CPC).
Nanigans co-founder and CEO Ric Calvillo said the CTR for Sponsored Results in some instances exceeded 3%. MarketPlace ads typically have miniscule click rates. Nanigans also looked specifically at the effectiveness of the new format when it came to app installs, since it promises to be a popular way for developers to promote apps on Facebook. In that vein, Sponsored Results had 14 times higher installs than MarketPlace ads.
“Our early results show users find these placements very engaging,” said Calvillo, whose firm has added the ability to buy Sponsored Results through its Ad Engine platform. However, the firm acknowledged that its findings are skewed by the small sample size of campaigns and newness of the Sponsored Results.
Other ad and analytics firms, including Ampush Social and PageLever, have seen CTR between 0.5% and 1%, and 0.8% and 2% so far, according to an Inside Facebook post Wednesday.
Unlike search ads on Google or other search engines, Sponsored Results aren't based on targeting keywords or keywords strings in the search box. Brands can layer on Facebook targeting to serve ads based on demographic, interest, location and other criteria. Advertisers buy Sponsored Results directly through Facebook's Power Editor or the Facebook API, and pricing work the same as for Marketplace ads.
With Sponsored Results, advertisers can also bid for placement against searches for competitors, similar brands, or popular apps or pages on Facebook. Given the currently haphazard search experience on the site, a recent report by digital agency 360i suggested Sponsored Results will give marketers more control over their brands in search, while Facebook works to improve its natural search algorithm.