Facebook Relaunches Search Ads As Small Test In U.S., Canada

Facebook on Tuesday confirmed the relaunch of its search ads in search results across the marketplace.       

The “small” test is open to select advertisers in automotive, as well as retail and ecommerce industries. The ads will be served to people in the United States and Canada for now, but could expand to other countries, based on the results.

“We're running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results and we will be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it,” wrote Zoheb Hajiyani, product manager, Facebook, in an email.

The ad option, which should offset slowing revenue, would directly compete with paid-search ads in Google Ads.

The majority of Facebook’s revenue comes from advertising, but in third-quarter 2018, revenue at Facebook grew just 33% year-over-year, compared with 49% in the prior year and 59% in the third quarter of 2016.

Consider: In 2019, U.S. marketers will increase the amount spent on digital advertising by 19% to $132 billion. Google will control 36.2% of all U.S. digital revenue, and Facebook will control about 20%, according to eMarketer.

Advertisers select a Search Results placement in Ads Manager. Ads run as an additional placement for their News Feed campaigns, similar to how they can select Instagram or Audience Network.

Only one ad will be served per search. The advertisers in the test are not paying for the placements, which is typical for Facebook’s ad model. If Facebook did charge for the ads, the pricing would be similar to other ads running in Ads Manager. For now, advertisers just check the box to include their ad in search results.

The search ads are triggered by searches related to auto, retail and ecommerce topics. Facebook declined to provide information on those terms, whether the triggers are based on branded or non-branded words or phrases that influence what will serve up in the feed or marketplace.

The ad format is similar to News Feed ads. It includes the same headline, image and copy text as News Feed.

For now, the ad formats that serve in search results are static images and the carousel format.

Facebook will clearly label the ads with a “Sponsored” tag, as well as offer users the same transparency and controls to determine why they see the ads they do.

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