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Facebook Tops Search Results with Paid Ads



Facebook’s search engine has driven me mad on numerous occasions. The fact that it only allows me to search for an exact name and not related sites seems counter intuitive. For example, if I search for actor Matt Bomer, I get a list of two dozen fan pages all pretending to be him when what I should get is a page for his series White Collar.

So, it’s interesting, that Facebook is now inserting sponsored ads into the results based on the intent, not the word.

Today, when I searched the word Single, I got a list of apps and pages with the word “single” (including a page called Single Dad Laughing) but I also got an ad for Match.com.

 

My first reaction was, hey Facebook’s search engine can interpret what I mean instead of just throwing my own word back at me. Next, I laughed at the way we’ve all learned to use the word “Sponsored” instead of “Advertisement” because it sounds less spammy.

Then I wondered if these new Sponsored Search Ads could work. As I’ve already pointed out, people don’t use Facebook search to find information, they use it to find a specific entity. But maybe, that’s going to change. If Facebook could start returning more intuitive results, the world could be retrained to search in more general terms.

And can you imagine if Facebook search actually tapped into the page content, not just the title — wowza! That would be a marketing win, win, win. But that’s a silly dream.

What we have right now is the ability to bid for a spot on top of the search results. Currently, it’s just the big boys of gaming Disney Interactive Media Group, Zynga, Kixeye and King.com plus Match.com (which is sort of like a game, isn’t it?) but it appears to be open to anyone with enough bucks to compete.

And did you notice that the results box is wider than it used to be? That suggests an ability to display more ad copy than ever before.

So what do we make of this? Well, I think it’s a step in the right direction, both for advertisers and toward the advancement of a better search tool. Is Google going to worry about Facebook eating in to their search business? Not for a second, but I think it’s kind of cute that Facebook is trying.

(Thanks to TechCrunch for the tip)