Facebook is introducing a new Search ad product, hoping it will transform into a new revenue stream at a time when its revenue growth is quickly decelerating.
Watch out Google, Facebook is going after a chunk of your business. That could be the headline. Although, let’s be honest, while Search Ads can be a very interesting new product for Facebook, the company is certainly not hoping to dethrone Google.
The new search ads are actually only a test for the moment. They work exactly as you imagine: people type in a keyword in the search bar and promoted results appear first on the list. Yes, just like on Google. For now only a small set of automotive, retail and e-commerce advertisers have access to the beta, in the US and Canada, as explained by Facebook product manager Zoheb Hajiyani:
“We’re running a small test to place ads in Facebook search results, and we’ll be evaluating whether these ads are beneficial for people and businesses before deciding whether to expand it.”
It is not the first time Facebook has explored the possibility to monetize search on its platform. Back in 2012, the company had launched “sponsored results” but the project was quickly shut down in 2013 after it had found many advertisers had been gaming the system.
Facebook’ Search ads feature a headline, image, copy and a link that can point to external websites. Although Hajiyani stated the exact design is still evolving. That certainly is a more complex format than Google’s text only ads.
Search ads could open a new and significant new revenue stream for Facebook. The company has seen its growth stall, and even decelerating in recent quarters.