Facebook Testing Sponsored Results In Search Bar

By David Cohen 

Facebook continues to focus on advertising revenue by testing new offerings, with the latest addition coming in the form of sponsored results, which take advantage of the social network’s search bar by allowing advertisers to take over the “typeahead.”

TechCrunch was the first to report on sponsored results, which Facebook began testing Thursday night, and the social network told TechCrunch the results will be identical to organic search results, other than being labeled as sponsored.

Facebook told TechCrunch sponsored results will be sold on a cost-per-click basis, and they can be targeted to users searching for any page, application, place, or possibly event, without the permission of the targeted businesses. The company said in a statement to sister blog Inside Facebook:

We are currently testing a feature that surfaces sponsored results along with the organic results when people are looking for things on Facebook. We try to show people apps and pages they’ll be most interested in.

TechCrunch pointed out that advertisers seeking to use sponsored results must specify specific business or pages, rather than general terms, adding that the results will only appear in the typeahead, and not on the search results page.

On the topic of not needing permission from the targeted businesses, TechCrunch offered the example that a game developer could target a Zynga game with a sponsored result directing users to its own game.

In addition, according to TechCrunch, sponsored results can only direct users who click on them to destinations on Facebook, but those destinations are not confined to pages, as apps, specific posts, offers, or other widgets can be chosen, as well.

And Facebook’s ad-targeting criteria can be applied, with TechCrunch offering the example that a sponsored result buy that taps CNN as the target can be delivered only to women aged 30 to 50 in San Francisco who like Barack Obama.

Readers: If Facebook decides to roll out sponsored results, do you think they will be effective?

Screen grab courtesy of TechCrunch.