Facebook Buys a Company That Could Solve an Annoying Online Ad Problem

No more messages about products you already bought

Facebook is buying a company that could help it solve an age-old online advertising problem—the one that keeps showing people the same ad even after they bought the product. It's the kind of ad that shows up after someone searches for clothes and accessories, and then the relevant ad appears on some other Web page.

Well, Facebook just bought The Find, an e-commerce search engine with technology that is meant to help make the social network's ads more relevant. "TheFind's talented team has built a successful search engine that connects people to products," Facebook said in its announcement today. "Together, we believe we can make the Facebook ads experience even more relevant and better for consumers." 

The Find was an early entrant into e-commerce, founded in 2005. It crawled retailer websites and delivered search results for people shopping online. Facebook will shut the site down, but incorporate its technology into its advertising services.

"We are now starting our next chapter by combining forces with Facebook to do even more for consumers," TheFind said in its statement regarding the deal. "Facebook's resources and platform give us the opportunity to scale our expertise in product sourcing to the over 1 billion people that use the platform … Unfortunately, this means we will be taking our search engine offline."

The price of the deal was not disclosed. 

A source with knowledge of the deal said that Facebook would embed TheFind into its advertising to help retarget retail ads with more relevance. "This will help eliminate redundant ads," said the source. "Say you're looking at a pair of jeans on the Gap's website. You won't see those ads after you buy them."

This is a common source of irritation for online shoppers, and one that marketers have been trying to solve with better retargeting tools.

TheFind will help Facebook serve ads to people that had been browsing for products online and show them relevant messages when they are back on the social network, the source said.

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