How Do Facebook Ads Impact Paid Search? (Study)

What impact does exposure to ads on Facebook have on users’ search behavior?

What impact does exposure to ads on Facebook have on users’ search behavior?

Facebook IQ reported on a study by the Facebook Marketing Science team, in which it analyzed 23 conversion lift studies from U.S. campaigns in the e-commerce, retail, automotive, travel, financial services, education, technology and telecommunications verticals that ran from July through September. Its findings included:

  • Roughly one-quarter of the campaigns showed statistically significant gains in search referral traffic.
  • Campaigns showed higher volume, more efficient traffic and more lower-funnel conversions.
  • Campaigns from small businesses had the greatest variance in lift.
  • The average lift in search traffic was 6.3 percent for mobile and 0.9 percent for desktop.


Facebook IQ wrote:

Further, we saw search efficiencies arise from a significant shift in search behavior. People exposed to Facebook ads were significantly more likely to search for more cost-effective branded keywords and, in some cases, less likely to search for more expensive unbranded keywords. Early findings also indicate that efficiency gains can be seen on the search side at higher Facebook paid media weight levels up until a certain point.


Facebook IQ also provided the following takeaways for marketers:

  • Coordinate planning across channels: Coordinate the timing, creative and copy between both search and other digital marketing channels. Aligning your campaigns across search and Facebook can create an opportunity to encourage people to search for brand-related keywords, drive traffic and deliver against lower-funnel business objectives.
  • Measure holistically: As people are spending more time on mobile, marketers could benefit from measuring not only the cross-channel effect across search and Facebook, but also across mobile and desktop. People-based measurement allows marketers to see these cross-device effects clearly. Without it, marketers using third-party models could miss the mobile or cross-device effects, so a multiplier to calibrate results should be considered.
  • Test and evaluate budget reallocation: Varying budgets on digital marketing channels like Facebook could help drive consumer discovery and ultimately search. Different media weights on Facebook may drive greater returns on search.

Readers: What did you think of the study’s findings?