Facebook widens Sponsored Results test, makes search ads available through API and Power Editor

Facebook is expanding its test of search-based ads today by making Sponsored Results available through the Power Editor tool, according to an update received by some of the social network’s partners. We’ve also confirmed that Sponsored Results have been added to the Ads API.

Sponsored Results allows businesses to buy ads in the typeahead search results, which the company calls “one of the most used features on Facebook.” Advertisers target exact pages, profiles, places or apps they want to show up next to, rather than bidding on keywords or phrases. Advertisers can also layer on Facebook’s demographic, interest and category targeting.

Sponsored Results can lead to an app or page, including custom tabs, but they cannot link directly to sites off-Facebook, unless that site has integrated Facebook. The ads can include a short promotional message, as seen below. The unit is not yet available to users in France.

Facebook’s search ads, announced in beta last month, are one of the social network’s most aggressive monetization efforts. The structure of the program intensifies competition among businesses on the platform. If early tests show the ads are effective, it may get eventually get to a point where businesses will have to pay for Sponsored Results just to ensure they aren’t being overshadowed by competitors.

Beta partners Match.com, Zynga, EA, Disney Interactive Media Group, King.com and Kixeye all seemed to be bidding on each other’s apps. For example, when users search for Zynga’s Farmville, they may see results for EA’s SimCity Social and Kixeye’s Battle Pirates. Match.com was serving ads to users who searched for Instagram, Pinterest and other top apps on the platform. Often times the sponsored result will appear above the organic listing, but in other cases users will see a “top hit” before an ad.