Facebook is putting ads on search results again after first trying the schtick out in 2012. With this move, Facebook seems to be pitting itself against Google AdWords, which generates extra revenue from ads that appear on Google Search.
Facebook tried Sponsored Results in 2012 but shut it down in 2013. Fast forward to now and it's back at it again, this time with a small set of automotive, retail, and e-commerce industry advertisers. Facebook is allowing them to display ads to users on the search results page and Marketplace on mobile, at least in the United States and Canada.
Facebook Search Ads
These ads will be repurposed News Feed items complete with a headline, accompanying image, copy, text, and a link in the static image or carousel format that will direct users to external websites. Facebook declined to provide screenshots of these new ads, according to TechCrunch, since it says the design is still under development.
Depending on how successful the tests turn out, there's a possibility Facebook rolls it out to other countries beyond the United States and Canada.
"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," said Zoheb Hajiyani, a product manager at Facebook.
Why Is Facebook Bringing Back Search Ads?
Facebook failed to explain why it's bringing back sponsored content in search, but the move could open up a new revenue source for the social media company, which is especially crucial at a time when Facebook's revenue growth is fast decelerating as it runs out of News Feed ad space. Moreover, the Stories format it copied from Snapchat is quickly becoming the de facto method of sharing posts, which advertisers are still trying to adapt to.
While Facebook has become a force of nature, up there with the likes of Google in terms of daily active users and growth, it still needs to find various revenue sources as much as possible. In 2012, for example, the company sought extra revenue streams after its botched initial public offering. That gave birth to Sponsored Results, which let retailers and publishers make their apps, Pages, and posts appear as ads on the Search page.
Will Facebook become the next Google? That's hard to say for now. But time and time again, the company has proven that it'll do everything it can — even hide massive data theft incidents — to make sure it stays on top of the social media landscape.