Facebook announced the launch of their Sponsored Results search ads API late last night, bringing a month of testing to a close.
The new program allows advertisers to embed ads in the list of type-ahead search results. These ads can target Facebook Pages, Places, Apps, and users who have Subscriptions enabled. These are similar to standard on-site ads with 70-character messages that lead to Facebook Pages or apps.
The ads are a new category of search ads that will appear at the top of user search results rather than mixed with organic results, and are marked Sponsored. Facebook’s announcement simply read, “Sponsored Results is a great way for you to drive more awareness of your app, page or place. We are making an API available for developers to sponsor search results.”
Early reports name the first advertisers in this new format as Disney, Zynga, Marvel, Kixeye, King.com, and dating site Match.com. Few users report seeing the ads, so far.
Users will have the option to hide the ad and indicate whether it was Uninteresting, Offensive, or otherwise inappropriate.
Currently, these Sponsored search ads are not available in France. “Ads created targeting France will return an error,” Facebook wrote in the Developers resource.
Sponsored ads for search will only support CPC bids (Type 1) or Optimized CPM bids (Type 7), for the time being. The minimum bid price if the advertiser is using these ads for an entity they are already promoting in $0.01. For all other Facebook entities, the minimum bid is $0.15.
In a message sent to advertisers and obtained by TechCrunch, Facebook describes their Search as “one of the most used features on Facebook.” They also note that brands are not able to drive traffic off-site using these ads, which is in keeping with Facebook’s mission to keep everyone and everything within their own ecosystem.
Despite some more buzz about Facebook moving further into Google’s territory, these ads are internal to Facebook. When - or if - Facebook makes it possible for their search ads to target entities anywhere on the web, that might be a valid discussion. Currently, they are simply capitalizing on ad space available within a much-used feature of their own.