Is Facebook Getting Into the Paid Search Game? What You Need to Know.

By Justin Day & Carole Malcolm in Direct Marketing on August 11th, 2016

Facebook getting into the paid search game

Is Facebook trying to be like Google? With 2 billion searches per day, we could eventually see paid search come to Facebook, said Mark Zuckerberg at the latest quarterly earnings call. Let's take a quick look at why information-seeking on Facebook is becoming a major thing, and what opportunities paid search could present for clients on the social platform.

Search Volume is There for Facebook Paid Search Ads

With 1.1 billion daily active users, Facebook reports that they now see 2 billion searches every day. In a recent earnings call, Zuckerberg said they are looking at advancing search as a major focus of core services on the platform.

As queries grow, even more opportunities will open up for advertisers. While traditional ads have been focused around news feed posts and right-rail ads on desktop (which helped drive $6.4 billion in revenue last quarter, exceeding analysts’ expectations), paid search on Facebook will likely be an entirely different animal compared to Google or Bing.

emarketer facebook users chart

Facebook Search Engine’s Advertising Potential

Keep in mind that people primarily search for other people on Facebook. However, with now 2.5 trillion posts on Facebook, the density of information on the network is rapidly growing as well. With Facebook’s semantic Graph Search, users can search within a curated feed of friends, interests, and friends’ interests, as well as the endless amount of news and content across the entire network, including nearby businesses and events. This is where Facebook search can blossom. Convincing users that the information they want can be reliably found in the search box above their news feed, versus using Google, Bing, or even Twitter (for the latest news) will significantly increase the commercial viability of Facebook search.

Triggering Ads in the Facebook Search Engine

What we don't know is just how paid search will look, given the different approach Facebook seems to be taking. Should someone search “best restaurants,” it seems reasonable to have a few sponsored listings at the top of results, similar to our mock ad screenshot below. Other features could include analyzing human behavior to recognize “commercial intent” before showing ads, says Zuckerberg. In contrast to the traditional auction-style keyword bidding system on Google or Bing, the platform could end up being more of an opt-in for advertisers, with a mix of some keyword targeting capabilities.

Paid search Facebook


Search ads on Facebook likely won't be available anytime soon, as Zuckerberg has cautioning that roll out for these features will take some time.  However, we can  assume that Facebook search will eventually play a significant role in how ad dollars are spent within social media, creating a myriad of opportunities to introduce paid social to businesses and clients already benefiting from paid search.

Have you considered how to capitalize on social search behaviors? Share your thoughts in the comments below!