August 23, 2012, 10:11 AM

Facebook launches search ads

‘Sponsored Results’ can link to Facebook pages or apps, but not to other web sites.

Lead Photo

A view of Sponsored Results

Facebook Inc. has launched an ad format called Sponsored Results that enable marketers to buy ads in search results. An ad can include a 70-character message.

However, unlike search ads on Google and Bing, the ad cannot link to an advertiser’s site, but only to another page or application within Facebook.com.

“We have launched a feature that surfaces sponsored results along with the organic results when people are looking for things on Facebook,” says a Facebook spokeswoman. “We try to show people apps and pages they'll be most interested in.”

Marketers can target pages, profiles, places or applications they would like their ad to appear next to; marketers also can target consumers via their demographics, interests or other information they have shared on the social network.

With the new format, when a consumer located in San Francisco begins to type in the search bar “Jasp” the results present two friends named Jasper, as well as sponsored result for “Jasper’s Coffee House,” which is located in San Francisco.

The ad unit is cost per click, so advertisers will pay every time a consumer clicks on an ad. The minimum bid price is 1 cent for targeting the same page or application that a marketer is promoting in its ad and 15 cents for targeting anything else on Facebook—for instance, if a shoe retailer wants its ad to appear in results for a shopper searching for “shoes.”

The ads appear only in desktop search results pages, not on mobile search results. Sponsored Results also don’t appear on the page that appears after a consumer clicks “See more results.”

In other Facebook news, the Federal Trade Commission today announced it will not block the social network's acquisition of Instagram.

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