Facebook Ads & Search: When Worlds Collide

The rise of Facebook ads is having a profound impact on the performance marketing ecosystem. Facebook is now the most visited website in the U.S., with more visits than Google, according to Experian Hitwise. The social network is also projected to take in more than $2 billion in advertising revenue in 2011, according to eMarketer.

As Facebook becomes a bigger platform for advertisers, more players are emerging to help marketers make sense of how to use this new form of advertising most effectively.

Advertising on Facebook looks and feels a lot like search and performance-based display. It’s biddable on a CPC or CPM basis, and can be targeted to specific audiences. Marketers can choose how much to bid for specific audience segments and based on their ROI goals.

Click-through rates (CTRs) on Facebook have been widely discussed, with some reporting better results than seen with some types of display, but not nearly as strong at CTRs witnessed on search.

This leads to a few basic questions for search marketers: Is Facebook more like search or display advertising? Who should advertise on Facebook? How do I judge Facebook performance relative to other media channels?

1. Who Should Advertise on Facebook?

This is an easy question to answer on the face of it: Everyone should advertise on Facebook. Just like paid search, you only show your ads to your target audience and only pay when they click on your ad.

Why wouldn’t a company choose to advertise on Facebook? There are legitimate reasons and most revolve around effort versus reward tradeoffs.

Based on your demographic or geographic targeting, the number of customers generated on Facebook might not be worth the effort. Lots of work goes into successful Facebook campaigns, so scale is important to making the effort worthwhile.

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