Facebook sponsored results: a reminder of your campaign goals

Facebook Sponsored Search
Facebook's search bar results with two sponsored listings.

Back at the tail end of Summer (sorry for mentioning it) Facebook launched Sponsored Results Search ads, giving advertisers the opportunity for their app or page to appear in the search results when a user searches for something similar. If, for example, you launch a new game that you know players of FarmVille will love, then you can promote it at the moment users are trying to find FarmVille to play it – a very targeted, and very valuable niche audience.

40% cheaper app installs

With years of paid search experience yelling at us that it’ll have too low relevancy and users won’t jump ship when they’re already on a path to the app they’re looking for, we were surprised to find that far from being a poor supplement to standard Facebook advertising, it actually performed better at driving app installs than the standard ads. Each app install from the sponsored results was on average 40% cheaper than the standard ads!

suspicions grew

This was surprising although could easily be attributed to the low level of competition on this new ad product compared to the standard ads, and Facebook likely keeping the bids low to entice advertisers to invest more time and budget. However we’re a bit sceptical/ pessimistic/ cynical when things are all too easy in PPC (success only comes from hard work!) So we started looking into the data…

 behind the scenes

Each app install from the standard Facebook ads were being used around 1.3 times – sounds like not very much but at least every install is being used once on average and every third one is being used twice etc. However when we looked at the app installs driven by the Sponsored Search, each app was only used on average 0.4 times – so more than half the apps were never even played!

remember your real goal

In the end, to get users to play the game the Sponsored Search activity was actually twice as expensive compared to the standard Facebook ads. That’s not to say the new ad type should be abandoned – it just needs to be optimised – but all relevant metrics need to be analysed and your campaign objective always kept in mind. Is it really even game plays we’re looking for? Or is engagements on the Facebook page after playing the game a better indication of brand awareness? Also is brand awareness really our goal, or is it actually just cold hard cash in our client’s pocket?


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