Facebook Testing Ads, Reviews, Drilling Down Search

The folks at Facebook have been very busy both figuring out how to monetize Graph Search, as well as making some interesting functionality improvements,

Beginning the process of monetizing Graph Search likely comes as a welcome addition for Facebook investors.  Facebook is starting off in a very limited way with their first search ads, in that they are not targeted to what the user is searching for.  Instead they are simply using the standard targeting and retargeting methods used in other Facebook advertising.  The ads appear at the bottom of the page and only if there are multiple pages of search results.  These ads are targeted like other Facebook ads, based on the user’s age, gender, location, employer, Likes, as well as retargeting based on other sites the user has visited.

A much more powerful option for advertisers would be allowing them to target specific keywords that users might search on.  These specific lower funnel keywords would be much more valuable to advertisers and could allow Facebook to command a much higher rate.  Users who are searching and trying to make a buying decision would be served up relevant ads from businesses who have purchased those specific keywords in a geographic region.  Perhaps Facebook will move in this direction in the future with Graph Search.

The new option to drill down and refine your search was unannounced, as the new right-side menu suddenly began appearing.   I really like the new feature, as it not only makes life easier on the user, it also prompts them to find additional people or businesses that might be relevant to them.  Clearly Facebook is exposing more of their search graph to the user, so they can visualize the drill down opportunities.  In addition to drilling down, the user is also prompted to Extend This Search, by finding photos or videos from these places, or determining what friends visited them.

How can dealers maximize their opportunities with this new search drill down?  Make sure they are categorized correctly, have a large number of Likes on their business page, and have their location properly coded (see my prior articles on preparing for Graph Search).

The bad news for the automotive industry is that if the user simply searches for Places with no category chosen, there are no relevant categories in the drop down menu.  They would need to enter something like “car dealerships” or “oil lube & filter services” in the top Graph Search box.  Perhaps that too will change in the future, let’s hope so!

It is unclear exactly how the star ratings that appear next to some of these very popular venues are calculated.  I ran a few comparisons of venues on Yelp and Foursquare, and based on the large number of non-matches, they’re not republishing them.  It looks like they may be based on Likes, check-ins, mentions, and general PTAT (“People Talking About This” Facebook’s algorithm on unique users who have created a “story” about a page), since only very popular places show star ratings.  This would be similar to Foursquare’s algorithm, based on Likes, Check-ins, popularity, loyalty, and local expertise.

If in fact the Facebook reviews are an internal algorithm, dealers truly need to ramp up their social efforts.  Dealers will need to find new ways to increase Likes to their business pages, as well as increase engagement such as check-ins and other PTAT activities.

The Facebook Graph Search team will continue to refine this very important new tool, both adding to the functionality, as well as creating new options to monetize with advertisers.  I’ll continue to monitor it closely, and share my findings.

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