Two weeks ago Facebook added a new product to their advertising suite, Sponsored Search. We've just started using testing this for one of our clients at Cake.
It's still early days. It lets marketers target users searching for specific apps, Pages, and Places and insert a link into the typeahead results that points to their own app, Page, custom Page tab, or post. Businesses cannot direct users off-site with the ads yet, though they can appear above the top organic result making them powerful for diverting traffic from competitors.
Facebook is getting aggressive with the ad placement. Sponsored Results can appear above the organic result for what a user was obviously looking for. For example, a search for youthful dating service “OKCupid” returns a Sponsored Result for Match.com’s app above the organic result for OkCupid’s Page and office Place. This could be a powerful way for games and apps to redirect traffic from competitors with products appealing to similar audiences.
While these will 'help' people discover new apps and content, I don’t see Sponsored Results as a big improvement to the user experience. Then again, they’re confined to search typeahead, so I see them as much more benign and in-line with Facebook’s business philosophy than the new non-social news feed ads for app developers and Page owners. Those could dilute the feed’s quality, which is core to Facebook’s value to users.