What We Can Learn from the Death of Facebook’s Sponsored Results

Farewell, Facebook Sponsored Results… we barely knew you. Although these ads were first launched in August 2012, Facebook is decided to pull the plug. In an official statement from Facebook:

In keeping with the goal of streamlining our ad products, starting in July, advertisers will no longer be able to buy sponsored results. We’ve seen that most marketers were buying sponsored results to advertise their apps and games, and we already offer mobile app install ads and page post link ads on desktop to achieve these same goals.

From the very start, there were strong supporters and opponents of having ads in searches. Some said that the ads were destined to fail, while some businesses saw small success from early campaigns. Here are a few things we can learn from Facebook’s efforts:

The Need to Monetize
Like their archenemy, Google, Facebook’ success is based on advertising. Although Facebook is free to use, users can expect some degree of advertising as the price of using the social networking site. The debate comes when asking the question when is there too much advertising? Facebook has seemed to have answered that question because not only were Sponsored Results killing the user experience, but they were failing to monetize these ads effectively.

Listen to Customers
Users were already complaining about inundated with regular Facebook ads. It’s another thing to take that next step and begin to integrate these sponsored advertisements into their social feed and search results.

Advertisers (aka the money makers) were also failing to see the right amount of ROI on Facebook Ads. And this doesn’t just go for small businesses. Big companies like GM have openly commented about how Facebook Ads weren’t a right fit for their marketing mix.

Testing is Important
Facebook’s next step involves developing new and better formats for ads so that they are fully able to take advantage of the new Graph Search. Another reason Facebook’s Sponsored Results didn’t work well as its other ads is that it wasn’t targeted to each specific user but rather, what they happened to type in.

Don’t Be Afraid to Fail
Without trying, you’ll never know what you can achieve. This isn’t a post to toot Facebook’s horn but rather, a takeaway for the complicated world of paid ads. Facebook took a risk with Sponsored Results but knew when to end the ads because they weren’t working out for users or businesses. The key is knowing when to stop and move on to something bigger and better. And as Albert Einstein once said, “You never fail until you stop trying”.

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