Advertisers are still trying to figure out how Facebook's new Graph Search product -- which produces search results based on what your friends likes and interests are -- will help or hinder them.
We noted on the day it was launched that it made the gathering of Likes newly valuable. Businesses with more likes will show up more prominently in searches than those with fewer.
That's rewarding for advertisers who have lots of likes, many of whom paid for those likes by buying ads encouraging fans to follow their pages. Until now, those likes had little immediate value.
Now that the dust has settled, we asked a bunch of ad execs who do business with Facebook to tell us what they really think of Graph Search.
The reactions ran the gamut: outright skepticism to enthusiasm to those whose reactions could be summed up as "meh."
Here's what they told us:
Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG Digital: "I stand by what I have said previously – that the mindless pursuit of likes on Facebook is stupid. However, Graph Search makes the pursuit of likes not mindless, especially for some categories of clients. Restaurants, bars or coffee shops for example will want to appear further up when people search for things which are nearby – and so having connections on Facebook will be important for those businesses as it will help them rank higher in search. TBG Digital has 10's of thousands of small business customers and we will definitely be talking to them about how Graph Search can help change their businesses – by creating connections on Facebook, providing great service for their customers and then encouraging their fans to share good stories about them and/or checking in on Facebook.
Larry Kim, CEO of Wordstream: “Facebook Graph Search appears to be a great way to search through your stuff, but from an online advertiser's perspective, I'm unimpressed. It remains unclear on how advertisers will be able to use this Graph Search product to better market and sell their products to Facebook users. Search can be great for ad targeting because it allows marketers to direct ads about their products and services to the right people at the right time. Unfortunately, the new Facebook Graph Search capabilities are limited to people, locations, photos, and other types of searches that are weak in revealing commercial intent. In typical Facebook fashion, the official Facebook Graph Search announcement does not outline any benefit for its advertisers.”
Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks: "Graph Search is part of a more comprehensive opportunity for marketers to leverage Facebook for local marketing. When coupled with enhanced mobile Nearby features, streamlined local Page publishing, Zip Code Ad targeting, and highly shareable Offers, Graph Search rounds out a killer local marketing suite that only Facebook can execute. Imagine a near future with billions of people roaming the world with a mobile device looking to find a coffee shop, car dealer, restaurant, hotel (fill in blank) that is nearby and that my friends like. This is the potential business opportunity Graph Search and more broadly local marketing on Facebook. Investing in growing and deepening connections between your brand, your local customers and their friends has never made more sense than right now."
Spruce Media gave this advice to its clients: People who engage with your Page or app do matter. Results are ordered based on a user’s relationships with his or her friends, so it’s not just the number of fans or users but also the strength of those connections that are important. For example, if a user searches for restaurants in a particular city, those that are most popular with his/her closest friends will be displayed ?rst. Additionally, results that are similar to a searcher’s existing likes and interests may be ranked higher.
Partner Abby Ross and vp/sales Sarah Reilly of Blue Eye: Underwhelmed by the announcement based on all of the hype. Good accomplishments from a technology standpoint, but Facebook will have to be very careful from a user experience standpoint. This will be very helpful for small businesses and bridges the gap between social and local in a way that daily deals companies like Groupon should have done from day one. We think this will give brands better insight into how deep their content is shared.
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