Facebook’s Product Ads Resemble Display Ads, Not PLAs

February 25, 2015

Last week Facebook introduced product ads, their new ad format designed to provide advertisers with a better alternative than search engine product listing ads (PLAs). Advertisers upload their product catalogs, highlighting products that were previously viewed, similar to previously viewed products, or showcase best-selling products, and Facebook takes care of the ad creation and targeting.

Initially, people familiar with the digital marketing space thought the product ads were simply Facebook’s version of PLAs.  However, they actually more closely resemble display ads.  PLAs appear for the user based on the search they just performed, an immediate suggestion.  A user searches for “smart phone cases” and are given a page full of results reflecting their search, in this instance cases for cell phones.  Users are not using Facebook as their search engine and don’t search for specific products like they do with Google or Bing.  Facebook’s product ads, like display ads, appear as suggestions based on previous searches and history within the user’s feed.

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