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Search for Obama on Facebook and You Get Romney (diegobasch.com)
23 points by eidorianu on Sept 19, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 18 comments

Bidding on competitor terms is nothing new.

Yes, it might be a poor use of their money, but they can decide what to do with their ad money.

As a commenter on the blog noted: Google regulates this somewhat with their quality score algorithm and charges more for people with irrelevant ads & content, but at the ened of the day, if someone wants to bid their way to the top, it's still just an auction system and they can certainly do that if they want.

That is true for Google. However, we don't know if this is the case with Facebook. I have no insider knowledge, but I suspect that Romney's campaign must have approached Facebook and worked out a one-off deal. I see Romney as the top sponsored result every time I try the search. Apparently it started several weeks ago. For me it won't stop showing up, even when it's clear that I have no intention of ever clicking on it.

My opinion is that it's a terrible way for Facebook to showcase their entry into the market of paid placement for search results.

>I see Romney as the top sponsored result every time I try the search. Apparently it started several weeks ago. For me it won't stop showing up, even when it's clear that I have no intention of ever clicking on it.

It's most likely designed that way. While it might not work to make YOU click it, most likely neither do paid search ads. Fortunately, 2-3% of searchers do find them useful and those 2-3% of people usually translate into substantial revenue that makes the continued advertisement worthwhile for the advertiser to continue.

Facebook is in the process of gradually rolling out sponsored search. I think businesses with big budgets get to cut to the front of the line.

What's curious to me is the difference between the Democrats and Republicans on this. The Romney campaign is clearly on the offensive as well as playing smart defense. If you search for Paul Ryan, you see Romney as the top result. If you search for Bill Clinton, either Ryan or Romney show up. The Obama campaign does not appear to be bidding on any terms.

There's no telling whether it's the campaigns themselves actually spending that money, is there?

I doubt it. It could just as easily be a pro-Romney PAC or Super-Pac. If you look at this tracker, many of the PACs are spending 6-figures at a time on "Internet/Web" ads:


The PACs aren't allowed to have direct contact with the candidates.

This was discussed on Hacker News 23 days ago:


My Facebook friends mostly just think it is funny. (That's regardless of what their political opinions are.)

An important distinction between this and Google's sponsored search results in that it is happening in typeahead completion instead of on a results page. As far as I know, google does not put sponsored results in its completion suggestions (though even that is a little different: selecting a google suggestion takes you to the corresponding search page, not to where you ultimately want to go, as the facebook search does). And the real difference is that when you go to a page of google search results, even if there are sponsored results, you have to click on an ad to go there. In Facebook search, the expected result of typing someone's name into the search bar is to press enter and immediately go to their page.

I find the sponsored results in Google to be much less off putting.

…google does not put sponsored results in its completion suggestions…

Not yet, at least – but if you use 'Instant', where the results are appearing below the completion dropdown, you will see ads flashing there on less-than-your-full query.

Wow, by the looks of that screenshot Obama is absolutely thrashing Romney in terms of "Likes".

Maybe Obama is just more popular with a younger facebook using crowd?

Also, Obama has been the President of the US for 4 years. There are many people abroad who think Obama is a pretty cool guy, but haven't even heard of Romney.

Hmmm. I see Obama as the first returned result. Not sure where the difference is. Could it be specific Facebook "tweaking" based on profiles?

It's an ad, you're probably not in the targeted audience for it.

BINGO Blitz being #2 is a much more curious to me.

To be fair, it's under a "Sponsored" heading (if you look hard enough).

I completely agree with the article. People complain about the screen real estate on Google results pages without realizing that the other things on the page are either highly relevant ads, or tools to help you search better/efficiently.

In this case, Facebook is doing the opposite. NOTHING about that is good and I don't know why anyone would pay for it. Anyone looking for Obama is not going to NOT NOTICE that they just wound up on Romney's page. They're going to roll their eyes, do the search again and be more diligent.

And Romney will have paid for that click in one way or another. Maybe I'll go do that search a few more times...

Actually, when I searched it came up like this:


Not sponsored (for me). Just showing the opposite in the search results.

hehe, look about 10 pixels below where you typed "obama".

Oh geez. Duh. They are both sponsored. Reading fail on my part.

However, I guess that shows that even when you're looking for it... you sometimes don't see it, showing why these might be a terrible idea. Or a brilliant idea.

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