29th November 2019

POV: Facebook Marketplace Ads


Facebook launched Marketplace - its destination for people to discover, sell and purchase products in their local communities and buy from businesses - in 2016. Facebook has been testing ads within Marketplace for some time and has now made them available for all advertisers, albeit in a limited format but with plans to roll out in 2020.

Details and Implications:

This brings potential opportunities to advertisers for incremental reach along with considerations for targeting and brand safety.

Advertisers can now place ads in the Marketplace, allowing targeted search ads to reach mobile Facebook users alongside other relevant products and services. Search ads for Marketplace are designed to appear when a user search is deemed to be relevant to the applied targeting settings within a campaign. As with all Facebook ads, Search ads for Marketplace include a ‘sponsored’ label so it’s clear to users that it’s a paid promotion.

In contrast to traditional search advertising, which is based on targeting segmented keyword groups, search ads for Marketplace uses several signals, including perceived interests, behaviours and historical actions (e.g. visits to particular website), to inform the delivery of an ad.

Whilst currently only available in a limited set of search terms within the English and Spanish language, it’s expected the level of available ‘inventory’ (e.g. number of targetable search terms) will increase during 2020 fueling the potential of additional settings including individual and grouped keyword targeting. A key benefit of Marketplace ad placement is the opportunity to leverage consistent targeting used within the newsfeed to increase reach of the desired target audiences and at a potentially lower cost.

However, whilst this placement could offer immediate cost efficiencies at all parts of the funnel and tap into users with high purchase intent, advertisers must consider the limitations involved - particularly analysing performance and campaign optimisation. Marketplace ads must run in combination with the newsfeed placement and aren’t available as a standalone option. This results in an inability to optimise and allocate budget separately to Marketplace and ultimately reduces placement-specific campaign learnings.

Facebook has taken significant steps in the continued development of brand safety and publisher control within placements outside of the newsfeed, such as the recently announced Audience Network white listing. However, search ads for Marketplace currently don’t allow control of which category or products the ads will appear adjacent to. This poses contextual challenges and potential adjacency sensitivities for some ads.


Search ads for Marketplace bring the powerful intent-driven actions, often reserved for search engines, into the paid social sphere and search ads for Facebook Marketplace show an exciting and positive diversification in available audience data for advertisers. The Facebook Marketplace has itself been the subject of attention from the EU Commission, Europe’s anti-trust regulator, over its impact on the online classified ads market – a sign that the service is growing in popularity – with 1 in 3 Facebook users in the US already using it.

GroupM’s brand safety recommendations always suggest first considering the potential continued risk associated with certain placements, with a brands adoption of ads based on the advertisers’ tolerance between reach and contextual risk.

Further Reading:

Reuters | Social Media Today | Facebook for Business | Facebook

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