Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Why Facebook's 'Graph Search' is a Bigger Deal than You Think.


There's a reason Google's been force-feeding us Google+ for 2 years now, and it has little to do with competing with Facebook as a social network, at least on the surface. 

Facebook 'Graph Search' may just change the search game forever
With Facebook's unveiling of 'Graph Search' today, they've finally begun the process of monetizing - in earnest - the enormous amount of user data they've been hoarding over the past decade. Apparently all they needed was some former Googlers to show them how; namely, Facebook's Director of Product Management and Facebook's Director of Engineering both have histories with the search giant.

Most notably, however, is Marissa Mayer, who famously fled Google's ship to take the helm at the floundering Yahoo search engine as CEO.

There may not be an immediate link between Facebook, Google, and Yahoo, but it's there, and it makes the launch of 'Graph Search' not just interesting, but downright juicy.

Yahoo and Bing, despite appearing as "adversaries" in the natural search world, have been in overt cahoots since 2010 in paid search, ever-attempting (and just as often failing) to gain market share against Google who owns nearly 80% of the search pie. Since paid search is the proverbial "cash cow" in this equation (Google reportedly makes over $100 million every day from paid search), Bing and Yahoo (collectively known as Adcenter) need a competitive advantage when it comes to paid search to make any sort of movement; an edge it hasn't had.

Until now.

Uh, Google? You look desperate
As the primary search engine behind Facebook's 'Graph Search' tool, Bing is set up to reap long term benefits in a way that Google has been clamoring to achieve via Google+. And while Bing now has access to over 900 billion sets of data from Facebook's database, Google's social network might as well be throwing pebbles at the upstairs window, hoping to be invited into the party.

With Facebook's 'Graph Search', Bing, and likely Yahoo by relation, will have the inside track on providing real-time, relevant, social search results to users by accessing Facebook's data set. Google on the other hand must continue to rely on '+1's' or other tame dynamic sources. Surely nothing that is as robust, personal, or connected as what Facebook could provide.

While Facebook's stock was dropping, the fact stood - Facebook has an unfathomable number of users and their data. By virtue of that fact alone, Facebook is viable. Bing and Yahoo know it. And perhaps Google knows it now more than ever.