Last week Facebook launched Graph Search and since then I’ve been mulling over what this means for the world of Facebook digital media.
Facebook Graph Search is a beta social search feature that allows you to search for people (find people you’re connected to who have specific interests & experiences), places (find a business and/or event that friends have visited or liked) and things (find TV shows, movies, music, and games liked, watched, etc by your connections).
Essentially “find more of what you’re looking for through your friends and connections”.
It’s a frickin great development
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s not going to be perfect however it does present a completely personalised side to Search; something Google has been particularly trying to crack ostensibly with Google+ for over 18 months. Within months of this exiting Beta I envisage Facebook’s personalised Search being equal (in a ying and yang styley) to Google’s version (as both search tools have been built from the ground up in two completely different ways).
Now I’m not for one second saying Facebook will be as good at Search per se as Google however from understanding who you are and your connections/interests Facebook is ahead of Google.
Essentially super personalised discovery marketing will finally be fully realised based on the content, check-ins, posts, comments and images you have shared/ tagged + by adding the magic sauce of implicit affinities, experiences and connections.
7 Digital Media monetisation opportunities for Facebook Graph Search
This third pillar (the others being News Feed and Timeline) will be monetised in due course that will in turn stem the IPO and investor pressure.
Hence without further ado here are my Digital Media Facebook Graph Search monetisation opportunities:
1/ Google Adword styley ads.
Next to relevant search results you could have super targeted ads. e.g. If I’m searching for ‘friends who have been on holiday to Mauritius’ what better ad than if X travel operator showed up, due to one of my connections having used them or liked them + X travel operator also showed great tailored rates for me and my family from our local airport (now we are moving into personalised data empowered by BIG data feeds)
The above monetisation scenario would work even better if Facebook can figure out a way of successfully monetising the numerous searches for photos/ images that take place on Facebook (not easy and see Google Image search for proof).
2/ Search is the place to be.
A broader extension of the above is that of the Search landscape per se. Whilst Zuckerberg has stated Graph Search is not competing with Google it absolutely will in the long term. Google is furiously trying (aka Google+) to obtain Social signals to improve its Search algorithm. Conversely with this development + the learning’s Facebook can take from its Bing Social Search partnership + with its locked away Google engineers) Facebook could one day rival the Google algorithm. With that algorithm comes mega profit (see Larry or Sergey for proof).
Note: It will be interesting to see the ramifications of what this does to the SEO landscape as if Graph Search is more widely adopted, and developed, you will find more SEO’ers working on how to optimise against a algorithm that never spits out the same result for more than 1 person.
Note: I’m completely ripping off Altimeters industry analyst Susan Etlinger when I enthuse about the Offers opportunity.
Graph Search will fill in the dots between the person, the brand, and the preference thus unlocking the potential for brands to provide people with relevant offers for things they actually want. Beats Groupon spam hands down!
4/ Sell data.
Syndicate aggregated data to advertisers on what people are searching for/ finding.
The Facebook Exchange (RTB/ DSP’s/ Display Advertising) could improve its CPM’s i.e. charging advertisers £more as targeting premium and much better defined segments becomes possible.
6/ Other Advertising Opportunities.
I know this one is a tad vague but surely an extension into competing with the likes of Dating (e.g. Match.com), Recruitment (e.g. LinkedIn and Monster), Recommendation (e.g. Yelp and Tripadvisor) and Rental/ Sale (e.g. Craigslist) sites is not out of the question. Moving into these areas clearly opens up several money making opportunities.
Perhaps Facebook even go a step further and launch a Facebook phone (it’s been enthused about) that has a USP of being the only phone with Facebook products on it; Graph Search and associated powered aforementioned products being them (think of the equivalent Google section on a vanilla Android device such as the Nexus 4, 7 & 10).
And all the above should = improved engagement.
More recently Facebook’s worst nightmare of a static social graph is starting to materialise i.e. few new friends and connections. Graph Search is likely to lead to more people extending their personal network as they see the value in doing so by improving their personal search experience. Not only will engagement aid the other Facebook revenue streams but it will also keep Facebook as a key destination and extend its longevity.