If Facebook Enters The Search Market, It Will Destroy Google
Search advertising is an enormous market, with billions upon billions of dollars being spent on search ads every year. If Facebook could capture even a fraction of Google’s market share today, it could dramatically increase Facebook’s revenue and seriously cripple Google.
And the question isn’t if Facebook will enter the search market, but when it will.
What makes me so sure?
Here are a few reasons why Facebook needs to go into search:
1) To fix a broken feature. Facebook already has a search function—powered by Bing—and some people already use it to search the Web. It’s not very good, and Facebook knows that. Having a feature as important as search be ineffective is a big hole, and Facebook needs to fill that hole.
2) Search by Facebook would be better targeted than any other search engine. Facebook knows an incredible amount of information about an incredible number of people. It can see everything that Google can in terms of pages and links, plus a whole other dimension of human demographics. It knows what you like, what your friends like, and what people like you like. It can filter results based on what it knows you’ll be interested in, making for a very effective search engine.
3) To make Facebook a universal launching pad. As of September 30, Facebook has 1.01 billion monthly active users, and 584 million are active on the site every day. Right now, its content is limited to what your friends pour into your news feed. Imagine how much those stats would increase if Facebook became a launching pad to go anywhere on the Web.
4) To add even more to Facebook’s data set. Search by Facebook would not only provide more targeted results to users; it would also give Facebook a whole new level of user information—what they search for. That would make Facebook the number one choice for advertisers.
With Connect, Like buttons, Open Graph, and frictionless sharing, Facebook has made it clear that it wants to connect the Web and make it more social. The next step is to help people access it. With Facebook search, the company would know the time spent on every page, the usefulness of every link, and the patterns of every user. That data would have an immense value in making recommendations to users, serving advertisers, and enabling a new generation of social applications. This gives Facebook a competitive advantage over any other company that dares to try search.
It seems crazy to say that Facebook could kill Google. After all, Google is unbeatable—for anonymous users. Bing and Google have, with a few exceptions, stuck with the standard that results should be the same for everyone because they work in an anonymous environment. On Facebook, everything you do is customized for you individually.
The last decade of the Web has been defined by Google’s simple splash page with a single query field, followed by ten blue links to results. Now, it’s time for a change. And Facebook is the perfect entity to make that change.
Search by Facebook would be incredibly effective, and it would redefine search as a whole. The results of every search would be tailored to you personally based on people like you, people in your area, and people with similar interests. They can favor brands and publications that you or your friends like.
Of course, building a disruptive search engine takes a lot of time and money. It’s a ridiculously ambitious quest, and the cost is well into the millions or more. Facebook simply can’t do it alone.
But it doesn’t have to. Facebook already has a partnership with the second best player in the search game: Microsoft.
Facebook and Microsoft have a common interest in outperforming Google, and the two would complement each other quite well. Microsoft could bring Bing’s search technology to the table, and Facebook could use the Social Graph to eliminate Bing’s monetization struggles. They could be invaluable to each other, and it’s no surprise that people are speculating about a Bing-Facebook combination, which goes beyond a partnership. Working with Microsoft would save Facebook millions, and working with Facebook would make Microsoft millions, or even billions.
Should Facebook choose to go into search—and it most likely will—it will create a search engine radically different from anything we’ve seen before.
Google’s launch of Google+ shows its desire to march onto Facebook’s home ground, which is even more reason for Facebook to enter Google’s. Of course Google has plenty of products besides search, but a defeat of the company’s foundation would be very difficult to recover from.
Google needs to watch its back, because if and when Facebook joins the search game, it will become a key player in the market.