OPA Intelligence Reports

Posted in News on 01/28/2013 By Mark Glaser & Courtney Cowgill

Facebook launches Graph Search

You could call it the Holy Grail of the Internet business: successfully capturing search and social. Google, the king of search, tried it by adding social with Google+. Now Facebook, the king of social, is after it by adding a real search effort with its “Graph Search.” Gone will be the old, sluggish, too-simple Facebook search, replaced by a tool that can give you a scary amount of information from the massive data pile we’ve collectively revealed about ourselves on Facebook. Guillaume Decugis of Fast Company summed up the move like this: “In an ideal situation, we’d want the best of both worlds: search’s relevancy and social’s serendipitous discovery. Whoever combines them first wins, seem to think Facebook and Google.”

What will this mean for the overall online ad market? It depends on who you ask. Simply put, USA Today’s Jon Swartz writes, “Such a plethora of data isn’t just salivating to advertisers and marketers who want to target their ads on Facebook, but a potential broadside to Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Match.com.” Jamie Tedford, CEO of Brand Networks, tells Business Insider: “Graph Search is part of a more comprehensive opportunity for marketers to leverage Facebook for local marketing.” But Larry Kim, CEO of Wordstream, was unimpressed. He told Business Insider: “Search can be great for ad targeting because it allows marketers to direct ads about their products and services to the right people at the right time. Unfortunately, the new Facebook Graph Search capabilities are limited to people, locations, photos, and other types of searches that are weak in revealing commercial intent.” All of this supposes that Graph Search won’t be challenged by privacy concerns, which are quickly mounting. Because of the funny (and creepy) search combinations you can make, Facebook will either have to tighten privacy restrictions and lessen the value of searches or loosen privacy restrictions and upset users.