Ronnie05's Blog

Search Battle Royale (Facebook versus Google) – Part II

Posted in Internet and Search, Social context, media and advertising by Manas Ganguly on April 30, 2012

Presenting a two post series on the future of search as Google and Facebook are evolving it each from its core sterngth perspective. This has been reproduced from an article by Drew Olanoff: Facebook versus Google- Who can win Search?

Continued from earlier post

Facebook’s (potential) approach to search

By cropdusting the web with “Like” buttons, Facebook has a huge set of data and information curated by all of us, without the fluff that Google scrapes daily. Think of it as a super-fine set of information that has already been pre-screened by humans. Now if Facebook wanted to “improve” its search, it wouldn’t be as simple as making an algorithm that mimics the experience that we have today on Google.

With lists, subscriptions, likes, and location data, Facebook could let us perform a very direct query with a finite group of people. Basically, a set of our friends or colleagues would be our “search engine”. What would that experience look like? Well, I imagine that you’d type a natural language query and then drill down to whose data you’d like to use to perform the search.

For example, I wanted a taco, I wouldn’t necessarily type taco into an open search box like I would on Google. I’d choose a location or a group of friends and then search for “taco”. Based on where they’ve checked in on foursquare or Facebook, or things that they’ve liked, I could be given results to check out.

It’s not perfect, but it’s not bad either.

Who wins?

First, you have to remember to stop referring to these companies as one “thing” or another. Google isn’t a “search company” and Facebook isn’t a “social network”. They are both companies who want to change the world and make money. We all know that there’s big money in big data. These companies have different approaches to how they’re collecting and displaying the data, but at the end of the day, they’re kind of doing the same thing.
We’re watching a potential clash of the titans where two things are extremely obvious: Google is late to social, and Facebook is late to search. Sure, Facebook has Microsoft in its corner which could help them out a great deal, but as Bing stands, it’s extremely similar to the experience we have on Google today.

The next big step for search is outside of the box completely, with less data and more relevant results. The question is, do you trust regular people like you and I to decide what’s best, or do you prefer to let a bunch of machines try to figure it out for you. The answer is a mix of both, but who will do it better?

At the end of the day, we’re going to use what works best for us. Until Facebook makes a move, it’s still a Google world. However, Mark Zuckerberg and company aren’t going to sit back and watch the stream of data and dollar signs pass them by. It’s going to be an epic battle and it could be anyone’s game.

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