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Why Google has reason to hit on Facebook

I just read an article called “6 ways Google gets your data” in which you can read about six ways Google gathers information about you as a person. In it the author explains that about the only place Google could not read was Facebook.

But is that the reason for Google+?

For that being the case one has to assume that the data gathered on Facebook is worth fighting over.

Facebook users – and remember that there are more than 750.000.000 of them at this point – share a lot of data on Facebook. They share links that they like, videos, pictures of their holidays and a lot of opinion.

However the most lucrative kind of information shared are relationships. With the knowledge of a persons friends and loved ones – or you might call them his/her peers – you can assume that this person would be interested in stuff that are popular with his/her friends. This adds a social relevance to search results which you can already experience on Facebook and can be used for advert targeting of course and that is where the money is.

For a long while it seemed Facebook would be able to overcome Google as more and more people took facebook.com for the internet. Facebook prepared its search to become better than Google as this social relevance promised better results and Facebook adverts could’ve been a great revenue stream on that single domain.

But before this could happen Google launched Google+.

I don’t think it’s necessary for Google+ to become as big as Facebook to be a success. It’s enough to have a second player on the field though Google is a much more  aggressive type as they managed to separate their revenue stream – AdSense – from their social platform so they can give things away for free that Facebook needs to get money in. Just think about Hangover and the soon after relaunch of the Facebook / Skype cooperation. Just weeks before it was rumoured for Facebook to release a premium feature. Now the video chat is free. Easy to imagine that this did not go according to plan but was a forced move.

With Google in the social game the internet gets wider again and your data can be monetized more efficiently than ever before.

Even the circles feature is designed to leverage your data. By friendships not having to be mutual there will be much more relationships. More informations to identify your interests.

Yes that is kind of scary but then again when I think about the real life I have to admit, that I greatly enjoy small shops where I am known as a customer and I get special offers and get pointed to things that I might be interested in. The same thing happens on the internet as well only it is automated and often not really correct but annoying or scaring. However I do like the idea of not facing some bullshit but some stuff I am actually interested in.

The only thing I fear is that when these targeting systems work perfectly there is no easy chance to discover something new; something I wasn’t interested in before.

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  • Andrey Esaulov

    Great analytical post! Got me thinking about my whereabouts in the Social Media.
    One point I’d like to comment on is about your fear of not discovering something new, something you were not interested in before.
    I think it’s basic human nature to notice the things you are interested in and ignore the ones you are not interested in. As soon as you deside to buy a car, a particular model, you start seeing this very car everywhere – on the streets, in advertisment, on the cover of the magazine ten feet away (copyright David Allen).
    So basically what Google does is just orginizing the mess in the Internet in buckets we might be interested in.

  • @Andrey thanks for your comment! What I mean by not discovering something new is what happens to me all the time: I look at things I am interested in and next to it I notice other things I do not know and if I’m in the mood I follow them to see what they are about. And all this can easily happen without any connection to my interest but by simply being on the same shelf.

  • Andrey Esaulov

    I guess I know what you mean. I have the same experience walking along the IT book shelves in the library. Always find something new and unexpected.

  • @Andrey that’s exactly what I meant! 😉

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