Graph Search is a recently announced feature from Facebook and it’s potentially a game changer in the search category, currently dominated by Google. Getting people to utilize a new search tool within Facebook, is all aimed at keeping them within the platform, where the company can monetize their presence through targeted business advertising tied back to their search results. Facebook has compiled an incredible graph of aggregated data, that when combined with search, has the ability to deliver very personalized results based on your profile and your friend’s experiences.
Suddenly a Google search could go from yielding 1,000 results for “Best restaurant in Paris” to perhaps the top 5 as aggregated by recommendations based on your friend’s personal experiences. That in it self is a pretty compelling draw, but if you add an additional layer of localized search enabled from mobile devices, where your physical proximity, is further aggregated with results to suggest the restaurant recommended by friends that is within walking distance at that very moment, that is the wholly grail. It is at that point that search not only becomes personal, but also location based, and in an increasingly mobile web environment, that is where all this is headed.
Local services such as lawn care, roofing, decorating, plumbing, dry cleaning or shoe repair have not by and large, adopted Facebook pages and social media campaigns yet. However, search tied to location and aggregated data, including friend’s recommendations, could dramatically change that. Want to find a roofing company that did work for your neighbours and was recommended by your friends? You’ll be able to do that on Facebook. Makes a simple Google search for roofers and Vancouver, where I live, seem passé.
Google of course is the king of search. However, Facebook took a shot at them when they declared, “The difference between web search and Graph Search is that Graph Search shows you the answer and not links to answers.”
One benefit to marketers is that Facebook will be conditioning its billions of users to search for what they’re looking for, thus divulging intent, something they have never before been able to capture. The combination of social context (what your friends like) and intent (what you’re looking to buy) will make it possible for advertisers to take Facebook’s already amazing targeting to the next level.
I’m not sure where all this leaves Google+ but I would be very surprised to not see Google attempt to unite their own properties in a similar offering.
It’s a high stakes game, and this major move by Facebook puts them squarely in Google’s search territory. Currently Graph Search is in Beta form available to limited users. That won’t last long.
Look out. This could get interesting.