Facebook Graph Search will offer a chance for users to search and see what their friends like. This is a competitive move against Google, Yelp, Foursquare and Match.com in the advertising and marketing realm, as well as challenging LinkedIn as a way for employers to find an employee.
Facebook wants a larger part of the search engine pie, currently dominated by Google. They want to eventually elevate its advertising revenue with Graph Search, since it opens the digital doors to potential advertisers in the markets for dating, job searches, product reviews and search.
"Facebook is setting the stage for the inevitable search war with Google, a war that advertisers and marketers want to happen so that there is more diversity and opportunity," says Chris Winfield, co-founder of BlueGlass Interactive. "This lays the groundwork for them to roll-out their long-rumored AdWords/AdSense competitor that we should see next."
There's still some skepticism from commercial interests over Graph Search's capabilities, which are currently limited to people, places and photos. "In typical Facebook fashion, the announcement does not outline any benefit for its advertisers," says Larry Kim, chief technology officer at Internet marketing firm WordStream. "There is no linkage to how you can monetize any of this. It is a conspicuous omission."
"Even if they figure out how to grab all this data and plug it into the ad platform, they still haven't been able to offer it to marketers in a meaningful manner,” notes Forrester analyst Nate Elliott. “There's so much more and richer data that could help marketers target their programs that aren't being used right now."
There is potential if a mobile version of Graph Search comes out, but that's months away at the minimum. There's also Facebook's ongoing issue with privacy, or the lack thereof.
"Even though (Graph Search) doesn't reveal information, it makes it easier to find older information you may have on Timeline and don't want to share," says Chris Conley, a technology and civil-liberties policy attorney at the ACLU. "There's no question Graph Search does open up a number of new ways that your buried content can be discovered and used, including not only content you made publicly available years ago but even photos you intentionally hid from your Timeline.”
"In terms of the evolution of Facebook, this feels like the logical next step," notes Ernest Doku, technology expert at uSwitch.com. "But it's only as reliable and useful as the tags people use. Most of us don't regularly update our favorite films lists on Facebook."