It’s inevitable: When, why, and how Facebook will take on Google in search

From The Next Web:

Facebook and Google have been on a collision course for years, and their competitiveness has only increased with the release of Google+ just 14 months ago. As the service becomes more and more popular, one has to wonder how Facebook feels about the search giant encroaching on its turf. More importantly, one also has to wonder if Facebook has plans to hit Google back where it hurts.

Yet we already know that Facebook is going to be doing just that. In fact, the social networking giant has already started. Three months ago, Facebook updated the grey text on its search bar from just the word “Search” to “Search for people, places and things.”

Two months ago, Facebook added sponsored ads to its search results. While this is by no means as effective as sponsored results on Google, it’s certainly a start. Companies now have yet another way they can spend their ad dollars on Facebook.

This past week, Facebook added searches to its Activity Log. It’s the only type of activity in there that is being added before it can even be shared. Facebook is all about adding social layers to everything on the Internet, and the move suggests the social networking giant may one day let you share your searches with your friends.

Furthermore, Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is no longer denying the company’s interest in search. At TechCrunch‘s Disrupt conference, he was asked about many things, and search was one that he didn’t make an effort to deflect. Here’s my transcription of his answer regarding search:

You know, search is interesting. We do on the order of a billion queries a day already, and we’re basically not even trying. Right, so I mean today the vast majority of search is people trying to find people but there are also a meaningful portion of queries trying to find Pages, Brand Pages, other Business Pages, and apps. There’s a bunch of it that actually does kinda link to commercial behavior. I think there is a big opportunity there and at some point we just need to just go do that.

But you know search is interesting. It’s going in this interesting direction. The legacy around search is you get these search engines like Google and Bing and what Yahoo was doing before. You basically type in keywords and the search engine runs some magic to tell you what it thinks the answer is that matches your keyword. But I think search engines are really evolving towards giving you a set of answers. It’s not just like “here, type in something and show me some relevant stuff.” It’s ‘I have a specific question, answer this question for me.”

When you think about it from that perspective, Facebook is pretty uniquely positioned to answer a lot of the questions people have. What sushi restaurants have my friends gone to in New York in the past six months and Liked? Which of my friends, or friends of friends, work at a company that I’m interested in working at because I want to talk to them about what it’s going to be like to work there.

These are queries that you could potentially do at Facebook if we built out this system that you just couldn’t do anywhere else. And at some point we’ll do it. I do think that’s one kinda obvious thing that would be interesting for us to do in the future if we got to a state where we were excited about it.

As you can see, Zuckerberg says multiple times that search is on his bucket list. He covers the who, the what, and of course the where. Now let’s look at the when, the why, and the how.

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