Monday, January 21, 2013

The Elephant In The Room Re: Facebook Graph Search

So by now it seems likely that everyone in the social space has heard about Facebook’s Graph Search.  There certainly has been a lot of digital ink addressing what it means from an advertising and/or privacy perspective. 

As an advertiser, I certainly understand the value of being able to target someone based on what they are searching for now instead of based on what they have liked or set up in their profile in the past.  That ability to “pull” in clicks at the right time is a big part of the reason Google’s Pay Per Click ads average a 1%-2% click-through rate vs. Facebook’s current anemic “push” approach that only averages 0.25%. 

But Google’s PPC ads also work because they are part of the “context” of an overall Google search that offers an enormous amount of relevant information to the searcher on the search results page.  This wealth of information ranges from location maps to pricing to images to social outposts (including Facebook of course) that give the searcher options to explore based on their intent. 

How is Facebook going to match this search user experience and expectation?  If you have ever tried searching for something or someone or some company on Facebook then you know that search experience was clunky at best and a downright fail at worst.  And that’s the rub that I haven’t seen anyone else talking about. 

Unless Facebook Graph Search includes a significant upgrade of their underlying search functionality, the use of this new feature will be limited and the professed advertising bonanza will not materialize.

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