“According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites.
This trend is shifting the way Web site operators approach online marketing, even as Google takes steps to move into the social-media world.
Some experts say social media could become the Internet’s next search engine.”That last line is key. I see Facebook starting to look more like Google while Google tries and stumbles at becoming more social. Bing will start to play a central supporting role here. I see Facebook and Bing becoming an “Axis of FTW” that will disrupt Google on every front. (Microsoft is an Edelman client.)You can already see it coming…
- Titan/Facebook Chat will challenge Gmail in communications
- Facebook pages will disrupt Google – especially if they were to integrate Bing Maps and location technology a la Foursquare. This can quickly position Facebook as the Web’s Yellow Pages, an area that Google and Yelp currently dominate
- Facebook will make search more social, allowing it to become annotated and curated. This up-ends Google’s core business. It also makes the Facebook self-serve advertising model smarter and more effective as it collects more data about where it sends traffic. This threatens AdwordsSocial networking is here to stay. It’s where attention spirals are flowing and no one looms larger than Facebook. (Link sharing on Facebook rose 500% in six months.) And while Facebook has plenty of critics and they run into the occasional privacy concerns, I believe that they will dominate the landscape the next few years. In fact, I see them becoming the number one web site in the world in under three years. It could eat the web.Now a lot could go wrong. It is possible that Facebook will become AOL the sequel. But I don’t see it. There’s no alternative and the more we put into Facebook the more value we gain from it. This is a different era where vertical integration (e.g. owning and controlling the whole experience) is a major plus, especially if it’s elegant and simple. There’s too much information and things vying for our attention today. This turns vertical integration and simplicity into a competitive advantage.So what does this mean? I believe business web sites will become less important over time. They will be primarily transactional and/or for utility. Brands will shift more of their dollars and resources to creating robust presence where people already are and figure out how to activate employees en masse in a way that builds relationships and drives traffic back to their sites to complete transactions. Media companies will do the same – they will be “headless.”Google and search will remain important for years to come. However, what we’re seeing is the beginning of big changes where social networking and Facebook will further disrupt advertising, media, one-to-one and one-to-many communications, not to mention search.
I disagree with Steve about facebook hurting adsense. The reason adsense works so good is because when people are searching for information they’re more willing to consider ads, while at all other times on the net ads are an intrusion, not an aid. Therefore advertising on social networking sites will not be nearly as effective *for advertisers* (and therefore as valuable) as ads on search.
That said, fascinating post about how Facebook is becoming an intermediary for driving users to content. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.