Does Google Care About Social?
Pali Research analyst Richard Greenfield issued a report yesterday about the MySpace/Google ad deal concluding that “Google doesn’t care about social networking. But perhaps it should, since social-networking platforms are gradually making search less relevant,” according to AdWeek.
Sounds pretty harsh, no? It’s well-established that ads on social networks don’t perform as well as other types ads. We’ve always liked to think that it’s because social network users aren’t there for advertising or product info. Not so, says Greenfield: “Rather, . . . Google’s algorithm isn’t well-suited to social-networking sites — and that’s something Google isn’t necessarily concerned with.”
And there’s a good reason for that. And no, it has nothing to do with clicks from social networks being less valuable than clicks from elsewhere on the net. It’s jealousy:
The reason the company [Google] doesn’t care, said Greenfield, is that the basic functionality of social platforms like MySpace, Facebook and Twitter is “diminishing the importance of search.” He points to users’ growing inclination to search for specific information by tapping into friends’ and colleague’s knowledge through platforms like Twitter’s own search product, as well Facebook’s status update tool.
Okay, let’s get this straight. So because people are using the Internet to talk to their friends and browse what their friends are doing right at this moment (in 140 characters or less in some cases), they don’t need Google anymore (How did he know I used to spend my free time Googling “What is Kim Habermann doing right now?”).
Therefore, petulant toddler that it is, Google isn’t doing all it can to work on its one and only algorithm that serves search results and ad results to make it cater to these social networks.
Let’s look at this seriously now. Never mind the fact that Google has been saying for more than a year that they’re not doing social search because it “doesn’t show much promise.” Some searches on social networks aren’t going to win clicks. Some social search involves looking for product reviews from people you trust, finding old friends, making plans.
There are still going to be searches on social networks that do yield paid clicks for Google, but in general, even if you’re already on MySpace, why use their search product to conduct those searches? It’s not that hard to hop over from your social site to Google proper to type in your query.
So do searches on social networks simply not make as much money? Probably. And is it Google’s fault? Probably—if they hadn’t gone and created such a powerful brand, people would probably be content to use search anywhere for anything.
What do you think: does Google care about social? Should it?