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How Facebook Is Changing the Game of Search AdvertisingWith a reported 59% revenue growth year-over-year, 1.71 billion monthly active users, and an advertising revenue of $6.24 billion over the past three months alone, Facebook is continually on the rise, and shows no signs of slowing down. The social media giant crushed Wall Street’s estimates for its 2nd Quarter earnings, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg is still hungry for more success. So, with all of this sustained growth, where could he possibly have his sights on next? The answer to that would be a showdown with Google for a share of the search advertising market.
As of right now, Facebook and Google are the two biggest players in the digital marketing world, with the former dominating social advertising, and the latter dominating search advertising. Although the two companies make up 76% of all online advertising revenue in the United States, Facebook still trails Google in total revenue by a sizable $20 billion-a-year margin. The social network looks to close this gap by transforming their search capabilities into a system where businesses can bid to show in the top spots of search results, much like what Google does right now with AdWords.
The Three Stage ModelSpeaking to investors during Facebook’s earnings call on July 28th, Zuckerberg laid out his three stage plan to revolutionize Facebook search. He claimed that Stage 1 is introducing the product to the users, Stage 2 is where the search will be made “organically” useful to businesses, and Stage 3 is when Facebook will charge businesses for search features, much like Google’s pay-per-click advertising. He noted that Facebook was currently in stage two, saying that “we have a pretty big navigational use case where people look up people and pages and groups that they want to get to, and look at, and search. One of the big growing use cases that we’re investing a lot in is looking up the content in the ecosystem and that is an area we’re very excited about, which helps people find more content.” Furthermore, he claimed that once there’s a large volume of people interacting with businesses, this will give “businesses tools to reach more people…and that’s ultimately the business opportunity.”
A Monetized Commercial SearchSo, ultimately the goal for Facebook’s search feature would be to make it monetizable for commercial intent. In this way, their search feature would be offered up for paid search ads to brands and publishers, assuming that interest is high enough. Although Facebook’s users already organically interact with businesses, the question that remains to be answered is if they will be able to make the leap from this organic interaction to a more monetized commercial search. Only time will tell.
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