Google and Bing recently announced the first phase of the social search engine. Social search engines open up opportunity for monetization and new advertising formats. However, the rush to monetize social search engines may destroy Google’s and Bing’s core mission: delivering relevant, quality content.
Bing announced yesterday it will be integrating Twitter and Facebook into search results. A Bing spokesperson said “we are going to get access to all the public Twitter information in real time,”, “The other deal we have done will come with all the publically available data on Facebook, and services from that will come at a later date.”
Today, Google announced a new feature called social search that will be released into Google Labs soon. Google social search differs from Bing social search in that Google will deliver content from only your social networks. How does Google know what social networks to pull content from for search results? Users will have the option of connecting their social networks to their Google profile in order to opt into social search.
There will be much buzz surrounding advances in social search. However, one must ask if social search is good for search engines? I think social search will:
1) clutter search results
2) deliver poor quality content
3) produce spam
4) create monetization boom
I would like to stress the 4th point. The social search engines of Google and Bing will create a rush to monetize social search. I can see two core ways to monetize social search:
1) You get paid to post status advertisements on Facebook or Twitter
In this case, companies will start up to faciliate the relationship between advertiser and Facebook or Twitter user. Imagine a platform whereby Coca Cola submits pre-defined status updates filled with content and links to a social search advertising company. This social search advertising company then pays Facebook and Twitter users to post Coca Cola’s status advertisements as status updates. So when somebeody searches for Coca Cola in Google or Bing, they will see their friends status update advertisement in the search results. Once that status advertisment is clicked, Coca Cola gets charged and the Facebook or Twitter user who posted the status advertisment makes money.
2) Facebook and Twitter promise company ads will display in Google and Bing search results
In this case, Facebook and Twitter can easily post or add text links around your Facebook or Twitter profile like in the side bar. So again, once a user searches for something in Google or Bing, they will see advertisements attached to their friends social network activity.
Conclusion: Do you want to see ads in your search results? I don’t. I’ll predict that if Google is not able to filter out these possible status update advertisements from their social search engine, Google’s search engine popularity will fall. Searchers want relvant, quality content, not advertisements – even if the ads are coming from your friends… who want to make money from you.