Facebook’s Roundabout Approach to Disrupting Google

Content is still king, and ads still pay the bills.

Before anything else, here are some of my favorite reactions on Twitter to this news:

Facebook has the best data about users, and so targeted advertising would be potentially very accurate, and the metrics fairly deep. On the other hand, it’s unclear how much of that analytic data Facebook will be sharing with publishers, and how. Further, not everyone uses Facebook, despite user numbers running over a billion. I, for one, have gone from being somewhat of a power user to using it solely for the messaging capability. It’s likely I’ll only see content published directly to Facebook if it’s shared to Twitter. That’s probably just what Facebook wants to have happen. In a very real sense, publishers will be giving up a large measure of control over content published on Facebook, and a further question that I have not seen answered in this regard concerns exclusivity. Will content published on Facebook never appear elsewhere, including on the publisher’s own site?

As the Internet has matured and mobile has been in the ascendancy, we’ve seen a strong tendency away from traditional websites to responsive websites and on toward apps. Desktop has become less and less important, and it’s possible we’ll even see mobile-friendly websites fall by the wayside. With this trend, a centralized news and entertainment app could make sense. Rather than download an app for each news source, simply go to a single app and see what’s available, tailored according to your particular likes and interests. If the above turns out to be the case, it feels like somewhat of a return to the early days of the Internet, when AOL and Yahoo! dominated with their walled garden/web portal approach. If Facebook succeeds, it could eclipse Google’s dominance of the web through search, SEO and page rankings. Without pages to search and rank, a search engine becomes irrelevant. Since Google’s real business is ads, this makes Facebook its direct competitor. Google’s business model may be in for disruption.

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