The news this week in the Facebook vs. Google battle for social networking supremacy has been all about applications or widgets. Next week will likely be about advertising. Here’s a review of the week that was and a look forward to what Facebook likely will be announcing to begin its competition on Google’s online advertising turf.
Don Dodge has a level-headed analysis of Facebook vs. the OpenSocial platform. Facebook may well decide to incorporate Google’s OpenSocial, but developers aren’t going to abandon the Facebook platform. Certainly having MySpace as one of the OpenSocial sites gives it critical mass, but with 50 million Facebook users, the developers will continue to program for it as well as OpenSocial. It really is about the community, and Facebook has that.
Jeremiah Owyang likewise has a good post on what OpenSocial means, as does his colleague Charlene Li. As she says, developers will deploy for Facebook first, before OpenSocial. Her post was written before MySpace joined the OpenSocial junta, but I still think Facebook has the momentum and critical mass of developers. If it takes a few days to produce two versions of an application, one for Facebook and another for OpenSocial, I think it’s likely developers will do both.
Next week, Facebook is slated to make some big announcements about how its Social Ad network will be implemented. Techcrunch gave a preview last Tuesday, and has updated it with more detailed information, based on some leaked documents, on what Facebook will announce this Tuesday. Search-based advertising with Google is obviously a huge business, but Facebook’s ability to target demographically (particularly as it now will be gathering more opt-in information about user purchases) and to place ads on other sites (not just within Facebook) will give it an opportunity to deliver relevant advertising.
It’s like my recent Netflix experience: I rate movies I’ve seen, and Netflix suggests others I may enjoy. I’m now getting recommendations based on movies I’ve rated, and many of those are ones I’ve already seen. As I continue to rate those, Netflix further refines the recommendations. I see the new Facebook ad program working similarly, but with suggestions coming from my friends, too. Some people are concerned about privacy implications, but users can either opt out or choose to opt in on a purchase-by-purchase basis.
By the way, I have a Facebook Flyers experiment running, testing some different flyers on the pay-per-click Flyers Pro model. So far I’ve spent the princely sum of about $6.5o for about 18,000 impressions. Given that the Flyers Basic program costs $10 for 5,000 impressions and isn’t targeted as well, the PPC program is a better deal. If you don’t get the clicks, you don’t pay. I will be interested to see if the click-throughs lead to people taking the next step.
This week Facebook was on defense as Google (teaming with MySpace) took a run at the Facebook’s platform supremacy; next week Facebook returns the favor with its enhanced ad platform (and if rumors are correct, also will take on MySpace with a new music offering.)