It’s interesting watching developments in emerging markets like search and social media. For the past decade Google has dominated search and has just grown its market share more and more while its competition has declined. It just hasn’t seemed possible that anyone could catch up. Then, enter Facebook.
Facebook and Google have not exactly been competitors. But, technically, they are.
Google is a search engine. Facebook is a social media platform. Its growth into one of the largest and most trafficked websites online is itself an extraordinary success story. As is Google’s. Even though these two companies appeal to their respective users in very different ways, they can be considered competitors in one very important respect. They compete for traffic.
You could also say they compete for advertisers. After all, advertisers want to spend their money where the greatest hope of success is. Generally, that means where the people are. Traffic.
In Facebook’s case, however, that hasn’t exactly proven to be a huge feather in the cap. Google AdWords is still the No. 1 choice for online advertisers, which makes Facebook’s recent acquisition of Chai Labs an extraordinary event.
Google has had so many acquisitions that not many people even notice them any more. And no acquisition has taken the company from its emphasis on search, which is a good thing. But Facebook has not made a habit of adding new companies to its portfolio. The fact that one of its first acquisitions is a search technology provider means that Facebook is planning to enter into Google’s domain – and it’s just as well since Google has entered into Facebook’s a number of times. The question before Facebook today is whether it can take a purchase like Chai Labs and churn it into a public offering that will help it to rival Google in the one area where Google has excelled better than anyone else? Can Facebook become a search monolith without compromising its ability to provide a social platform?