Google and other search engines are ‘failing’ says top Facebook executive
Published 25/10/2011 | 09:58
Top Facebook executive, Ethan Beard, has said that Google and other search engines are failing to give people the results they really want and need.
Talking to The Telegraph, Beard, the director of the Facebook Platform, said that search will have to “go social” but admitted that a tie-up between the social network and its major rival Google would not make good business sense, despite the benefits to consumers.
Beard is in London, as part of a global tour, talking to hundreds of British developers today about the new additions to the site’s Platform since f8, the recent Facebook developers conference – at which the site's chief, Mark Zuckerberg, announced the 'Timeline' and a ‘new breed of social apps’, probably best highlighted by Spotify’s deep integration with the site.
‘Platform’ is the part of Facebook which allows other websites to integrate Facebook apps or tools, such as the Like button, onto their website, and developers to use the site’s social graph to create socially driven services and games, such as the hugely popular Farmville game.
Beard said that search needed to go social so that people could get really good product recommendations from their most trusted sources, their friends, as well links to sites where they can buy the items.
Using a personal example of his recent need to buy new luggage, Beard said: “Before the internet you would ask your friends for all your recommendations…then along came ecommerce and products like Amazon… which are great for buying or getting a product, but they don’t have any people on them so the discovery mechanism has now kind of been busted for a lot of things.
“We think that through social and bringing people back into these applications is going to change everything.
“Ecommerce is just one example – I got on the plane to fly to Europe and was sick of my luggage… and went into a search engine to look for a new bag. I tried everything and it just didn’t work. You can’t search for a piece of luggage just using search if you want the perfect one…I know I have a friend somewhere who does the same amount of travelling and knows the perfect bag for me… and that one recommendation is exactly the one that I want – but it doesn’t show up in search.”
Beard, formerly Google’s director of Social Media, dodged the question when asked whether Facebook would ever provide that much-needed social data to Google’s search engine, saying: “I think search will go social,,.but I don’t know if I am smart enough to answer that specific answer …friend referrals are a really powerful way to discover information and search is another way of discovering information and layering the two together seems like its going to be a significant improvement over keeping them apart.”
However, when Beard was presented with the statement that Facebook would probably never sign the deal as it wouldn’t make good business sense, he agreed, simply replying “yes”.
Facebook only has a search partnership in place with Google’s main rival Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.
Google is currently trying to add both social and real time elements to its search index, having failed to renegotiate a new deal with Twitter, via data it collects through its own new social network Google+. The site, which is hoping to rival the 800-million strong Facebook, has more than 40 million members 100 days after launch, but Google will not disclose how many of them are active.
Beard said that Google+ validated a lot of the messages Facebook has been pushing over the last few years – namely that all web services should have social features at the heart of them.
He also made a quip about ‘social strategy’ being so important to Google that it has gone as far as making 25 per cent of every employee’s bonus dependant on Google+’s and other social features’ success rate.