We need to search.
Google has become a major part of our life. We “google” for almost everything. With Google we know everything that is there to know in this world. And Google was doing it nicely. With a very simple landing page, and no unnecessary flash pop-ups Google became a friend of all, like a big brother who knew everything, to whom one can ask any question.
We need to network.
FB has also become so much a part of our life. We take photos to upload on Facebook, search for those snaps which can become profile pics, come up with witty status messages that receive more likes, find out that link which receives more likes. With Facebook, lives of people became connected at a deeper level. Long lost friends greeted us and were up-to-date with what happened in our life thanks to our loquacious existence on Facebook.
Both these look different on the surface. One is searching other is networking. But what connects them? The answer is their source of revenue viz, marketing.
Google changed the way marketing worked with ad-sense. The Google Economy was born which was different, new and better than other existing forms of marketing. Targeted text based ads which did not interfere with user’s main purpose but provided good insights at times by giving Ads relevant to your search and email conversations popped on the side of the screen and on top of your search results with clear distinction.
Facebook took the game to a higher level. Specific targeted ads based on your sex, relationship status, interests, status updates all started coming on FB. Side by side, Virtual gifts, pokes, teddy bears, greeting cards – all became a rage. They are still a rage and this whole “Facebook economy” is growing stronger by the day.
I direct you to an article here about the rise of Facebook economy.
The article quotes a Wharton marketing professor as saying, “Facebook is like the QWERTY keyboard: There’s nothing particularly special about it, but it came along at the right time and place. At some point, that standard just becomes locked in” The article also gives a story about two brothers who started Scrabulous and were making $25000 per month. In other words, third party applications based on FB were generating HUGE money.
People spend more time sitting on Facebook page than on a Google page because networking took more time than searching. Also, the ads on FB were closer to ones day-to-day activities and one is more likely to click on them than the search based ads on google. From a marketing agents point of view, FB provided wider avenues to deliver and implement marketing strategies than google. The pillars on which Facebook economy was built was two – a strong target ad mechanism and applications. On the other hand Google economy stood on a relatively weaker pillar of just Ad-sense.
Thus Facebook was slowly eating up the revenue from ads and Google was obviously scared. They had to do something to keep people on google pages and feed them ads. They tried minimising the difference between the top sponsored links and the search results so much that it became almost impossible to distinguish between the two if you are in a hurry. So much for the famed google motto, “Don’t be evil”. Duh. But this was not working and they needed more. So they came up with Google+.
“Search” and “Social Networking” both are just front-ends for feeding us ads. Finally, it is a fight between these two for controlling the market for delivering ads.
With Google+, Google is just trying to level up with FB rather than taking the game higher. The fact remains that Facebook Economy is in a better shape than Google Economy, today.
“Circles” and “Hangout” are not enough. Facebook can add something similar to Circles anytime and “Hangout” is not going to sell more ads.
Google+ is like Edwin Aldrin. People remember Neil Armstrong more than Edwin Aldrin. To win this mad-ad contest, Google has to come up with breakthrough innovation.