Facebook stock has dropped from a high of $42.05 on the first day of trading to Tuesday’s new closing low of $28.80, losing $35 billion in value in the process, dropping from $115.227 billion to $78.912 billion. While observers point to a new round of trading on the options market, and others speculate that the stock price will fall even more, but fail to commit to a price, the real concern should be just what a Mark Zuckerberg-led Facebook, forced back against the wall by the market, will do to revive its fortunes.
The bet here is Facebook will take more than just a casual walk into Google’s search territory, and that will mean first, a Facebook search engine that’s outside of Facebook, and some kind of approach that’s like Google AdWords, which means it would have to structure a Google AdSense-like corollary.
If Facebook takes such a direction, and I think it’s likely that it will, the ultimate result will be a Facebook that could open itself to a brand new and unprecedented round of calls for openness. Why?
Because if Facebook seeks to collect money, deliver ads, and pay others for hosting those ads, it will have to share just how its programs work to appease any and all who have concrete issues about payment and payment fluxuations.
See, the way Google AdSense works is evident here above you and to the right side of this blog page. The ads gain money for Zennie62 in two ways: impressions and direct clicks on the ads. That’s exactly how Facebook’s ad system would have to work, and I can see how Facebook may find a way to integrate Facebook Connect and Facebook Pages with its ad-serving system – in fact, since Facebook Connect is already on millions of pages and platforms, it’s code could be adjusted to allow for, you guessed it, ads.
Now I have no inside information pointing to that possibility; I only assert that it’s a logical next step. Just as logical as Facebook creating its own search engine, one that integrates external information and news search with Facebook’s internal platform.
For example, if I search for “Zenophon Abraham” on Facebook now, I am taken to a my Facebook profile. But a new Google-like system would produce not only my Facebook page, but whatever references to me are on Facebook, as well as results external to the platform and more like what one might see on Bing, Google, and Yahoo.
The prospect of a Facebook search engine is something that has the attention of Google CEO Larry Page, as expressed to Charlie Rose on May 22nd, 2012:
But, and as Larry pointed to, Facebook’s privacy ethic that currently causes it to horde information, is not in keeping with how Google does business – Page believes in the concept of an open web.
But I’ll go a step further and state that Facebook can’t even dream of challenging Google without becoming more open than it currently is. It’s inherently impossible to do so because the nature of drawing so many users that are potentially dependent on Facebook for ad revenue payment opens the social media company to, first, use of its own platform for criticism, then sharing of problems, and eventually a giant class-action lawsuit, should enough members, let’s call them “Facebook Partners” become fed-up with not getting the information they seek on everything from money to partner service issues of all kinds.
With that, will Facebook take that fork in the road? Frankly, I don’t think they can elect not to do so and survive in its current state. But, and I go back to Mark’s 2010 interview with Michael Arrington as a reference, I don’t think the problems I point to are ones that he or Facebook consider insurmountable. In the interview below, Mark says that Facebook Connect is not a “web ID war” approach, rather a way to share, and he says that “We’ve still got a long way to go with that.”
That can mean a lot of things, but I think it ultimately means the ability to share global search results with friends – imagine if you could do that on Google: take a search query and share that individual search listing result with friends with a click. You can’t even do that with Google+ right now.