Facebook Graph Search addresses several categories of search — some that were made explicit during Facebook’s announcement on Tuesday and others that are still being discovered as beta users try it out.
Navigation around Facebook, people discovery and recommendations for places and entertainment are valuable features the company has already highlighted. One of the less obvious realms is research.
We’ve talked about how businesses can use Graph Search to uncover consumer insights and how public figures can use it to better understand their followers, but there are other interesting applications for students, researchers, journalists and everyday users.
Facebook’s combination of identity and structured data allow users to answer very specific questions that no other service can. Although Graph Search uses natural language processing to understand what users are actually looking for rather than simply matching keywords, one might get a better sense of what’s possible with the tool by thinking about the following formula:
Type of Content + Subject + Type of Person + Location + Time
Facebook’s new Graph Search tool gives users who allow followers — formerly called subscribers — a way to learn about their audience.
Facebook launched asymmetrical following in September 2011. Users can allow followers to see their public updates in News Feed, similar to Twitter. The feature is commonly used by public figures and people who use Facebook to connect with people in their industry or who share similar interests. However, unlike with Facebook pages, users do not get any analytics about the audience that follows them.
Now with Graph Search, users can uncover some information about these followers. For instance, someone might want to know the countries or cities where their followers live. The most popular pages, movies, music and other interests of their followers might be relevant. Users might want know where their followers work or what schools they went to. They also might want to get an idea of the age, gender or education level of their followers. All of these insights are now accessible using Graph Search.
Users can look for overlap in people who follow them who also follow another user, or people who follow them who are interested in a topic. Of if a user wants to host a meet-up, they can search for followers who live nearby or in a particular city.
See also: How marketers can use Facebook’s Graph Search to understand consumers and Graph Search: a recommendation engine only Facebook could power
Facebook’s new Graph Search is unlike any other search engine. It opens the vault of likes and interests stored in Facebook and combines it with meaningful social identity.
In other words, it’s something only Facebook could do.
When people sign up for the social network, they list their age, gender, relationship status, hometown, current city, schools, workplace and much more. Every subsequent action people take on Facebook is connected to that identity, so when someone Likes a movie or checks into a restaurant, Facebook starts to get a picture of the type of person who is a fan of a particular movie or goes to a certain restaurant.
Now with Graph Search, that information will be accessible to the average user, and it will be able to be uncovered in reverse. It’s one thing to be able to see that a movie is liked by women between the ages of 16 and 36 who also like American Idol. It’s another to enable users to search for “movies liked by women between 16 and 36 and who like American Idol.” That’s what Graph Search does.
Facebook’s new search product gives marketers a powerful new tool to understand their fans and customers.
Graph Search allows users to conduct complex queries about people, places, photos and interests. It begins to open up the wealth of data stored in Facebook and make it accessible to everyday users. Businesses can use this information to conduct market research about their existing fans and potential customers.
Facebook today announced Graph Search, a new way to search for people, places, photos and other things on Facebook.
Rather than indexing the web, Facebook has focused on making it easier to navigate and discover content within the social network. And instead of using keywords, users will combine phrases, such as “photos of me in 2006,” “my friends in San Francisco who like The Lord of the Rings” or “restaurants in New York liked by people who like Top Chef.” Search results will change dynamically as users type. Results are personalized to each user based on their friends, location, Likes and other connections. Users can further refine their query with filters to the right of the results.
Over the past few months, Facebook has added a number of new modules to the site’s unofficial community pages about people, places and things. Information from Wikipedia has been compiled into different sections that help users understand topics at a glance.
For example, a page about public figure will include an “about” section listing the person’s profession, family, hometown and nationality. A page about a musician might include a list of an artist’s albums, the record labels they were part of, instruments they play and genres they are known for. A page about an actor might list movies he starred in or characters he’s known for. Each bit of information is a link to another page on Facebook.
After eight years focused on user growth and building the foundations of its platform — News Feed, location and Open Graph, among others — Facebook went into 2012 prepared to go public and become more serious about monetization.
The social network launched several new ad types and opened a number of other potential revenue streams. Here’s a look at Facebook’s monetization efforts last year and how they might evolve in 2013.
News Feed/Mobile Ads
News Feed ads, starting with Sponsored Stories, launched in January. These same ad types came to the mobile feed in March, and over time, the social network began allowing page post units and other non-social ads. Mobile app installs came to the feed in August. Facebook previously allowed feed-based ads in 2007 but it had never shown ads on mobile devices until this year. Now, the social network is earning $4 million a day from News Feed ads, with three-fourths of that from the mobile feed. Advertisers themselves are pleased to have more prominent inventory, which generally leads to higher clickthrough rates and lower costs per click. In 2013, Facebook is likely to put more ads in the feed and continue to tinker with their design to optimize performance and improve user experience. We’ve heard a new video ad unit is already in the works, and believe more interactive and immersive experiences could be on the horizon.
Facebook introduced its Facebook Exchange, a real-time bidding system that allows third-party platforms to place retargeting ads on the social network after users visit external websites marked with cookies. FBX came out of beta in September, but only a limited number of partners have access to the exchange. Expect this number to grow in 2013. Early partners are reporting lower costs per acquisition than on other exchanges, and many advertisers are pleased that their ads appear above the fold and on brand-safe pages, which is not always the case with other exchanges where advertisers can’t be sure where their ads are being placed or how many others they’re competing against. The Facebook environment is much more controlled. Retargeting data cannot yet be combined with Facebook’s demographic and psychographic targeting options — nor can it be used for social ads like Sponsored Stories or page post ads in News Feed, but many expect these will become features of FBX in the future. TechCrunch recently reported that Facebook may be looking to bring FBX to mobile.
Some Facebook users have been disappointed to discover that they can no longer filter their friends list by current city or other identifiers besides name.
When Facebook rolled out its redesigned friends page last month, it removed the option to search friends by current city, workplace, school, hometown and interest. Instead, the social network offers a way to view friends from a user’s own high school, college or workplace, as well as a way to view “recently added” friends, but these options are more limited. We’ve seen a number of questions and complaints in the community forums of Facebook’s Help Center about this change.
A Facebook spokesperson explained, “We try and simplify features when possible based on usage patterns. This is something we’re open to considering again in the future.”
Users who want to know which of their friends live in a city they’re thinking about visiting or work for a company they’re interested in can no longer use the search function on their friends page as a shortcut, but there are some alternatives. Users can visit business or place pages directly to see which of their friends are connected to them and how. City pages let users know whether their friends visited the city, lived there, worked there, was born there or went to school there.
Business or fan pages that have been claimed by the entity have less information. Users can see if a friend Likes the page or has visited, but they can’t see whether their friends worked for a company or attended a school. This used to be possible before Timeline, but was never brought to the new page layout.
Before shot of friends page via Cass Sapir.
Facebook is 2012′s top search term - For the fourth year in a row, Facebook was the top-searched term overall in the U.S., according to Experian. Facebook accounted for 4.13 percent of all searches, a 33 percent increase from 2011. Other variations of the term “facebook” were among the top terms. Second on the list was YouTube. Facebook was the top-visited site for the third year in a row, accounting for 79.1 billion U.S. visits. Google was No. 2.
Facebook mobile ad performance suggests greater growth for industry – In large part because of Facebook’s surprising mobile ad growth, eMarketer updated its overall projections for the mobile ad industry to $4 billion this year instead of the $2.61 billion it originally estimated. eMarketer projects Facebook’s U.S. mobile ad revenues will reach $339 million this year and more than $1.2 billion in 2014. eMarketer bases its figures on a meta-analysis of data from research firms, investment banks and other sources on ad revenues, ad impressions, ad pricing and other factors.
Germany wants Facebook to allow pseudonyms - Germany’s data commissioner this week ordered Facebook to remove its real name policy in light of German laws that give users the right to use pseudonyms online. The data commissioner’s office said in a statement on its site, “The permission to use pseudonyms on Facebook is reasonable. The real name obligation does neither prevent abuse of the service for insults or provocations nor does it help prevent identity theft.” Facebook responded, saying it will fight the order “vigorously.”
Chango gets FBX access - Programmatic ad buying company Chango this week announced it has gained access to the Facebook Exchange. The company is among a limited group of DSPs that have access to FBX inventory. Chango says it is the first FBX partner to offer retargeting based on search profiles.
Video privacy law change passes Senate – The U.S. Senate this week passed an amendment to the 1988 Video Privacy Protection Act that could enable Netflix and other services to allow users to give one-time consent to share their viewing activity on sites like Facebook. The new legislation, which is backed by Netflix, now goes to the president to be signed into law. After the new law is approved, U.S. users will be able to use Netflix’s Open Graph sharing application, which has so far only been available for users in other countries.
Facebook today begins a rollout of Nearby, a new local search and discovery feature in its iOS and Android apps.
Nearby used to be a feed of friends’ check-ins, but now it will enable users to search for specific places, browse categories or see broadly what’s around them, organized by their friend’s recommendations, check-ins and other social cues. Place listings include business hours, a location map and description, as well as an option to call the business, check-in, Like the page and visit the business’ Timeline. Facebook has also begun displaying star ratings for places based on information it began collecting a few months ago. Users can only rate places that they have previously checked into. Recommendations are also included.
This signals a major push into the local search space, which could help Facebook establish its mobile strength and open new opportunities for monetization, such as promoted places, sponsored results, click-to-call advertising or other mobile location-based ads. For now, Nearby lives within the main mobile app, but we imagine it would be a useful standalone app as well.