04th Apr2009

Search Portals v.s Social Networking Sites – A Fight for the Advertising Dollar (& our eyeballs)

by Dorothy

Social Networking sites have gone mainstream, with news of how people are spending more time on SNS than their email, and how Facebook is sending more traffic than Google to some sites.

However, if it is true that there is going to be an expansion of the available domain names, (think .burger, .cola and so on) search is probably going to come back in a big way. It seems rather counterintuitive to introduce such a system on the grounds that we are running out of domain names to register under the current .com .net extensions. There is already a list of other generic top-level domains such as .edu, .info, .jobs, .gov, .travel for example, not counting the country extensions like .uk, .ca, etc.

I cannot imagine having to go manually go through all the possible extensions if I am looking for a particular website, so I’m probably going to head straight for a search giant like Google instead of trying my luck (and wasting my time) with the extension guessing.

On the flip side of the coin…..

here is what was happening last year, when it was predicted that the advertising dollar would shift from SNS and portals.

Portals, Social Networks Lose Share in Razorfish Ad-Spending Study
Digital Shop Says Clients Shifted Dollars to Search, Ad Networks in 2008

“There were a few surprises when digging into the various verticals where Razorfish spent its dollars. Spending on community sites, which include social networks such as Facebook and MySpace, actually went down to 16%, from 19% the year before.Spending on entertainment sites was way up in 2008, to 23% of share from 18%, for two reasons: First, Razorfish finds that people in leisure environments are more open to advertising and the ads appear to convert better, and second, there were many new premium video sites where advertisers could spend their dollars. Said Ms. Baehr: “Hulu didn’t really exist for us in 2007.”



Right now in 2009, FB might be bringing and directing more traffic than Google to certain sites, but in general, I think it remains to be seen how this will play out. This issue is raised here in this article “Is Facebook’s Rise a boon for Google?” as well.

Personally, I am a triffle annoyed at the multitude of advertisements, repackaged as “suggestions”, in the new Facebook layout. FB is trying to be clever in placing your friends’ updates on the homepage on the right, training your eye to tune into the right sidebar area, so that perhaps you’ll make it a habit to glance through on your own profile page, where the Suggestions are. It’s not working. Too much clutter, and I’m on advertisement block out autopilot viewing mode.

I would rather go with Google’s interpretation of suggestions – sites that I actually am looking for, so that I’m getting help for my results even before the typing of the search term is completed. Talk about reading my mind.

FB needs to clean up their act and clean up their interface. It only takes a little nudge (and perhaps a great new platform that takes its users into account) to spark off a mass migration. This is the potential reverse social network effect looming. Then again, maybe FB shouldn’t listen to anyone, since they have never done so, and some good might come out of that.

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2 Responses to “Search Portals v.s Social Networking Sites – A Fight for the Advertising Dollar (& our eyeballs)”

  • I have tried FB paid ads. And yes… it sux – a very dissapointing conversion rate.

    Maybe FB is not a good model for advertisers since FB generally only knows ‘What kind of people are they’ (musician, movie goers, etc) while google can somewhat deduce ‘What kind of stuff that people are looking’ (and thus high conversion rates).

    But I agree FB is a great place to create a meaningful online presence http://tinyurl.com/d82zd3

  • Aditya: Thanks for the comment and link! I actually think that most of the ads in FB are gleamed over, people learn to avoid them. With the new cluttered interface, this gets even worse. It’s still pretty tricky to try and monetize FB that way (traditional banner ads), in a sense!

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