Graph Search is adding another dimension to Facebook; another way for users to get a little something more out of the system. Thus far, reaction from Facebook users has been lukewarm, at best, but there appears to be a lot going on behind the scenes that we may not have known.
The first thing that really jumped out at me during all of the hoopla surrounding the event was this article from Bing VP of Search, Derrick Connell. In the blog, he talks about how Graph Search was a joint venture between Facebook and Bing.
"Our two engineering teams worked together to advance a unified search experience," he wrote. "That means that when people want to search beyond Facebook, they see web search results from Bing with social context and additional information such as Facebook pages."
That's interesting. Where it gets really interesting is a little bit further on down the page where we see an image of what a web search on Facebook might look like in the not-so-distant future.
He goes on to say that, "Now when you do a web search on Facebook, the new search results page features a two-column layout with Bing-powered web results appearing on the left-hand side overlaid with social information from Facebook including how many people like a given result. On the right hand side, you will see content from Facebook Pages and apps that are related to your search."
But what we see in the image are Sponsored Results and, presumably, they would originate from Bing. And, in fact, the very first search result that we see at the top of the page is listed as "Sponsored." So, the question is, are Bing ads coming to Facebook, and, if so, how will it work?
The Bing advertising network's biggest problem, and it is a huge one, is lack of distribution. Although, through their partnerships with Yahoo and others Bing closed out last year with about 25 percent of all U.S. web searches, they still lack the overall reach of Google.
A partnership like this that would enable sponsored ads in web searches right on Facebook, where they say they are handling 1 billion searches daily, would mean a whole lot more distribution space for Bing and their advertisers.
It would also mean a lot more potential targeting options for advertisers on the Bing Ads network, should this turn out to be a reality. The ability to use a hybrid of information on searchers from Facebook and Bing combined would mean, perhaps, the most powerful targeting to date. Whether they are anywhere close to enabling something like this remains to be seen, but it would certainly be a game-changer for both advertising networks.
For now, what we understand about this process is that when a Facebook user types a query that Graph Search is not able to handle within its own framework, or when they specifically request a Web search from within Facebook, Bing will be handling the results in both of those cases. So, it will depend on the ability of Graph Search to answer questions without having to defer to Bing for the answer, as well as on the ability for Bing to react to what is likely to be the norm for search patterns, which is users asking questions, and not just typing keywords.
For now, there is much to be discovered, and more to be speculated upon. All we can do is wait, but if Bing and Facebook have struck a deal in which Bing Ads will be displayed on Facebook in Web search results, this will most likely catch the attention of advertisers from far and wide.
The possibilities are enormous. For now, though, we'll have to wait and see.