Why Facebook will fail at Search

By Dan Nedelko

January 16, 2013

Last Updated on January 17, 2013 by Dan Nedelko

<div> <p>Facebook released their search strategy today the so called third pillar of Facebooks future<p> caption id=attachment 1851 align=aligncenter width=450<img class= wp image 1851 alt=Mark Zuckerberg Facebook Search src=httpsdannedelkocomwp contentblogsdir1files2013012013 01 17 120802 ampng width=450 height=273 > Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook dont get unstructured datacaption <p>Search is hard very hard Its why I have always been fascinated by search it is also one of the reasons I have a massive amount of respect for Google beyond their annoying marketing strategy of do no evil 0 10 PageRank and Android which is a half baked mobile OS IMHO is the fact that they have engineering cohones<p> <p>Their UX is horrible their products are scattered Google+ Wave<p> <p>But their search is amazing<p> <p>And search as I mentioned before fascinates me<p> <p><strong>Index the entire web then for whatever term I type into the search engine return to me the most relevant sources of information and make sure it is trusted timely and relevant Infer what I mean when I type into that little box Make it go<strong><p> <p>That is an exceedingly difficult problem which by all rights theyve done an amazing job delivering upon<p> <p>The World Wide Web is made up of unstructured data blogs here websites there forums reviews images comments stuff stuff and more stuff When data and information is not structured it is difficult very difficult to filter sort and rank Again all things in life being imperfect Google has delivered on that claim and passed with flying colours<p> <p>Thats why you and I use Google everyday Its important because its very very useful<p> <p>Now to circle back to my original thesis Facebook will fail at search and here is why<p> <p>Facebook is<strong> avoiding<strong> the very real and very tough problem Google tackled head on from day one unstructured data Google is attempting to infer the meaning and create structure behind unstructured data<p> <p>Do I like something simply because I mention it How does the content reflect my actual point of view Am I an expert regarding the topic I am commenting upon<p> <p><strong>Facebooks solution to search is the Like and the Open Graph <strong>Their structured databasewhich holds stores categorizes and makes accessible everything you do on Facebook and by extension using Login in using Facebook through a subset of the Word Wide Web<p> <p>Facebook has structured data about our lives all of our posts images comments etc in their Open Graph a structured data set that makes claims to knowing who people really are their real connections and their social lives<p> <p>These are the claims that Facebook has promised are their technological secret sauce on both pre IPO and post IPO But theres an issue which gets us back back to my points about Google earlier and the challenging issues they tackled head on from day one<p> <p>However they cannot distinguish when someone although they Like McDonalds doesnt really like McDonalds through their unstructured sentiment my comments about them are not indicating a positive sentiment even though I hit the Like button<p> <p>Using sentiment to express an outcome versus a structured data set element such as a Like Google has done this from day one via Hilltop and the hundreds of iterations to their PageRank algorithm not the 0 10 scale the algorithmic PageRank that is Googles IP Its how they rank and sort the unstructured web<p> <p>Anyhow this blog post is already too poorly written and too long but I find this conversation fascinating because these are the claim of amazing technologies <a href=httpfacebookcom target= blank><em>Facebook<em><a> versus the reality of execution <a href=httpgooglecom target= blank>Google<a><p> <p>Facebook cannot or will not attempt to address the tough problem <a href=httpftpcstorontoedupubreportscsrg405hilltophtml target= blank>finding meaning through unstructured data <a><p> <p>Rather they want to <a href=httpsdevelopersfacebookcomdocsconceptsopengraph target= blank>force a structured data set read Open Graph<a> onto our lives but will not get into the sentiment problem<p> <p>This spurred an <a href=httpsdevelopersfacebookcomdocsconceptsopengraph target= blank>interesting conversation about structured data and sentiment on Google+<a> with a long time colleague of mine <a href=httpsplusgooglecom106943062990152739506posts>Aaron Bradle<a>y who is a s<a href=httpwwwseoskepticcom target= blank>earch marketing expert<a> who legitimately knows his shit Here is the thread<p> <blockquote> <p>Interesting case Dan In short however much Open Graphs intelligent structured data can be leveraged for advertising and other purposes one cannot infer the presence of negative sentiment based soley on the absence of positive sentiment<p> <p>Put another way this is where the absence of a Dislike button is something of Achilles heel for Facebook and by extension the absence of a 1 button in Google<p> <p>Open Graph cant speak to what you and your friends dont like because theres no mechanism for this Both built in Open Graph actions and built in Open Graph objects are at best neutral when it comes to sentiment Facebook may be able to see that a friend Liked action Catcher in the Rye object a positive sentiment or just Read action Catcher in the Rye a possibly neutral sentiment but one Ill bet is processed like the built in actions Watch Listen and Follow like a Like by Facebooks algorithms Its perhaps unintentionally telling that theplaceholders for built in objects all contain content like this<br >< a wonderful book ><br >< a wonderful movie ><p> <p>I dont know that Google even outside the Google+ environment and its lack of a 1 that Google is better suited to make sentiment decisions for advertising delivery based on structured data The exception here is review data which is really a sentiment scale But in order to throttle the display of a McDonalds ad based on structured data Google would have to know that you disliked McDonalds regardless of the general sentiment surrounding the restaurant because you gave it one out of five on a review Of course your friends reviews might count if Google knew as much about you and your relationships based on Google+ as Facebook does based on well Facebook In reality Ha<p> <p>So is Facebook delivering McDonalds ads to you a sign of failure As much as Im not particularly a FB fanboy Id have to say no Facebooks algorithm cant read your mind It might even be reasonable targeting using structured data based on the fact that a certain proportion of your Facebook friends Like McDonalds Page which would be the equivalent of me being targeted with a Tim Hortons ad I dont despise them and their deceptive advertising I just find their coffee appalling<p> <p>Of course one could also infer from positive sentiment things its likely I am neutral or negative toward If I Like Hitchens God is not Greatand Dawkins The God Delusion youre probably not going to get far showing me an ad for Jesus Calling evangelical bestseller thanks Google But that would take multiple levels of sentiment analysis and topical classification on top of other algorithmic gymnastics<p> <p>I recall a conversation you and I had on Facebook concerning why one should grind ones beef or in my case acquire it from cow loving but non vegetarian hippies But we never expressed that in a formal way clicked a Like button associated with the non built in object Homemade Hamburgers So Facebook had the sentiment but didnt have structured data pertaining to it And so you got asked about Mickey Ds<p> <blockquote> <p>And my thoughts<p> <blockquote> <p>Dan Nedelko<br >917 PM<br >Reply<p> <p>Awesome points however what Facebook needs to be able to do with their structured data goldmine is infer sentiment and semantics from the unstructured portions of their data set<p> <p>Indeed the convenient construct is an explicit dislike however that is an intrusive model from a user perspective<p> <p>I would then have to as a user explicitly identify that I indeed do Like or Dislike something in order for Facebooks algorithm to be able to understand my sentiment<p> <p>Sentiments are unstructured notions How I feel about a given subject does not always have a structured data model which is convenient for the system to process<p> <p>So is Facebooks idea to enforce a structure and exclude a sentiment It seems so From a technological innovation perspective Google assumes lack of structure and provides benefits where possible Facebook OTOH wants to impose structure and ignore the really difficult problem inferring sentiment from unstructured data Thats not fundamentally a problem except that Facebook makes claims to understanding our lives and how we interact Its a bit of a bait and switch of claims versus reality<p> <blockquote> <p><a href=httpventurebeatcom20130115live at facebook heres whats being announced today>Lastly<strong> <strong>some Facebook PR regarding their search technology with some translation from VentureBeat<a> Im now summarizing my thoughts in sound bites but<p> <div> <p><strong>web search is designed to return links that may have answers to the questions that youre trying to ask Graph Search is designed to return the answer not links that might get you to the answer<strong><p> <p><em>Translation We have structured data That gives us the answer from our formal data set Hilltop and Google suck reference to link authority Indexing the World Wide Web is hard We want to make it easier by using our data not everyone elses <em><p> <p><strong>We came up with something we think is a lot more natural he Zuckerberg said<strong><p> <p><em>Translation Natural to us is our definition of structured data Figuring out what you mean online is hard work we dont want to do that Natural means you Like something or by extension in their Want Listen notions etc in the open graph<em><p> <p><em>Its gonna take years and years to index everything Zuckerberg said Theres more content we havent gotten to than content we have Search for mobile more languages text posts and Open Graph content will be coming soon And of course an API is also on the roadmap but perhaps a bit further down the line<em><p> <p>Translation Google has been indexing for years What is open graph content Its your content on your site shoved into their database then made to conform so they can monetize easily while avoiding the work<p> <p>So you may wonder if <a href=httpwwwwashingtonpostcombusinesstechnologyfacebooks an immediate search threat but not to google20130116618542ca 5fff 11e2 9940 6fc488f3fecd storyhtml>Google isnt worried about Facebook search<a> why am<a href=httptwittercomdannomatic> I all a twitter<a> pun intended about this<p> <p>It comes down to <a href=httptechcrunchcom target= blank>spin<a> versus <a href=httpgooglecom target= blank>reality<a> and frankly<a href=httpgooglecom target= blank> real technology<a> talent versus <a href=httpfacebookcom target= blank>crap<a><p> <p>Enough said<p> <p>Am I wrong Is everything Ive written complete nonsense Has the world gone crazy by not observing this or am I just totally insane<p> <p>Addition youtubehttpwwwyoutubecomwatchv= 8cKEmr5f oyoutube<br ><br >Mark Zuckerberg explaining Facebook Search PR Video youtubehttpwwwyoutubecomwatchv=U94DTrjAvuAyoutube<p>

Dan Nedelko

About Dan Nedelko

A human being spinning around on this big blue marble with the rest of you, interested in Digital Marketing // Music // Art // Family // Business // Founder of http://hny.pt

  • Outstanding analysis and well explained. Thanks!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}

    Want a FREE Membership to Marketer Knows?