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Why Facebook’s “Threat” to Google Is Overestimated

Anyone paying attention to the web industry has probably heard Facebook touted as the “one real threat to Google.” Facebook has reached more page views per day and more active users than Google. And now, with the injection of funds into Facebook from Goldman Sachs, the idea of Facebook as a Google-killer is re-emerging.

Here’s one of many such reports (this one from Adweek) But my point here isn’t to regurgitate false speculation. Rather, it’s time that this silly idea — that Facebook’s success is hurting Google — be put to rest.

Facebook, like Google, came into the world with stunning speed, quickly overtaking competitors and gaining a near monopoly in its market. What must be clear, however, is that Facebook’s market is not the same as Google’s. Facebook now reaches 70% of all internet users, which shows amazing growth since 2009. However, Google has also been growing during that time, and currently reaches 81% of the internet audience.

Back in the era of Rockefeller and Carnegie, we saw several of the richest figures alive, and these industry giants did it without stepping on each other’s toes. That’s because while Rockefeller was working with oil, Carnegie was working with steel, and so on down the line. Carnegie wasn’t a threat to Rockefeller; their territory, while vaguely related, didn’t overlap.

Additionally, while Google and Facebook can be seen to be mutually threatening one another thanks to their loyal user-base and large monetary resources, they don’t seem to cross borders. Facebook added more advanced messaging features and some search options, but they really only impact web search through partnerships. Google, meanwhile, failed to dent social networking during its Buzz fiasco.

Both Google and Facebook are powerful companies, and Facebook is quickly gaining territory. What users need to recall, however, is that the territory Facebook is gaining isn’t — and never has been — in Google’s empire.

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Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began life as a webmaster in 2002. His work as an SEO consultant since 2006, and subsequently to content writing for technology and internet-focused publications, has done nothing but fuel this passion.
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15 thoughts on “Why Facebook’s “Threat” to Google Is Overestimated

  1. I disagree. It comes down to advertising and where marketers are going to spend their money. Facebook is definitely encroaching on Google territory. As more people spend more time on Facebook, it’s only a matter of time that they will start to find info and answers on Facebook. And what’s stopping Facebook from generating their own search engine?

    1. As someone who’s worked specifically in the PPC advertising field, I can tell you that it’s not an “either/or” set of choices. While Facebook plows ahead into new territory, it also creates something: reasons to be online more. The more people are online, the more online marketing — for everyone, Google included — takes off.

      Sure, there are times when the two will tug at advertising dollars, but the end result is a greater draw to where users can be advertised to. As a result, the two will continue to expand the AD SPACE in effective ways, and the advertising dollars will follow.

      If someone needs to be worried, it’s television advertisers — who’s entire empire is shrinking as people spend more and more time online.

    2. As someone who’s worked specifically in the PPC advertising field, I can tell you that it’s not an “either/or” set of choices. While Facebook plows ahead into new territory, it also creates something: reasons to be online more. The more people are online, the more online marketing — for everyone, Google included — takes off.

      Sure, there are times when the two will tug at advertising dollars, but the end result is a greater draw to where users can be advertised to. As a result, the two will continue to expand the AD SPACE in effective ways, and the advertising dollars will follow.

      If someone needs to be worried, it’s television advertisers — who’s entire empire is shrinking as people spend more and more time online.

  2. Well, I understand your points but there are many territories, which are common for both google and facebook (including the advertisement, which is one of the main source of income for both companies), So google just can’t ignore this, Moreover, It’s the matter of becoming the top website of the world (no matter field they are working into )

  3. Your points would be valid if we were living in 1890. What took Rockefeller and Carnegie 30-40 years to build back then is now built in less than 10. The barrier of entry to search for Facebook is minimal compared to Google entering social networking as you point out above. Facebook can take their time and probably fail more than once at search before they give Google a run for their (advertising) money.

    1. Trust, habit, features, advanced algorithms, new technologies, and much more are necessary for search engine success. Facebook could potentially enter the field, but if they do, I think they’ll see as much success with it as Google did with social networking. Is it possible? Sure. But I’ll believe it when I see it.

  4. face book is in social media and google more a search engine.. both are different from each other.. i dont see any threat…

  5. Thats True I agree with this…. Facebook and Google both are different body with separate fans list. Both are powerful but they never put step on each other’s toes.

  6. I don’t think that people will like FaceBook as a search engine. There is a huge difference between a search engine and a social networking site. If any one needs to search something definitely he will search that thing on Google but he want to chill with his friends and wanna make some fun then he will make his feet turn to FaceBook. And obviously time spent on social networking sites is much more than a search engine because they have Mafia War & Farm Ville Stuff ;)

  7. I think this is a complete set of debate and it contain several points i thought a bit before commenting here and come out with this note Google is going no where but Facebook is still a threat to Google… sounds kinnda funny but this is how it is!

    Google and Facebook does not contain the same industry agreed! but what about the Google Personalized search? when it comes to personalized search i think Facebook is a threat.

    Google attempt to social networking projects (some how failed) was not only to compete facebook or Twitter but also to support the future of search engine.

    Then, Google real time search itself shows the importance and influence of social media in search.

    I didn’t mean that this is the time to say Good Bye to Google but yes slowly social media is taking over. There is lot more on facebook and twitter else then RTs and Farm villa :)

  8. this is a real war between facebook and google ……………lets watch who wins….!

  9. Agreed. Facebook was not a threat for Google and never will be. Internet users use the two companies on different situations and needs, although Google is struggling hard to enter the realm of Facebook while Facebook is chipping in into Google’s ad business but not on search.