Facebook can help you buy anything (except friends)

Facebook just announced that it is acquiring a personalized shopping search engine called TheFind, which has over 15 million current users.

TheFind touts its search engine as the only way to search everything available for sale on the internet, and can match even very vague terms like “white sweater” with a vast array of relevant options.

TheFind also has localization features, meaning that it can return relevant results within a specified geographic area in case the user prefers to buy in-person. Since TheFind aggregates prices across the universe of online and brick and mortar vendors, the user doesn’t need to traverse multiple websites (or physical locations) to find the best deal.

Facebook plans on shutting down the search engine capabilities, but rest assured that they have some clever plans for monetizing this technology. Most likely, this will involve better contextualization of posts and messages that Facebook users generate to make advertisements even more hyper-targeted than they already are.

Perhaps in anticipation of this acquisition, Facebook recently launched an ad sales team with the express purpose of promoting specific items that advertisers are trying to push. There’s no doubt that TheFind strengthens Facebook’s ability to pitch this service to advertisers, as well as charge a significant premium versus

Although Facebook ads may now potentially become even more creepy than they already are, this acquisition should be a win-win-win. It’s win for consumers, who should receive more relevant and better offers; win for advertisers, who can better match ads with the right consumers; and a HUGE win for Facebook, which should be able to further mark up its ad inventory.

Sources:

http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-buys-shopping-search-engine-thefind-2015-3

http://techcrunch.com/2015/03/13/to-boost-commerce-in-ads-facebook-buys-and-shuts-down-shopping-site-thefind/#lKyTXd:9NJM

Sea change or a blip on the radar?

Did anyone notice an unfamiliar interface when searching for a site on Firefox recently?

For most of us, “Google” has become not only a verb in our collective vocabulary, but also synonymous with search- we don’t even consider going to an alternative when we need to quickly find something. This is partially due to the fact that Google had signed an agreement with Mozilla in 2011 to become the native search engine for Firefox, meaning that it was the default search engine for roughly 50% of browsing (the market share of Firefox and Google’s Chrome browser combined).

However, in November 2014 Yahoo signed a five year deal to supplant Google as Firefox’s native search engine. Users in the habit of typing a search term in their browser window are now automatically directed to search results on Yahoo. Google loyalists like myself (I swear that the relevancy of results is still superior to Bing and Yahoo) now have to make the extra step of consciously going to the Google homepage and entering the search term.

Due to this change in the typical user’s “workflow”, Yahoo is now able to claim one search conducted each time this happens. Google has seen an immediate dip in search market share in the US from 79.3% to 75.2%, while Yahoo’s share has grown from 7.4% to 10.4%. While those raw percentage deltas don’t seem high, that impact across the millions of users in the search market is significant.

It’s my personal opinion that Google will continue to be the dominant player in search, and gambits like this by Microsoft and Yahoo will fail to unseat them from the leader position. However, this is indicative of a trend of more and more anti-Google alliances forming- chiefly backed by Apple, Microsoft, and Yahoo, all of whom have tremendous amounts to gain with each point in market share that Google loses.

Source: http://uk.businessinsider.com/google-search-market-drop-mozilla-2015-1