facebook-graph-search

Graph Search: Facebook's Final Destination?

  |  January 28, 2013   |  Comments

For Graph Search to work, several factors need to change in Facebook's favor.

Have you ever lost your keys? I'm guessing almost everyone reading this has lost their keys at some point. Now, stop and ask yourself what the normal progression of events was immediately after losing your keys.

Initial search, reflection on previous actions, questions to those nearby, followed by an exhaustive search, maybe including those previously queried individuals.

In rare cases the order may be different and steps may be skipped based on specifics, but more often than not, the actions one takes in search of lost keys is likely often as described above. Which brings us to Facebook's Graph Search, a potentially unnatural approach to a naturally learned behavior.

For Graph Search to work, several factors need to change in Facebook's favor. Ignoring for a second the initial issue that users have to engage with the feature, Facebook is still left with two other consumer shifts.

First, Facebook users have to start using Facebook differently. For Graph Search to flourish people will need to engage with brands on a much greater scale then they do at present. I do not doubt the connection numbers that Facebook cites in the Graph Search launch. I am suspect about the quality of brand interactions that can provide meaningful signals and guidance to fellow graph connections. People will need to check in and name-check brands in a more meaningful way with deeper and more honest commentary.

Then, Facebook users have to either replace the normal process they have learned where search starts with a search engine (Google, for most), or add an extra step. It's not impossible to see the second possibility becoming the norm.

Today, people use comparison engines and multiple search engines, so adding Facebook to the mix is plausible. But, it's a shift, and behavior shifts take time. Time for individuals to learn and adopt, and even more time for the masses to collectively embrace it.

This is not to say Facebook's Graph Search isn't the first step toward something better, especially once a mobile solution exists; but for today, if Graph Search is the answer, I really wish Facebook had asked a different question.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Chris Copeland

Chris Copeland is chief executive officer of GroupM Next, the forward-looking media innovation unit of GroupM. Chris is responsible for curating and communicating insight-focused media solutions across established and emerging platforms. Leveraging his multi-year experience with emerging media companies, Chris is tasked with stewarding GroupM Next in partnership with agency leadership from GroupM's four media marketing and marketing service agencies (Maxus, MEC, MediaCom, and Mindshare). The focus is participating with those companies leading changes that most impact consumer media consumption, brand favorability, and purchase behavior.

Guiding the Predictive Insights, Technology, Research, and Communications teams at GroupM Next, Chris is responsible for overseeing the amplification of insights into opportunities that directly benefit the business of GroupM agencies and their clients. GroupM is the world's largest media investment management group and the media holding arm of WPP. Together, GroupM agencies represent almost $30 billion in overall North American billings (RECMA).

Chris helped guide the development of GroupM Next, which was established to deliver the best thinking and new insights from within the GroupM community. The unit also focuses on technology innovation connecting all media channels, but especially, online, social, mobile, and addressable.

Chris was selected to lead GroupM Next after nine years of leading the search marketing practice within GroupM. Among his accomplishments are the development and integration of the global search marketing offering for GroupM agencies, GroupM Search, which managed $1.3 billion in search billings globally and grew to more than 1,000 search marketing strategists serving 40 countries. In 2009, Chris created the research division of GroupM Search and developed research studies that deepened the understanding of consumer behavior across search and social media for leading brands and garnered global traction - most notably: The Influenced: Social Media, Search, and the Interplay of Consideration and Consumption; The Virtuous Circle: The Role of Social Media in the Purchase Pathway;and From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role in the New Retail Shopper Profile.

Chris entered the digital industry in 1996 when he joined search marketing agency WGI (later acquired by Tempus Group). He has been with the WPP and GroupM family of companies since 2000 when, recognizing search as an emerging media channel with incredible potential for brands, WPP acquired Tempus Group and CIA, and ultimately rebranded the search marketing agency as Outrider. As senior partner and managing director of Outrider, Chris delivered on GroupM's vision for the channel, leading the organization to 500 percent growth with global presence over five years, and establishing award-winning search marketing strategies that have become industry-wide best practices. In 2002, Chris successfully implemented the integration of search into the cross-channel media planning process at MEC, creating the first search marketing practice to sit within a media communications and planning company. In 2007, he guided the business expansion of search marketing practices into all GroupM agencies. In 2009, Chris was named CEO of GroupM Search, where he was responsible for driving global search strategy for the organization, while fostering the innovative application of search as an integrated channel. In his role, Chris also provided digital strategy counsel for clients, including AT&T, Dell, Audi, Volkswagen, and more.

Chris is an active member on advisory boards at the 4A's, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and I-COM. He is a frequent speaker in global forums discussing the digital marketplace and how the space is evolving, and serves as a regular resource to national and industry press. Chris contributes editorial commentary regularly to Advertising Age, ClickZ, MediaPost, and MediaBizBloggers.com. In fall 2013, Chris was honored as an inductee into the ClickZ Digital Hall of Fame.

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