Though the internet age has created many large international businesses, Google and Facebook are two giants that tower above all the others. For much of their existence, these companies have occupied different realms and didn't compete with one another directly. In recent years, the two companies have tried to move in on the other's territory with generally poor results.
Facebook's search feature was never used as much as the company had hoped. And Google+ never truly caught on, even when integrated into Android devices. Nevertheless, there are signs that the competition is only just getting started. Here are three things consumers can expect to see in from Facebook and Google when these giants continue their struggle.
Though the war between Google and Facebook is figurative, the need for allies is no less real. After trying to change the status quo on their own and failing, both companies realize they will need help if they intend to challenge their rival. The seeds of this can be seen already.
Having failed to make Google+ the social network powerhouse they wanted, Google is partnering with Twitter and now features live Tweets in Google Search results. This benefits Twitter by getting more people to visit Twitter for current events they search about on Google. And for Google, the partnership allows the search platform to be an integral part of the social media experience, since people know they can search on Google for things on Twitter. Google is also partnering with Yahoo to get its search results seen by even more people. Such alliances would have seem unlikely five years ago. These partnerships show that is has become clear to the company that even with its power and market share, Google can't dominate internet traffic and consumer behavior (though European regulators would disagree).
Facebook has also used partnerships to strengthen its hand against Google. Facebook has partnered with IBM to make its ad network for effective. And though Facebook has a great advertising network, it paled in comparison to the size and scope of Google's ad network. By partnering with several advertising networks, Facebook has increased its capacity to show ads on apps, mobile devices, and websites outside of Facebook. They even recently announced a plan to branch into more video ads.There's even evidence that their efforts are working, with display ad growth on Facebook outpacing Google in some studies.
Consumers and business owners should expect to see more partnerships in the future. Google and Facebook are the biggest games in town, and any business that wants to increase its profile would welcome the chance to align themselves with either company. Glossing over the privacy concerns, these partnerships are good for consumers because they can produce better experiences for online consumers.
Greater Emphasis on Content
Though Google and Facebook occupy different niches with search and social media, in a way, they both deal with the same commodity: content. Google allows users to search and find content amongst the trillions of pages on the internet, and Facebook provides a place where people could create their own content and share it with others. Recent reports even suggest that Facebook has surpassed Google as a source for referral traffic. As the battle between Facebook and Google heats up, where people create content and where they find it will become important battlegrounds.
For Facebook, they want to gain a larger share of the traffic from people searching for content. To that end, the social network has partnered with several content publishers to get more content directly on Facebook. For example, Facebook is partnering with some professional reviewers to put their reviews directly on the Facebook Business Pages for the restaurants reviewed. This would eliminate the need for people to leave Facebook and search Google for professional reviews.
Similarly, Facebook is trying to steal some of YouTube's (another Google property) thunder by offering compensation for some video content creators who post their content on Facebook. Finally, Facebook is also upgrading its internal search to make it easier for people to find specific content (instead of just people and pages) by keyword.
For their part, Google is increasing the ways people can use the search giant to create and share content. Though it has yet to (and may never) rival Facebook in active users, Google+ is used often for social logins, to write reviews, to post content to YouTube and more. So though Google+ isn't as ubiquitous as Facebook on the social media seen, people are becoming more accustomed to using the platform in other ways. And Google is finding new ways to get that content seen, even if people aren't browsing Google+ on a regular basis. For example, by integrating reviews from Google+ users into Google Maps result cards, Google is increasing awareness and use of some Google+ features. Google is even becoming more adept at using social media tricks to increase views of the content, such as showing reviews from people in your Google+ circle on search results for restaurant, business and app reviews.
The Battle for Mobile
Though content will be the biggest commodity in the coming battle between Facebook and Google, the greatest battlefield will be mobile. Even now, Facebook, Google Search, Facebook Messenger and Google Maps are the most popular apps on all mobile devices. Fighting for the time people spend looking at their smartphones and tablets will be one of the most important battles in the coming war.
Mobile is so important because it's a more dynamic area where people are still shaping their behaviors. Most desktop users know when they are going to use Google and when they are going to use Facebook, those lines are pretty well defined. By comparison, mobile apps and devices are constantly evolving so people are more inclined to switch if they find something more useful. And with many people getting smartphones or tablets for the first time, there's no more important time than now trying to establish market share.
This year has seen a variety of a large changes to the main Facebook and Google apps. From new video options for Facebook and business replies for Facebook Messenger to new profile card designs for Google Search and new options in Google Maps, consumers and business owners can expect to see a lot of changes in 2016. Undoubtedly, these changes will create content marketing and advertising opportunities for business owners, which is something to be on the lookout for.
For more news about Google read this article about recent changes to the Google search algorithm.