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The difference between Facebook and Google

February 8, 2014

When I have my marketing hat on, there are two kinds people online: shoppers and buyers.

Thanks to Google, buyers are easy to spot – when I was looking to buy black socks recently, I googled “black socks”, fought the urge to read about Shoeless Joe (did you mean black sox? Google asked sheepishly), and bought some black socks.

Google Chrome

Google Chrome (Photo credit:

Google sells adwords around the term “black socks,” and perhaps “black sox,” because marketers  only pay for the click. For someone selling back socks, a click on a Google search for black sox is basically a sale. That is the reason all the people at Google are gazillioanires.

On the other side of the generalization is everyone else. I rather glibly called them “shoppers”, but we also call them people who might be inclined to buy stuff at a later date. As you can see, that’s a pretty long title, and makes for the planet.

Buyers go to Google, then to a place to buy things. Google isn’t letting go of this market. They own it, have built an amazing Googleplex (I visited, I know) with the proceeds, and now want to make drivable cars and solve other world problems.

So what if a different company could predict what you might buy?

The Facebook “like” button is an attempt to predict your desires.

Here’s how it would work. A person writes on their profile that they like “beer”. That person then goes to the internet, still logged into Facebook, and is shown a beer ad (Facebook knows they’re the right age, they tell Facebook their age.)

Ads become relevant to desires. We can already do that on the Facebook platform. We can boost content to people in New York who like Yogurt and have kids under 3.

Imagine a time when that ad is on ESPN and is no longer a quant boost, but an actual ad.

In theory, the more a person “likes” on Facebook, the more data sets marketers can use to advertise to them.

We marketing folk can already use this data. If a marketer has an idea about what their target market (shopper) likes, then Facebook can tell them how many people are out there.

When Facebook launches their ad platform (and they will), we’ll have another option for “shopper” marketing. Google wins the buyer market, Facebook wins the internet.


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