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How Would Your Social Media Strategy Change if Facebook Bought BING?
Posted on May 2nd 2012
These days we talk so much about disruption that we forget that one of the most disruptive companies around grew and revolved around search. Google used search to help us make sense of a massive web and then monetized it by radically changing the way advertising worked.
We talk of social media without pausing to remember that initially it only became important because it helped websites rank high through a website’s social signal that Google uses to assess its relevance. Search is still key to any business on the web and the recent outcry about the Google Penguin update which knocked thousands of legitimate websites, along with webspam, off Google’s top pages, proves that.
The notion that Facebook might buy BING is based on an industry rumour that surfaced just as the Facebook IPO was announced and which simply will not go away. Facebook’s somewhat surprising purchase of Instagram which was seen as a move designed to take a toy away from Google’s Android environment and add a passable mobile strategy to help calm pre-IPO shakes, has done nothing to quench the rumours.
If anything, an analysis of the reasons why Facebook might want to buy and Microsoft might want to sell makes nothings but good horse sense:
- Facebook’s search is a joke
- Microsoft’s search is a joke (at least in terms of market share)
- Facebook ads are delivering lower and lower returns
- Microsoft’s search is costing it $2.5 billion a year
- Microsoft is already a Facebook partner
- Facebook could exchange shares for BING
Need I go on? Valued at between $5 and $10 billion BING would have the kind of effect on the Facebook ecosystem that Zucke thought Facebook’s Timeline would (and didn’t). It would suddenly make sense of a chaotic environment, give companies which are abandoning shop and migrating to Google Plus, a reason to come back and could revive Facebook’s flagging ads.
Happening at a time when Google has come in for a lot of criticism in the way it handles search this is just the kind of move which would define Facebook’s role on the web and make the word disruption relevant once again. So, what’s stopping it? This is just it. Nothing.
There is actually nothing discernible stopping Facebook from acquiring BING and changing everything on the web again, except perhaps its CEO’s inclination. In the oft-questioned Instagram purchase Zuckerberg went over the Facebook board’s heads (or behind their backs, depending upon how you want to see it) and made a face-to-face, dollar-bag-of-loot offer to its founders. Having paid $1 billion for a phone app and taken some heat for it, he might be disinclined to get brave again and snap-up BING no matter how much sense it might make.