According a report on CNBC Microsoft is planning to expand its advertising relationship with Facebook this fall by adding web search to the social networking site. Live Search on Facebook is something that Greg Sterling predicted back in October of last year, and its true: it’s a no-brainer. The two companies should have done it the second the ink dried on the $240 million check Microsoft wrote to Facebook last fall.
Facebook has 90 million active users (according to their stats page) and comScore says that they’re serving 157 million search queries each month (though curiously, Facebook reported that they were already serving 600 million searches per month a year ago when they had about a third of of the number of users — the discrepancy could be due to comScore measuring only US searches). That’s good for 9th on comScore’s list of sites where search activity is observed.
Granted most of those search queries are likely for people, groups, events, or applications, but with the addition of Facebook Pages last November, it is likely that the site is seeing more product and entertainment related searches. If Microsoft and Facebook can convince enough of the site’s 90 million users to start performing web searches from within Facebook, that could be a boon for Microsoft and actually put a small dent in Google’s search market share.
Web search on Facebook was something I called for in May, but noted that in order for it to happen, Facebook would have to do something it has never seemed to want to do: let its users wander off site. However, with the launch of Facebook Connect yesterday, Facebook appears to be less concerned with keeping users on Facebook at all times.
Facebook offers Microsoft a potential foothold in the search market if the two companies can turn Facebook users into web searchers. That doesn’t seem like such a leap, especially if they do as Mashable suggests and try something unique that leverages Facebook’s social connection data to enhance the search experience. We’re hoping to see something disruptive this fall.