Facebook's Open Graph: Centre Of The Web?

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Facebook's Open Graph: Centre Of The Web?

  1. 1. 23/4/2010 Facebook’s Open Graph:The New Centre Of The Web? Facebook’s Open Graph: The New Centre Of The Web?
  2. 2. Facebook’s Open Graph:The New Centre Of The Web? 2010 Introduction Facebook’s rise has been one of the most discussed internet phenomena of recent years. And now, with the launch of its social plug-ins and Open Graph API, which build on Facebook Connect, it seems that Facebook is trying to cement that growth by putting itself at the centre of the web for its 400 million users. At first glance it’s hard to see how Facebook’s proposal are any different to the digg, delicious & reddit buttons that have littered the web since the boom days of Web 2.0. But there are two important differences, and the potential implications are massive. What Will Open Graph Do? Firstly, Facebook plans to use this data, and share it with its partners, to build a deep understanding of what people are interested in, what they like, and what connects them. With this information just about any site can start to build a social recommendation engine, where content or product is promoted to people based on things they, or their network of connections, have liked in the past. Secondly, by setting all of this as a default, Facebook is confirming its position as the nearest thing we have to a universal log-in on the web. Where Microsoft’s Passport and OpenID failed to gain traction, Facebook has already made giant strides. As Facebook’s Bret Taylor said at the launch of these developments, if FriendFeed (the site he used to work at) hadn’t been bought by Facebook, they would have removed all log-in options other than Facebook Connect. Open Graph’s Potential Impact So what does this mean for Facebook, for other publishers on the web and, lest we forget, for consumers? Facebook first: if Facebook wishes to depose Google as most people’s homepage and their jumping off point for navigating the internet, it needs to be able to build an understanding of the web in a similar, if not superior way, to the way Google has put itself at the centre of a universe of links. By making connections rather than links the prime currency of the web they’re setting themselves up to do this – why search for something on Google when Facebook’s Open Graph can tell you what you want before you even realise it? It would also mean that they become so firmly embedded into the very fabric of the web that it would be hard to get rid of them. Whilst the cost to consumers of leaving Facebook is zero, by making themselves indispensable, the energy required goes up exponentially. Little chance of doing a Bebo when you’re the only password most people use.
  3. 3. Facebook’s Open Graph:The New Centre Of The Web? 2010 And what of the publishers being encouraged, and agreeing, to embed these social plug-ins into their site? Well, anything they can do to increase engagement and interaction can only be a good thing. Platforms like YouTube, Twitter and Facebook are increasingly becoming the platforms that people use to share and discover content, and whilst these increase reach for publishers, they must be wary of seeing their ad revenues shift to the content distributors, just as they have with Google. But by enabling deeper interaction with content, and with the means to personalise content for all their readers, they can also offer a better sell to advertisers. CPM models can only benefit from users who hang around longer, whilst the moves towards payment based on engagement will also be strengthened through these deeper relationships. The one question that publishers will have to ask themselves is how this affects plans to move behind pay-walls. Because the same walls that will block Google, and hopefully drive revenue for the publishers that choose to implement them, could also block the kind of sharing and interaction that Facebook hopes to make the web’s default mechanism. Report by Ciarán Norris, Global Head of Social Media

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