Is Facebook Graph Search an advertising game-changer or a stalker's dream? Actually, it could be both.
Facebook expanded the beta version of its Graph Search on Monday, rolling out the feature to all English-speaking users in the U.S. It enables specific searches of your friends and the broader Facebook user base. For instance, you could search for "friends of friends who work at Facebook" or "Harvard University graduates who like Privacy" and find precisely those people, as long as their privacy settings allow the information to be searchable.
Graph Search is designed to be faster and more effective than the Facebook search, but the bottom line is that it could redefine how effectively the company can sell and target advertisements.
"Graph Search makes it possible for Facebook to produce an ad category that's unique to Facebook," said Max Wolff, chief economist and senior analyst at Greencrest Capital. "That more or less makes good on the ad pitch from Facebook, which is that it allows advertisers to have a targeted entry into social interaction."
He sees a big difference between the display ads that Facebook has now and the ones that could be integrated into Graph Search.
"We know that a Facebook display ad is a perfectly good display ad, but there's no real proof that a Facebook display ad is any different from any other display ad," Wolff said. "And an individual looking at a display ad is slightly less likely to buy that product than to get struck by lightning."