In transcribing an interview that I had yesterday with Dave McClure (I will be publishing that interview later today), I began wondering about Google’s involvement with social networks. Google already has a highly successful social network, Orkut. Orkut is hugely popular in Brazil and is still continuing to grow, although not at the same pace as Facebook. Many have been speculating about Orkut’s involvement in the new social graph that Google is launching.
Rather than focusing on trying to compete directly with Facebook, Google should provide Facebook with tools that will help social networks as they transition into social platforms. One focus of this is analytics. As I wrote about this morning, Facebook has launched some extremely basic analytics for developers but this is a far cry from the details that Google Analytics currently provides. Not even Google built their own analytics system. Instead, they acquired Urchin and built upon it. So what is the next step for analytics?
Websites are going to want information about the users that are visiting their sites beyond city and state. Previously, this information was unavailable to visitors but thanks to social platforms, that information is slowly becoming available. So why doesn’t Google simply add those features into their adwords system as well as analytics? Rumor is that Google is already working on building these features. Currently, Google can already predict, with a relatively low margin of error, the gender and age of a website visitor.
Integration with social platforms will provide Google with even more detailed demographics. So while Google is preparing to announce their own social platform, they should be feverishly working to develop the system to integrate the more detailed demographic information into their ads and analytics. I’m pretty confident that they are. Once they do, it will make life a lot easier for Facebook who is either going to have to acquire another analytics company or build their own from scratch.