2Q EARNINGS: The Future of Search on Facebook

By David Cohen 

PushingSearchButton650A common perception of Facebook’s efforts on the search front is that they have stalled since its introduction of Graph Search at the beginning of last year, but this is not so, Co-Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Wednesday during the company’s second-quarter earnings call.

Zuckerberg said during his opening remarks:

Next, let’s talk about understanding the world. As of last month, on average, more than 1 billion search queries are made every day on Facebook. This is a great milestone, and it shows that we’re in a unique position to answer a lot of questions for people. But this is just a start. And over the next few years, as we make progress on building out search and our broader efforts in artificial intelligence, I expect us to deliver even greater utility for people.

Later on during the call, in response to a question from Deutsche Bank Analyst Ross Sandler about Facebook’s recently introduced App Links deep-linking initiative for mobile applications, Zuckerberg replied:

I don’t have much color that’s useful to share here on App Links. It’s still early. People have marked up a bunch of apps with this metadata that allows us to search for it, but search for Facebook is going to be a multiyear voyage, and there is just so much content that is unique to the Facebook ecosystem that we can answer questions for you that really no other service can. The other day, I was curious about finding out which of one of my friend’s friends worked at a company. I don’t know any other service where you can just go do that query, but on Facebook, you can, and the secret to this is going to be basically just over a long period of time indexing all of the different content that’s on Facebook in every different way.

So we started off with people. There’s obviously a need to be able to find people in order to use the product and add friends and just have our core kind of ecosystem work, but we’re indexing more into connections, and now we’re getting into more of the content, and it’s a huge amount of content. I think there were more than 1 trillion posts, which some of the search engineers on the team like to remind me is bigger than any Web search corpus that’s out there. But that’s just kind of one part of the data, and we’re going to keep on doing more and more. We’re going to start of focusing on stuff that’s unique to Facebook, where you couldn’t really answer those questions elsewhere.

App Links by definition of being outside of Facebook are not going to be unique to Facebook. So we’ll get to that over time. I think it will be a valuable part of the ecosystem. But honestly we’re mostly interested in that to enable value for other developers and pushing distribution to them than we are for our own search. It’s going to enable interesting ways for a developer to be able to make a set of people in their app, where they can share content on Facebook and then link directly to the right part of the app and enable some engagement ads. So that way, a developer can say a person was using my app and they were going to buy something, but they dropped out of the checkout flow. So we’re going to have an ad that helps them link right back to the checkout flow, so that they can complete their conversion. And you want deep-linking to be able to enable things like that, but it’s going to take a while for it to play out with search.

Readers: What would you like to see Facebook add to Graph Search or its other search features?

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