Here’s how Facebook could make money off of Graph Search

monetizing graph search

Facebook has finally made the jump into search, and while monetization isn’t being discussed as much as the existence of Graph Search itself, it’s only a matter of time before Facebook opens the floodgates currently holding advertisers back.

Analysts are buzzing about Graph Search’s monetization possibilities, with one analyst saying that one paid click per Facebook user could generate $500 million in additional revenue.

Currently Facebook has said that its hands are tied with smoothing out the kinks and solving the issue of scaling the platform up to handle the billion or so search queries that it already deals with. Zuckerberg responded to Graph Search’s monetization outlook by saying, “This could potentially be a business over time.” But we wouldn’t put it past the social network if in the next few months the first advertising unit or module on Graph Search is debuted.

So what will its ad products look like? We’ve got a few ideas on possible monetization schemes.

“Extend this Search”

facebook graph search extend this search

If you look at the screen shots or the promo video of Graph Search in action, you may have caught a glimpse of the section titled “Extend this Search.” From the looks of it, Graph Search recommends additional results based on your friend’s interests. The module itself reminds us of Twitter’s “Who to follow” box, which promotes relevant accounts to the top of that module. In similar fashion, if you’re looking for a music venue nearby that your friends have visited already (whether they’ve liked the venue’s Facebook page or checked in) there may be multiple results. Chances are that many venues won’t surface on that module. So how can Facebook give businesses an edge over competitors? By offering them the option to slip it a little money for some of that sweet, sweet real estate.

Related Searches

how facebook could monetize graph search still looking

Below the fold of “End of Results” there’s an additional field that says “Still looking? Try these related searches.” Here additional search terms are recommended to the users. While this may be a stretch, one way Facebook can monetize this section is by enabling advertisers to bid on certain keywords. Say you’re looking for “Photos from 2010” and Facebook recommends 2009 as an additional search query, advertisers could bid on the term “2009” and when clicked on and then have a photo from their Facebook page for example appear as the first photo in the results. But should Facebook attempt an ad strategy like this, it would have to be wary that search experience isn’t corrupted by brands.

Paid Results

In a similar manner to the related searches strategy that I mentioned above, paid opportunities for brands to interject their own content that shoot their content to the top of Graph results is a more realistic route. A strategy like this would provide an entirely native advertising experience. Take a look at Twitter’s Sponsored tweets and Tumblr’s Radar advertising program:  These ad programs fit seamlessly with the product and aren’t disruptive to the user experience. For instance if you’re searching for photos of friends from a recent skiing trip, you probably wouldn’t mind a photos of skiers and snowboarders from Red Bull’s or GoPro’s Facebook Page showing up.

Sponsored real-time search results

facebook graph search autocomplete

Google introduced the autocomplete real-time search feature, which it coined “Google Instant,” a few years ago and since then social networks Twitter and Facebook (and many other platforms with search) have followed suit. Facebook took their real-time search capabilities a step further with the integration of sponsored search results inside of the search box. To recap, Facebook app developers bid on specific search terms and when users type that query the developer’s app is recommended alongside the search results all inside of the search box. Say you’re typing “bars my friends like in New York City” into Facebook Graph, other bars could pay for a sponsored slot in the search results. Seeing as how Facebook Graph Search comes baked in with an autocomplete feature, we can’t see why Facebook wouldn’t offer recommendations to relevant advertiser’s pages when a similar feature is being promoted already. 

Restaurant listings

 facebook graph search restaurant listing promoted

Foursquare and Yelp should be very, very worried. One of the highlights of Facebook’s demo on Tuesday was the ability to discover venues and restaurants, and this offers a cornucopia of monetization strategies – most of which can be taken straight from Foursquare’s book. In fact analysts have downgraded Yelp’s financial outlook for this year in the wake of Facebook’s Graph Search announcement.

Restaurants can pay to have their establishment listing show up at the top of the results. This would be in the vein of Foursquare’s promoted updates ad program. Facebook is already talking about how businesses can use Graph Search to their benefit. 

It’s about the money

Graph Search might be a new concept, but it’s still search — and that means there’s money to be made. Analysts are upgrading Facebook to $37, meaning that if you believe them now is a good time to buy Facebook stock. The monetization schemes we discussed above are entirely native-based ad products. Keep in mind that the social network has partnered with Bing to support Facebook searches for everything that Graph Search isn’t equipped to handle. We’re sure that Facebook is benefiting from the traffic it directs to Bing, but we just don’t know how much; Facebook’s not spilling the details on that partnership.

Graph Search is a powerful new feature, and one we’ll benefit from. Of course, that means so will advertisers. 


Google hit with another fine by the EU, this time for $1.7 billion

Google has been fined for the third time by the EU, this time for breaching antitrust laws by requiring third-party websites using its search function to prioritize its ads over competitors.
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Cosmic dust bunnies: Scientists find unexpected ring around Mercury

A pair of scientists searching for a dust-free region near the Sun have made an unexpected discovery: a vast cosmic dust ring millions of miles wide around the tiny planet Mercury.
Social Media

Facebook may soon let you watch live TV with friends in Watch Party

Facebook Watch Party is designed to allow friends to watch together, even when they can't be in the same physical space. Now, that feature could be expanding to include live TV. Facebook announced a test of the feature, starting with live…
Social Media

Twitter takes a cue from Instagram and Snapchat with new quick-swipe camera

Twitter is giving the "what's happening" treatment to photos and video by allowing users to access the in-app camera fast enough to catch and share the moment. The new Twitter camera is now accessible with a swipe.
Social Media

Yep, it’s not just you. Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp are down for many

Facebook's family of apps has been suffering issues for much of the day. Instagram, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Facebook itself have been out of action for users around the world, with the company scrambling to sort it out.
Social Media

Federal investigation digs into Facebook’s data-sharing deals

Facebook confirmed it is cooperating with a federal criminal investigation. According to a report, the company is under investigation for sharing user data with smartphone and tablet companies.
Social Media

Facebook explains its worst outage as 3 million users head to Telegram

Facebook, if you didn't already know it, suffered a bit of an issue on Wednesday, March 13. An issue that took down not only its social networking site, but also Instagram, WhatsApp, and Messenger. On Thursday it offered an explanation.

Snapchat could soon let you play games in between your selfies

If a new report is accurate, Snapchat will be getting an integrated gaming platform in April. The platform will feature mobile games form third-party developers, and one publisher is already signed on.
Social Media

Twitter is testing a handy subscription feature for following threads

Twitter has recently started testing a feature that lets you subscribe to a thread so that you’ll no longer need to like a comment or post to it yourself in order to receive notifications of new contributions.
Social Media

Your Google+ public content will remain viewable on the web, if you want it to

Google's failed social network — Google+ — will soon be wiped from the internet, but there's a team of volunteers working right now to save its public content for the Internet Archive.

There’s more space on MySpace after ‘accidental’ wipe of 50 million songs

MySpace is no longer a safe refuge for music and media produced in the 2000s. It said that almost any artistic content uploaded to the site between 2003 and 2015 may have been lost as part of a server migration last year.

Intel and Facebook team up to give Cooper Lake an artificial intelligence boost

Intel's upcoming Cooper Lake microarchitecture will be getting a boost when it comes to artificial intelligence processes, thanks to a partnership with Facebook. The results are CPUs that are able to work faster.
Social Media

New Zealand attack shows that as A.I. filters get smarter, so do violators

The shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand were livestreamed to social media, and while stats show networks are improving at removing offending videos, as the system improves, so do the violators' workarounds.