Dan Taylor

Does Facebook Need to Fear Google in 2017? #smlondon

I’m going to go out on a limb here and make a prediction, 2017 will be the year Google that Google mounts a real challenge to Facebook’s dominance, as they buy Twitter. There I said it, in 2017 Google will buy Twitter.

There was a lot of talk in and around September/October 2016 about Google and Apple being the front runners to buy the struggling social network, but I think 2017 will be the year it happens and Twitter becomes a part of the Alphabet family of companies.

A brief history of Google’s relationship with social media networks

  • In 2004, Google launched Orkut which flopped. It is still active with ~100m users but most of those are in Brazil and India. The project never made it out of Beta.
  • In 2005 Google acquired Dodgeball, which ceased in 2009. The founder of dodgeball then went on to create FourSquare, which was essentially the same thing, Dodgeball was just a little bit too ahead of it’s time.
  • Google bought Jaiku from Finnish developers in 2007 but again, it ceased in 2009. Like Twitter, Jaiku statuses had a limit of 140 characters.
  • Also in 2009, Google launched Wave, which had a short life and from what I’ve been able to gather, it died a couple of months later.
  • In 2010 Google launched Buzz, which still exists as part of Google+. It was like Twitter, but with a firm footing within gmail.
  • Google+ was launched in 2011 and reached 25-million users within the first month. But by 2014 it was clear the networks early hype was beginning to die out, and it was likened to a ‘ghost town’ by many high profile users and publishers. In 2015 it went under a redesign and a lot of the functionality (as well as Google support staff) were removed from the project.
  • 2015 also saw the Google/Twitter firehose deal, which meant that like Tweets began appearing within Google results pages for live events and recognised personalities/entities.

But why? Why would Google buy Twitter? They already have Google+ and YouTube in their repertoire, so why would adding a third social network improve their situation?

Breaking news

Using the real-time Tweets that Google integrated into their search results as part of the fire-hose deal for breaking news was just the start. By owning Twitter, they also gain access to Twitter Moments as well as a lot of user generated content.

This could also spell disaster for Google’s competitors. It will be interesting to see the impact of this acquisition on Bing’s ability to search Twitter.

Data = Control

Google would gain access to Twitter’s data, more than 300-million user accounts. Using this data, Google can improve the relevance of adverts and recommendations on YouTube, as well as it’s own paid search advertisements and ad pricing.

That being said, Google’s AdWords will also improve Twitter’s paid advertising options, and the two will go hand in hand.

YouTube & Live Video

Video has become a huge growth area, with marketers rushing to optimise their video content, and the Twitter acquisition would see Google further dominate this space. Facebook is firmly backing Facebook Live and live video is growing more and more popular.

It’s also worth noting that Twitter beat Alphabet to strike a deal with the NFL to stream live video of games around the world, to an audience of millions.

Google acquiring Twitter would give them access to this deal, as well as ownership of Periscope. Integrating these into YouTube’s sphere of influence will give Google considerable ownership of video content online.