While the two online giants are frequently pitted as fierce competitors, Google’s local boss, Nick Leeder, has admitted Facebook’s success has forced the search giant to change its whole game plan.
Facebook and Google are seen as fierce rivals in the industry. Google is the search player which has spread its tentacles into almost every facet of the online world, while Facebook is the social media behemoth used by hundreds of millions of consumers globally.
Speaking at a round-table event hosted by the Media Federation of Australia’s talent development organisation, NGen, Google’s managing director in Australia and New Zealand conceded Facebook has had a major impact on the search giant’s strategy.
“We are looking at Facebook very hard,” Leeder said. “I think the company is teaching us a lot about social and Google is building [capabilities as a result of this].
“In fact, Facebook is changing the way Google thinks about its own business. We go through a complete rebuild of every single business we own, thinking about it from a social angle, and that’s actually what Google+ is.
“It’s not about Google+ in and of itself, it’s a rebuild of search, YouTube, Gmail, Google Apps and everything around social. Facebook has ignited a way of thinking that there are actually people out there on the web. It’s currently opening up an incredibly interesting space.”
The rivalry between the companies grew most pronounced last year when Google made its strongest play yet in the social space with the rollout of Google+, a social media initiative which pundits suggested was a direct attempt at taking down Facebook.
What ensued was a tit-for-tat battle for social dominance. Google+ launched with improved functionality, so Facebook changed its user functionality. Google+ rolled out group video calls, so Facebook revealed a partnership with video calling platform Skype. Facebook introduced group mobile messaging not long after Google+ implemented a similar feature.
Facebook is currently the stronger social player, closing in on a billion users globally while Google+ sits at around 250 million. Research also indicates Facebook users are more engaged than those on Google+, and spend considerably more time on Facebook.
This article first appeared in the 27 July 2012 print edition of AdNews.