With Bing, That Sound You Hear Is Facebook & Twitter Saying, 'Ka-Ching!'
I know it's October, but it's time to do some spring cleaning on the old personal brand, doncha think?
The reason I say this, in case you haven't heard through one of your 16 social media channels, is that Microsoft is expected to announce later today that tweets and Facebook status updates will be searchable via Bing, expanding what we all perceived to be the potential audience for the inania that makes up our daily lives. Better yet, the deal is nonexclusive, which means, at any second, Google will be sifting through your boring life, too!.
But kidding aside, I do wonder if these deals are going to be more valuable to Twitter and Facebook than they are to us. According to AllThingsD, money will change hands, which is a relief, if you've ever fretted, as I have, about whether these organizations would ever actually learn to charge for what they offer. Facebook and Twitter are supposed to be getting paid both for offering their data streams to Bing and also through revenue-sharing deals, which presumably would involve getting a cut of the advertising revenue from Bing. That's good news, and -- not to contradict myself -- it actually may help users, since it makes money for both Twitter and Facebook without ads cluttering up the services themselves, because they won't reside there.
But let me be an ingrate and question just how valuable most of this data is. The answer is, it's not very valuable at all. Do you really think there would be a high click-through rate on ads promoting "hard-boiled eggs" that ran next to my hard-boiled egg tweet? How about the coffee one? A Starbucks VIA text ad, perhaps?
Of course these tweets of mine won't be moneymakers. But even if I'm oversimplifying, I think the main reasons these deals are coming together is for bragging rights on Bing's part, and also because an overriding belief here in 2009 is that just because data exists, it needs to be searchable. To prove my point, I just took a gander at a Bing-Twitter site that's already up; of course, a number of the current hot topics are devoted to Bing, Twitter and Microsoft. Social media types, including myself, are nothing if not navel-gazing.
In the long run, however, most of this data will be simply unimportant, except to marketers, news organizations and, perhaps, cultural anthropologists. The real revenue may be in custom data made available to companies and other entities trying to get a pulse on topics that are important to them, not in traditional search advertising.
As these deals are not yet announced, I've had to speculate wildly in this column -- maybe the contours of how these partnerships will work will prove different than the intelligence that's out there as of 3:15 p.m. EST. I decided to write about it anyway, because the arrival of real-time search is huge news. The question for the long term, however, is how big.