Buzz, a technology playground for Google engineers to test social services with Gmail users, could in fact become the launch pad for Google Me, a speculative social network under development at Google, a rumor that Digg's Kevin Rose says is from a "pretty credible source."
If that Google Me rumor is true it could create a variety of social signals that would send any advertiser into nirvana. I doubt Google engineers think Facebook members would abandon the social network, so it would have to create a connecting technology that lets the two platforms coexist and members communicate across platforms.
"The problem with anything social Google does is Google users don't arrive at Google to be social," says aimClear Founder Marty Weintraub. Google can test what it likes. "We doubt that Facebook is threatened."
People learned to search with Google tools, not socialize, Weintraub says, calling Facebook the "best social tool on earth," in part, because of an "outstanding construct."
A social network would provide Google with many more signals to target ads. Aaron Goldman, principal at Connectual, brings up a good point. Take Buzz out of Gmail and build on the platform, so more people can access the social services to create for advertisers more "relevant" signals that would not only "improve search algorithms," but the way marketers design campaigns and target ads to consumers.
More signals: scary for consumers; great for advertisers. Don't think for a moment that Google lost sight of its core service.
Google needs a way to connect the social graph to Web site authority and Google Me could be its ticket, Goldman says. He reminds me that Facebook gathers tons of "powerful information about the authority and the utility of Web pages with each punch of the 'like' button." A social network would allow Google to map search with social graph data to understand consumer interests by audience segment. "Likes" could become more important than links for ranking search results because Facebook bases the concept on everyday people, not Web masters.
The plumbing of the Internet will become social, according to a Facebook spokesperson. Facebook continues to build that platform to connect the world through its open graph, instant personalization and social plug-ins. Some platforms are aimed at helping developers, while others are meant to connect partners such as Yelp, Microsoft Docs, and Pandora, making it easier for members to share information.
Search surfacing Open Graph-enabled pages is not completely new for Facebook. Since the announcement in April at f8, the Open Graph-enabled Web pages that you and friends like serve up in search results because these Web pages function as Facebook Pages.
While Facebook plans on continuing to test features, right now, search is not the focus of the team working on the product. The company continues to focus on discovery and enabling users to build out their profile by liking things around the Web.