Facebook reported its Q1 earnings on Wednesday, and while it wasn’t talked about a great deal, the subject of Facebook’s efforts in search did come up during the ensuing conference call.
In his prepared remarks, CEO Mark Zuckerberg mentioned that Facebook is now seeing over a billion mobile searchers per day.
The mobile search number is noteworthy for a couple of reasons. For one, Facebook only updated is mobile search functionality to reflect its efforts in desktop search in Q4. The company announced in December that it was giving users the ability to surface posts based on keywords in search, and that this would be available for desktop as well as iOS and Android.
The second reason the amount of searches happening on mobile is significant is that this is a largely untapped opportunity for Facebook to increase its ad revenue in the long term. The more searches that happen on Facebook, the bigger opportunity this will be for the company and its advertisers.
Zuckerberg also mentioned search as one of three ways it’s “continuing to build a new generation of Internet services that are more useful, intuitive, and immersive (with the other two ways being artificial intelligence and virtual reality platform Oculus). He said Facebook will have more to share about all of these over the coming months. That’s pretty much all he had to say about search until the audience Q&A portion of the call.
Asked more about Facebook’s search efforts during the Q&A, Zuck said (via SeekingAlpha’s transcript of the call):
So we’re pretty early in this whole thing and there’s so much unique content that people share in Facebook that I think that that is the clear, unique opportunity to go for first, right? I mean there’s – if you think about the overall web, there’s a lot of public content that’s out there that any web search engine can go index and provide. But a lot of what we can get at are recommendations on products and travel and restaurants and things that your friends have shared, they haven’t shared publicly, and knowing different correlations, or interesting things about what your friends are interested in, and that’s the type of stuff, those are questions that we can answer that no one else can answer, and that’s probably going to be what we continue to focus on doing first. And I think what you’re seeing is that as we enable more use cases and as we just get a lot of the basics right around performance and bringing the mobile features into parity and beyond what we’ve been able to do on desktop, the volume is growing quickly.
I think on a recent earnings call we just announced that we passed 1 billion searches total so now being more than 1 billion on mobile shows some progress that I’m pretty proud of for the search team.
Personalized search is no doubt an area where Facebook should be able to compete with other services. Yahoo is working on something to that effect, and apparently thinking it can make a big impact with ages-old Yahoo Mail messages. I think Facebook’s ridiculous amount of personal data has a lot more potential to make such an impact. Yahoo has been talking a lot about the value distribution partnerships. It may want to look at Facebook for some opportunities.
One analyst asked Facebook if it Facebook expects to leverage its 2 million advertiser relationships against third-party search queries: “For example, when a user searches on, say, Yahoo! or maybe some Apple device, Facebook might tap in to advertisers to provide relevant sponsored results.”
COO Sheryl Sandberg simply stated that the company has no plans to work with marketers in such a way.
On the company’s previous earnings call, Zuckerberg noted that its recent search changes at resulted in indexing a trillion posts. And that was a quarter ago.
You can read more about what Zuckerberg has said about search in the past here.
Images via Facebook