Analysts Discuss Facebook, Googles Places
Still, it's clear from this document the company was downplaying its potential. Facebook sees Places as a platform with unlimited ad potential. The introduction notes: "Facebook Places provides a presence for your business' physical store locations, encouraging your customers to share that they've visited your business by 'checking in' to your Place. When your customer checks into your Place, these check-in stories can generate powerful, organic impressions in friends' News Feeds, extending your brand's reach to new customers."Google Places has more than 4 million local businesses using its service. Facebook Places is a new entity that will require time to foment, analysts say. "At present Google Places and Facebook Places are largely distinct products," industry analyst Greg Sterling told eWEEK after publishing this piece on Facebook Places on Search Engine Land. "Facebook Places is of limited utility as a 'local search' tool today-just as 'search' on Facebook doesn't work well. Places is much more an extension of Facebook's core functionality built around physical locations, while Google Places has limited social functionality." Over time, Sterling said Facebook Places will gain advertising dollars from small and larger businesses, which will put it in a more competitive position against Google Places as a primary point of presence on the Internet. Sterling believes it's only a matter of time before Google adds social content or features to Places. Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray agrees, pointing to Google's rumored Google Me social network as a way Google Places may be infused with social tools. This would thrust Google and Facebook into more fierce competition. "To date, the way Google Places has worked doesn't seem quite as competitive to what Facebook intends, although it's easy to see how the race to 'own' the digital representation of a real world place can bring Facebook and Google into competition. "If that happens, then Google and Facebook will very much find themselves competing for both user adoption and localized ad dollars." Sterling said the local advertising and location-based services market is large enough for multiple successful companies. "However, a well-executed [Facebook] Places could command a great deal of consumer attention and mindshare," Sterling said. "Ultimately, rather than a zero-sum game, it's more likely that Google and Facebook Places will co-exist as two complementary sites and toolsets for consumers and marketers."
That "organic" advertising has promise, but it's more of a casual shout-out to brand exposure until businesses begin registering their own Facebook Places.