Consumers and Analysts on Google’s Search Plus Your World

1/11/12 | 2:20:00 PM

“It’s About Time”; “It’s a Great Product” that “Gives Users Control”;

“Google Had No Choice” Since “Social Is the Future”

Analysts: Search Plus Your World “A Great Product And Represents a Very Important Milestone in Search; “Remember That...Years Ago, Image and Shopping and News Results Were Not Included in the Basic Web Search, Either”

Rocky Agrawal, VentureBeat, January 11, 2012

People have been doing a form of social search in a very inefficient way by using Facebook status updates to pose questions to friends. . . . With SPYW, Google automates this process and makes it instantaneous. Instead of relying on users to actively respond to my request, I get access to all of the previous activity they’ve shared. If a second- or third-degree friend shares content about a topic, I instantly have access to it. Think of it as word-of-mouth on steroids. . . . SPYW is a great product and represents a very important milestone in search.”

Clint Boulton, eWeek, January 10, 2012

Google finally managed to fashion a credible social search solution, using its Google+ network to include Picasa photos, posts and other personalized content in users' search results...The new feature is a way to combat the "faceless Web" problem of highly impersonal search results Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and the rest of the search vendors have provided for the last decade and a half.”

Jeff Roberts,, January 10, 2012

“From a design perspective, the product looks good. . . . The product also makes sense from a conceptual point of view. People value Google’s all-powerful search algorithm and will likely enjoy applying it to their own online lives.

Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land, January 10, 2012

“Overall, I like the integration that allows for searching through private and public material. As I’ve said, I think many people will find it useful.

Jolie O’Dell, Venture Beat, January 10, 2012

“If you, like your curmudgeonly correspondent here, bristle at the thought of yet another change to what was once a simple, beautiful product, remember that short months and years ago, image and shopping and news results were not included in the basic web search, either.

Chris Crum, WebProNews, January 11, 2012

Part of the reason I use multiple products from Google is because I expect there to be integration. It’s often disappointing when that integration is lacking. It makes things less usable. If I’m signed in to my Google account, I want easy access to content that’s related to my Google account. If I want things from Facebook or Twitter, I know where to look.”

Personalization Is “Holy Grail of Web Search”; “Social Is the Future”; “For Google To Ignore This Reality Would Be Catastrophic”; Google Would Risk “Being Shunted Aside”

Stephen Shankland, CNET, January 11, 2012

“But Google had no choice [to personalize its search results]. . . . Google can't simply ignore social information. Because -- perhaps you may have noticed -- social connections are a force that's rebuilding the Internet. . . . For Google to ignore this reality would be catastrophic. The first thing that would happen is that genuinely useful search results would be missing, degrading the quality of Google's prime business. Second, because people will seek out socially influenced information, its absence from Google would lead people to search for it elsewhere.”

Miguel Helft, Fortune, January 10, 2012

This kind of personalization has long seen as a holy grail of Web search. Facebook has been working with Microsoft to allow that company's search engine, Bing, to surface more personalized content. And the Facebook platform has allowed countless services, like Yelp, Pandora and Spotify, to become more personal by showing users content that is relevant to their Facebook friends.”

Claire Cain Miller, New York Times, January 10, 2012

Google excels at responding to search queries with links to Web pages, but those have become old-fashioned. These days, the company has concluded, Internet users increasingly want to find conversations and photos posted by their friends on the social Web. . . . Google has risked being shunted aside for failing to get on board with the social Web.”

Mike Isaac, Wired, January 10, 2012

“And as users flocked to the [social] platform, a different kind of search evolved. It was a search based on items which users didn’t even know they wanted. Facebook begat “likes,” a way of notifying others that you like (or are at the very least interested in) something. ‘Likes’ spread fast, and liking became another way to find new and relevant content from friends. And as Facebook widened its reach over time, Google fell further and further behind.

Rich Oakley, Entrepreneur, January 11, 2012

“The truth is, though, that the functionality is awesome. We all know very well that social context is the next revolution in web search, and for Google to ignore that would be their downfall.”

Okung Nyo, The Verge, January 11, 2012

Social is the future, and sooner or later Google was going to have to integrate Google+ into search, just as they have done with Gmail, Reader, aka any other Google service. It was only a matter of time. There was no alternative choice, other than to pray that technology won't evolve...Telling Google not to integrate Google+ into search would be like telling Apple not to use iOS to promote its Newsstand platform or its social iMessage messenger, or Microsoft not to use Windows to promote Bing.”

Search Plus Your World “Leaves the User in Control,” “A Big Step In Terms of Transparency and Control,” Makes It “So Easy to Flip Back and Forth” Between Settings; “Google Might Have Popped the Filter Bubble”

Jon Mitchell, ReadWriteWeb, January 10, 2012

“[T]he new Google unveiled today leaves the user in control...If you don't want Google+-flavored results, just switch to global mode. You can even turn off personalized search altogether. I expect that social search will be better in some cases and worse in others. It's great to have the option. . . .Today's update shows good faith. Google has given its users control.

Eli Pariser, Author of “The Filter Bubble,” Wired, January 10, 2012

“‘It’s definitely a big step in terms of transparency and control. It’s kind of awesome to see them do this,’ he told me. . . . [A]t first blush, he says it seemed to really address the concerns he raised in his book. In one fell swoop, Google might have popped the Filter Bubble.

Pallab De, Techie World, January 10, 2012

“While there are plenty of cases where a personalized result will be more relevant, there are plenty of occasions where they will in fact be detrimental. Personalized search often creates a myopic world where new and useful information is buried beneath the familiar and old. . . . Fortunately, Google also realizes this. For the first time ever, it will be really easy to opt out of personalized and social search. With the click of a button you will be able to toggle between global results and your personal results, on a query to query basis. You will be able to see and judge the pros and cons of personalized search for yourself.”

Alexis Madrigal, The Atlantic, January 10, 2012

“There are some excellent new things about the design of the new personal search results. For one, Google added a toggle to the upper right corner of the search page that allows you to switch between global results and your personal set of results. That's a nice way to opt-out on a case-by-case basis and lets us maintain something like a universally legible Internet. They also added a blanket opt-out to the new personal search results, which is commendable as well.

Ron Miller, Fierce Content Management, January 11, 2012

[I]t seems to me that Google has come to a reasonable compromise here. You can incorporate the personal content if you wish, but you can keep it hidden as well. One of the design problems Google faced was finding a way to keep the results from getting too cluttered and this approach certainly achieves that.”

Consumers: Search Plus Your World “Beneficial to Users;” “A Good Move In the Right Direction”; “It’s About Time” “My Mind is Blown...Amazing”

Adam Kubalica, comment on The Next Web, January 10, 2012

“I prefer knowing about something from my friends than from anybody else in the first place, so it's great move and a natural one.”

t_ornjira, comment on Mashable, January 10, 2012

“‘Search Across Your World’ Making the most of its resources. Beneficial to users by enlarging search results and fair enough to them in term of their privacy.”

Zsolt Ciznadia, comment on Mashable, January 10, 2012

“A good move in the right direction.”

bethbeck, comment on Mashable, January 10, 2012

“Now I’m glad I got involved with Google+ early. Being about to query (search) my social network, along with the larger whole of online data, makes social networking even more valuable. Thanks for sharing!!”

Stephen, comment on Screenwerk, January 10, 2012

“If you think about it, it is great for local companies because, if someone is searching for their service they will pop up on the listings if the person searching is close to the business. Especially, if someone in the searchers circle has +1 that company.”

@AndrewGirdwood, Tweet, January 11, 2012

“Really enjoying playing with Search plus Your World so far. It feels good. Natural and yet connected.”

@patrickaltoft, Tweet, January 11, 2012

“Just tried Google Search plus Your World & my mind is blown. Amazing.”

@EmilyatPegasus, Tweet, January 11, 2012

“Trying out Search Plus Your World. Gotta admit, when Google goes social, I'm usually not a fan - but they hit the mark on this one.”

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols, ZDNet, January 11, 2012

As for me, I’ll be using Personal search from here on out as my default. I’m already finding it darn useful. If you’re also already a Google+ user, I think you will too.”

Search Experts: Social Signals Will “Improv[e] the Relevancy of Results” and “Add Extra Depth” to Search

Kevin Gibbons, Founder of SEOptimise, eConsultancy, January 11, 2012

I think this update is more about Google improving the relevancy of results via a more personalised search experience. There was an interesting study by Nielsen a couple of years ago, and this stated that 42% of people trust search engine results, while a huge 90% trust recommendations from people they know. In my opinion that is the biggest threat social media/search brings to Google, the ability to provide personal recommendations. So it's clear that this is something they have to get better at if they want to retain such a dominant market share in the long-term.”

Andrew Girdwood, Media Innovations Director at Bigmouthmedia, eConsultancy, January 11, 2012

“I’m excited by Search plus Your World. The video teaser was tantalising in that it sketched a picture but we’re yet to see exactly how Search+ will work. This is such a potentially big change to Google that it is frustrating that we cannot yet examine every atomic detail. Search plus Your World looks like a Google I would like to use. I really hope it works well with real time. Friends are best for news curation and breaking news needs real time. Search+ also adds extra depth to Universal Search. It’s all well and good search returning pictures of products but better to have pictures of products and holiday scenes with a social context.

“Bing Has Had a Longstanding Partnership to Use Facebook Data,” But Social Network Content Has Been “Basically... A Black Hole” for Google

Jason Kincaid, TechCrunch, January 10, 2012

“The idea of integration social with search isn’t unique to Google, either — Bing has had a longstanding partnership to use Facebook data in its results, and it will also serve up posts your friends have shared alongside its search results.”

Liz Gannes, All Things D, January 10, 2012

The content created by users of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks is mostly inaccessible to search — due to privacy settings, limited real-time APIs and competitive reasons. Posts on social networks basically go into a black hole, save for a few efforts like Bing’s Facebook integration.”

Mike Isaac, Wired, January 10, 2012

“Google and Facebook made headlines last year after Google alluded to issues with indexing Facebook users’ individual profile data for Google’s search results. In vague terms, Google search seemed limited in how much Facebook data it was privy to. And in an age where social sharing has grown far more relevant than ever before, that’s a huge chunk of pertinent information.”

The Economist, January 11, 2012

[Google’s] desire to give search a more social flavour is a response to the rise of Facebook, which is encouraging people to find information via their network of online friends. Many people expect the giant social network, which has some 800m active users compared with Google+’s 65m, to push even further into Google’s search stronghold in future. . . . Facebook, in particular, has been determined to keep most of the rich data it is gathering about its users out of competitors’ clutches. And although Twitter may squawk about Google’s behaviour, it, too, has been reluctant to share more information with a rival.”

Berin Szoka, Geoff Manne & Ryan Radia, The Technology Liberation Front, January 12, 2012

If you were CEO of Twitter or Facebook, would you really think it was a net-win if your users could use Google search as an interface for your site?. . . . Would Facebook really want to let Google become the tool for searching social networks—one social search engine “to rule them all“? Or would Facebook prefer to continue developing “social search” in partnership with Bing? On Bing, it can control how its content appears—and Facebook sees Microsoft as a partner, not a rival (at least until it can build its own search functionality inside the web’s hottest property). . . . It’s simply not clear that Google’s rivals would even want to participate in SPYW.”

Twitter Is “Every Bit As Accessible As Before”; “Nothing [Has] Changed” “People Will Not Find it Harder to Discover Things From Twitter”

Elinor Mills, CNET, January 10, 2012

But it's a bit of a stretch to say Google's new function could make Twitter information harder to find, since it's every bit as accessible as before. If anything, Twitter lost much more visibility last July, when its two-year-old deal allowing Google to index and display real-time tweets expired.”

AJ Kohn, SEO and Marketer, Google+ post, January 10, 2012

“There might not be crying in baseball but there is certainly whining in technology. Be better Twitter. If your Tweets are so amazing and vital to query intent then prove it and develop an awesome search experience that people flock to in droves. But asking someone else to take mercy on you because your own product isn't up to snuff? That is wrong. P.S. - Twitter, in case you're confused, Google is not a public service.”

Lucian Parfeni, Softpedia, January 11, 2012

“Twitter has some valid concerns, but it does exaggerate a bit. People will not find it harder to discover things from Twitter, nothing changed, the same organic results will be shown and many of them may contain links to Twitter, though sometimes lower in the page since personal results will be mixed in.”

Chris Crum, WebProNews, January 11, 2012

“Surprisingly, even Twitter spoke out against the [Search plus Your World] features, implying that it would somehow reduce access to tweets. I’m still trying to figure out how it would do so, as nothing about Google’s announcement indicates this would be the case. This would apply more to Twitter and Google failing to reach an agreement over realtime search last year, but for some reason, Twitter chose this announcement to be the time to bring this up.”

Jeff Jarvis, Author of What Would Google Do?, Google+ Post, January 11, 2012

“Me thinks the platform doth whine too much. Twitter: Open up our content to us and to search engines and then if Google doesn't present it you'll have grounds to complain. But now, not only can't Google get it but we can't get at what we write. It's API time. Think open. Google has a Data Liberation Front. You need one, too.”

Dave Winer, Scripting, January 11, 2012

“And it's not surprising either that Twitter is upset, but what is surprising is the sheer chutzpah of Twitter complaining about Google shutting them out after Twitter unilaterally reversed course and put most of their developer community out of business when they announced they wanted to completely own the Twitter client business.”

Legal Experts: “There Is No Such Evidence” of Anticompetitive Harm; This “Is Not Antitrust”; Not Going to Move the Enforcement Meter Even a Millimeter”

Joshua Wright, George Mason University School of Law, January 10, 2012

Personalizing search results makes (at least some!) users better off. When Google or Facebook or Twitter is able to integrate functions of search and social networking to create something different and demanded by consumers, that consumers enjoy and derive surplus from, this is a competitive benefit. Competitive benefits count in antitrust because they make consumers better off. This is very basic. But worth repeating. The antitrust question is whether, despite these obvious efficiencies, there is plausible evidence of anticompetitive harm -- that is, harm to competition rather than individual rivals like Bing, Twitter, or Facebook. My personal view -- which I’ve written about at great length here, here, and here -- is that there is no such evidence.

Mark A. Lemley, Director, Stanford Program in Law, Science & Technology, in The New York Times, January 10, 2012

“It can’t be the rule that if Facebook says no, you can’t search our links, that Google can’t search its own links. That is not antitrust.

Eric Goldman, Director of High Tech Law Institute, Santa Clara University School of Law, in Forbes, January 10, 2012

“In that sense, Google’s decision to use Google+ signals instead of tweets to provide more relevant, personalized results can be viewed as a buy vs. build decision, and Google made the 'build” choice. “It’s a rational economic response to the marketplace, so it could be viewed as pro-competitive,” says Goldman. What about Twitter’s complaint? To Goldman, it sounds less like a valid antitrust claim and more like the usual “bitching” of intermediaries -- such as Kayak has done in response to Google’s travel search results–when they’re faced with losing their pole position with consumers.”

Berin Szoka, Geoff Manne & Ryan Radia, The Technology Liberation Front, January 12, 2012

“In general, as with issues surrounding the vertical integration claims against Google, product design that hurts rivals can (it should be self-evident) be quite beneficial for consumers. Here, it’s difficult to see how the exclusion of non-Google+ social media from SPYW could raise the costs of Google’s rivals, result in anticompetitive foreclosure, retard rivals’ incentives for innovation, or otherwise result in anticompetitive effects (as required to establish an antitrust claim).

Marvin Ammori, Former U. Nebraska Law Professor, Huffington Post, January 11, 2012

I also don't see the antitrust problem. . . . But being a monopoly is not enough -- that is the natural result of having better search results. To be illegal, under leveraging theory as I understand it, Google would also have to have a "dangerous probability" of monopolization of the new market--social. (Trinko, note 4) No offense to Google, but I just don't see how Google has a dangerous probability of knocking off Facebook in social.

Berin Szoka, Geoff Manne & Ryan Radia, The Technology Liberation Front, January 12, 2012

“[I]t’s clear that Facebook and Twitter don’t need access to Google search results at all, much less its relatively trivial SPYW results, in order find, and be found by, users; it’s difficult to know from what even vaguely relevant market they could possibly be foreclosed by their absence from SPYW results. Does SPYW potentially help Google+, to Facebook’s detriment? Yes. Just as Facebook’s deal with Microsoft hurts Google. But this is called competition. The world would be a desolate place if antitrust laws effectively prohibited firms from making decisions that helped themselves at their competitors’ expense. After all, no one seems to be suggesting that Microsoft should be forced to include Google+ results in Bing.”

David Balto, Former FTC Policy Director and Antitrust Attorney, quoted in Law 360, January 11, 2012

“‘This isn't going to move the enforcement meter even a millimeter. This kind of integration is something that consumers should cheer for,’ Balto said. . . . Despite the alarm from competitors and consumer advocates, Balto said federal regulators would be unlikely to seriously pursue the complaints because Google was expanding its service without trying to block competitors' products. The only threat to Facebook and Twitter is the “good healthy threat” of a competent competitor, Balto said, and the strengthening of Google+ could provide consumers an alternative to Facebook's dominance in the social media sphere.”

George A. Hay, Cornell University Law Professor, quoted in Law 360, January 11, 2012

“An antitrust complaint against Google's personalized searches would be a hard sell, according to Cornell University law professor George A. Hay, because a violation would have to lead to a monopoly in social networking — unlikely, given Facebook's dominance — or suppress competition to strengthen its existing dominance over search. ‘Monopolizing something is not just having a monopoly; it's doing something bad to gain or maintain that monopoly,’ Hay said. ‘It doesn't look like this is going to do anything to cement their monopoly in search.’”

Robert Lande, University of Baltimore Law Professor, quoted in Law 360, January 11, 2012

“[F]ederal regulators would be unlikely to seriously pursue the complaints because Google was

expanding its service without trying to block competitors' products. ‘It's the difference between a competitor running faster and that competitor throwing a stumbling block in the path of someone running toward the same finish line,’ University of Baltimore law professor Robert Lande said.”

Industry Commentators: Competitors’ Complaints Seem “Disingenuous”; “Google Can’t Produce Something It Doesn’t Have”

Lauren Weinstein, Co-Founder of People for Internet Responsibility, January 10, 2012

“When you're logged in to Google, you're not just logged in to Search, but to the the entire array of associated services in which you participate. So it makes a great deal of sense for integration of (for example) G+ postings into search results. Given that Twitter and Facebook do not surface their users' postings to Google in a comprehensive manner, complaints that the new service arrangement unfairly favors G+ seem moot. The only way such complaints could have any validity would be if those non-Google services made their users' postings available in a manner that would allow Google to treat them equally with G+ for ranking purposes, and then Google unfairly ranked them. But under the current situation, where those other services' postings are not generally available to Google, arguing that Google should not provide convenient G+ integration with Search just because the other services haven't wanted to play ball, seems rather disingenuous.

Devin Coldewey, TechCrunch, January 11, 2012

“The [Search, plus Your World] service is incomplete — that’s inarguable. But there is no malevolence to its incompleteness, and I’m not convinced that it’s Google’s responsibility to make it complete. . . . The new search type is a deep search, providing rich data. What rich data does Facebook share? What deep search does Twitter permit? Google can’t produce something it doesn’t have, and what it does produce isn’t destructive to search — and if it were so, it can be turned off with a click. The suggestion that people won’t do this is at best poppycock, and at worst — flimflam. . . . Google wants to provide socially-determined search. Facebook and Twitter want you to do that kind of social search within their sites. . . . The objectives of these three big billy goats gruff, I said, are at odds, and it won’t do to say that Google should have access to Facebook data, or Twitter shouldn’t be providing recent tweets to display under someone’s handle in search. No one gets priority, because they’re all just companies trying to make a buck.

Matthew Yglesias, Slate, January 11, 2012

But raising the spectre of antitrust law in this regard is bound to founder on the fact that there's no monopoly power for Google to be abusing. A 65 percent market share in web search is big, but by no means a monopoly. And there are basically zero barriers to switching from Google Search to Bing. I did it a couple of months ago on my Mobile Safari browsers because Google was annoying me, and there's no discernable quality difference (I use Chrome on my MacBook Air).”

Frank Reed, Marketing Pilgrim, January 12, 2012

“Why can’t we just get off the bandwagon that Google owes the world something? It gives the world something, it does it well and it is rewarded handsomely for a good service that is needed. . . . If you asked the average guy on the street as to whether or not he gives a rip that Google makes a lot of money providing its service and if they think they should be limited in what they provide as a result, most would . . . say they will take what they can get for free as long as it works well enough to help them do what they want to do.”