The Social Graph Engine

FAQ of the day: What about Google Connect?

The short answer:

Anytime the large social networks make it easier for us to help our customers (web publishers) promote audience growth, it’s a very good thing.

The long answer:

While few and far between, my blog posts have always been about the opportunity large social networks and traditional portals have to begin serving publishers across the entire web.  I’ve used phrases like “open portal”, “anti-portal” and “the distributed web” to describe this opportunity.  In sum, if the major players hope to extend their ad networks to credible publishers across the web, they will have to earn that inventory by helping publishers grow their audiences. After all, Fox and NBC have to earn the right to place ads across their network of independent television stations by providing their affiliates’ programs that grow ratings. The same is true for internet ad networks.

Recent “openness” initiatives by MySpace, Google and Facebook Connect begin to ask the right question: How can we begin providing value to the universe of websites outside our domain? It’s a first step, but only a baby step.

While these initiatives allow website publishers to make limited use of mega-portal social information, they don’t empower publishers to aggregate and own their own user profiles and social graph information.   I believe this limitation is fatal if the major social networks hope to interoperate with high value web publishers in a meaningful way.  Moving forward all serious publishers want to contextually inform their advertising experiences and user applications with real-time user data that is unique to their audience. It is therefore essential that publishers own and control their own community profile management, reporting and social graph engine.

Providing publishers their own social graph engine is core to the KickApps product offering.  In fact all KickApps applications (e.g. UGC, social networking, widget building, programmable video players, media management, member management), along with 3rd party OpenSocial and Facebook apps, are fully integrated with the KickApps social graph engine out of the box.    What’s equally important is that we provide a full set of APIs, customizable feeds, widget builder tools and a plug-in architecture such that our publishers can easily build and deploy their own custom applications that make full use of our social graph engine.

The KickApps platform will certainly integrate with Google Connect, Facebook Connect and MySpace because these initiatives may help our website publishers accelerate audience growth by tapping into “friends” on the big social networks. But this value to publishers is modest relative to the benefits of leveraging their own social graph engine. KickApps will continue to earn long-lasting relationships with publishers because our sole mission is to serve them.

More analysis from around the web:

Google Friend Connect: What’s the Point? Mike Gunderloy, Web Worker Daily, GigaOm Network

Why should I, as a webmaster, set aside part of my page for you to have a conversation in? Why should you, as a user, come to my site to talk with your Facebook friends, rather than using Facebook? Why should I have to choose which identity to share with a site, rather than just logging in with OpenID and interacting with other users of that site? What are we getting in return for pushing another stream of data through Google?

Google Confirms Friend Connect Erick
Schonfeld, TechCrunch

But it is not there yet. For instance, it doesn’t work with Google’s Social Graph API, and many more social and identity networks still need to be connected.  …The bigger downside of Friend Connect is that Websites using it cannot mash up the data with their own to make compelling new applications. Glazer confirmed that the data will be sent to third party sites via an iframe rather than directly through a set of APIs (as Michael speculated on Friday).  However, Glazer also says that he wouldn’t be surprised if eventually Google or somebody else makes it possible for Websites to combine the Friend Connect data with their own.

Facebook Connect and Google’s Friend Connect Charlene Li, Groundswell

Prying Open the Social Graph Stacey Higginbotham, GigaOM

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