TripAdvisor & Facebook: the enemy of my enemy is my friend

Yesterday TripAdvisor launched a new version of their site. The key difference? Enabling Facebook’s instant personalization. This is suspiciously soon after blocking Google from displaying TripAdvisor reviews on google.com … these two events are related.

What does it do
Instant personalization takes your friends to the web with you. All the reviews and activities that your connections on Facebook have engaged in now become part of the website you’re visiting. So for TripAdvisor, I can see that my friends have recently reviewed a hotel, where my friends most popular destinations are, and so on. I can also see cities that my friends have visited – or pinned. It’s very cool, very social, very relevant, very interesting.

How it’s related
Yesterday I posted this on Twitter:

Google vs Facebook is like the cold war: USA vs USSR. I feel like a small African nation in the 70s … which do I choose to align to?

TripAdvisor is making a determination here – very publicly – that Facebook poses less of a challenge to their business model than Google. (Make no mistake … Facebook poses plenty of business challenges to plenty of sites, TripAdvisor included!) I think they’ve made the right call, simply because Google is much closer to centralizing all the features of the purchase decision all in one place, as Bing has recently done in some verticals:

  1. search (find products/services))
  2. comparison (compare products/services)
  3. completion (purchase products/services)

But this is not an easy call. There are two giants here fighting over the future of the web. Just as in the cold-war world … most companies will need to align in some way, shape, or form. Few will remain completely independent.

Google is trying to own the way we organize and find information – all information.

Facebook is trying to own the way we connect to and communicate with people – all people.

Obviously there is increasingly violent convergence between these two imperatives …

Google’s ambitions impinge on vertical sites like TripAdvisor (and many other sites, like that of my company, Canpages) who, guess what, want to also help people find stuff.

Facebook’s ambitions provide an option for sites that Google is squeezing to provide a different, more social, more contextualized, more personal, and potentially more relevant user experience.

The algorithm versus the social graph
Which will win? The cold calculating machines of Google, adding up links and tags and a myriad of other factors and arriving at a calculated relevance score for any given query? The implicit and explicit advice of my social circle?

We live in interesting times!

 


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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • I doubt if the two are directly related, though there is probably a strategic connection between the two. TA’s parent Expedia wants to maintain its current dominance of online travel booking and is rightly concerned to see Google muscling in. Google is shaping up to be their first major challenger, with its acquisition of ITA, so TA has judged it better to withdraw co-operation (not entirely successfully, as Google is still scraping a large number of hotel reviews from TA). TA is always looking to increase exposure and so becoming a Facebook “Instant Personalisation” partner makes sense to them, following the failure of their own attempt at creating a social network in 2008.