Why Twitter’s search deals are more than just added noise

Today both Microsoft (in its search guise of Bing) and Google announced deals bringing Twitter and real-time search into their search engines. Many bloggers and tweeters are dismissing these announcements as an added level of noise to search that they don’t wish to see on their search. I have to disagree, to the point that I think they are completely missing the point of these deals. The tweets themselves aren’t really what Google and Microsoft are after, its the social networking, and content distribution information that they want. I’ll try and break it down.

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The tweeters themselves hold a certain level of interest to both companies, as bringing your tweets into their search engine, and particularly your Windows Live and Google accounts, will help them to bring those personalised advertisements to you, and make them more relevant than ever, its the contents that you post, and its relationship to what is being said, and how often thats the most important. By being able to count the amount of times a certain page is linked to, and a certain topic is being mentioned, Google and Microsoft will be able to add a level of relevancy to your search that could only have been dreamed of in the recent past.

Take for example, the two major Twitter related stories from last week, involving Carter-Ruck & Trafigura as well as Jan Moir’s take on the death of BoyZone star Stephen Gately in the Daily Mail. Searching for any of the above as the stories broke would take you to generalised pages from both engines about the companies themselves, and perhaps old content about the two.

By adding Twitter, the content that users actively search out and share that is instantly relevant is made clear to Google and Bing within minutes of it becoming hot on Twitter. Search results become more relevant in the immediate instance. Things that are popular with the internet populous become more visible, and as such Google and Bing can deliver more accurate and relevant results. By taking that information, and looking at the other topics that people posting about it also talk about, the two companies can give you the information that you want without you even realising it.

It is safe to say, for example, that anyone that is interested in those stories, could generally be considered a supporter of gay rights, and someone who is interested in corporate justice and accountability. Suddenly services like Google News can become even more relevant, giving you the topics that have interested you, and the internet at large. Google Reader can take that information and supplant your feeds with even more relevant suggestions for you. Sure, the feeds you read regularly are available for them to give suggestions, but adding an instant level of relevancy will allow them to profile you as you age, and your opinions evolve and change.

Currently Twitter doesn’t run advertising, and therefore it doesn’t make a profit. Twitter insist that this isn’t an issue, as they have the cash, due to private equity, to run for years without having to. They might say this, but any business, especially one that has become as popular as Twitter, cannot continue forever without a cash flow. No one knows the deals that Twitter has in place with the search engines, but they certainly will not be giving away the content for nothing. By taking percentages of any advertising, Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! (who will soon be using Bing as its search engine) will be essentially paying, by the way of their advertising, for your use of Twitter.

Real-time search is the current holy grail for search in 2010. Admit it, how many times have you seen a news story and decided to Google it to find out more information? Like I said before, many do. Some of these people then post it to Twitter, which may, if it gains traction, get retweeted. Suddenly all that data about you isn’t just generally relevant to your tastes and opinions, it is ranked in popularity and relevance to you, but also the people you know, the people you don’t know – but should. It also will give Bing and Google a barometer of opinion. Are comments about Jan Moir mostly supportive, or negative? Google and Bing will know, and will know your opinion too, and feed you more content, more advertisements, and more personal relevancy than ever before.

Of course, the problem with highly personalised profiling and then offering of data, is that you don’t get a broad range of opinion, just that which suits you. Its also a potential personal privacy issue. Where this goes, no one knows, but both Bing and Google have just taken search in an interesting new direction, and the thing driving that mine of knowledge is you, the twitterati, and the general swing of opinion that the world on the internet has to topics, and topics related to it.

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About plkrtn
Lostpedia SysOp, blogger, occasional writer for TVOvermind and consumer technology geek.

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