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Google released some interesting statistics today about Friend Connect, which is part of the search giant’s push to build a social layer across the web where visitors can get tailored experiences depending on their interests and friend network. So how has Friend Connect done since its launch last year?
- It’s on nine million sites
- Friend Connect sites attract about half a billion unique viewers over a 30-day period
- And over two people join a site every second.
Pretty mind-boggling, if you consider that Facebook’s been talking about its 15,000 Connect partners. While Facebook collects a lot of mindshare for Connect, that’s still 9 million to 15,000.
So what gives? Well, Google automatically turned on Friend Connect for all its Blogger sites, so it definitely helps if you have a whole network of web properties for distribution purposes. Without the Blogger sites, Google Friend Connect integrations come down to about 110,000 sites — that’s still about a 7-to-1 ratio on Facebook Connect.
Google Friend Connect is a bit easier to install; you enter in your site URL to Google and copy and paste some lines of HTML into your source code. By contrast, Facebook Connect integrations can range from less than an hour for a share button to up to six weeks for Facebook-enabled user registration onto your site. Facebook’s been trying to ease that process by compressing it down to three steps with a wizard. Plus, it just announced it’s planning an Open Graph API that can effectively give any Web site Fan page properties — meaning it can publish content into Facebook’s stream and acquire fans on the social network.
While Blogger helps Friend Connect show up on more web sites, a big portion of the eyeballs actually comes from non-Blogger sites. Those 110,000 sites bring about one-third of a Friend Connect’s traffic, so Blogger represents the long tail of attention, according to product manager Mussie Shore.
Another thing to consider is that while Friend Connect and Facebook Connect can easily be considered rivals, they’re actually installed side-by-side on a number of properties. That includes The Huffington Post, which is the poster child for a deep Facebook Connect integration. The news service launched a social news project over the summer that lets you follow Huffington Post content that your friends have commented on or shared.
“All of these products tend to have their distinct competencies,” Shore said. “We’re all trying to get a web that’s social. Google Friend Connect uses a lot of open standards and are willing to integrate existing graphs and profiles from a variety of services.”
Facebook obviously taps into its own social network, while Friend Connect lets you sign in with your Google, AOL or Yahoo accounts. While Facebook Connect could bring you experiences with the people you actually know, Google Friend Connect stresses connections with completely new people who might share the same interests.
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