Facebook is already the primary place to receive party invites and see pictures of your friends’ new babies, but it may become even more directly engaged in your life — specifically, the TV-watching part. Peter Kafka is reporting that Facebook is batting its eyes at big media companies in an effort to push integration with their sites.
It’s a potentially good deal for both sides: by integrating directly, a company like Time Warner would be able to use the world’s largest social network to authenticate subscribers and drive audiences to more content, while Facebook would be able to gather the data resulting from those social interactions. And it also makes it clearer why Facebook agreed to partner with Clicker, to create an integrated recommendation engine.
The data angle is an important one for Facebook, as the social network attempts to build out its value as a recommendation engine across all spheres of life. As a Facebook spokesperson commented via email, regarding yesterday’s Clicker announcement:
We believe the web is better and more useful when social. People are free to share as little or as much information about themselves on Facebook as they want, and they can choose which friends or other audiences they want to share it with. As people share more information with friends, they can shape their experiences online, and in the case of Clicker, get stronger recommendations. Just as in the real world, your friends can help you find good music, restaurants and movies online through Facebook.
The Clicker recommendation engine, called Clicker Predict, uses a wide array of data points, including Likes, the interests of friends and social interactions, not to mention data accumulated from other sites thanks to Facebook Connect. And while the Predict element may not be quite precise enough yet (despite what this screenshot suggests, Ryan would like you to know that he is not a Glee-k), its predictive abilities should improve with the accumulation of more information.
Facebook could give media companies a clearer understanding of their audiences and create a better way for the two entities to interact. What remains to be seen is if major media companies really want to insert a third party in between them and their audience, especially given that Facebook is a relatively powerful player in its own right.
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