Data and access.
It's just that simple.
After the recent announcement of Google's OpenSocial program and the many online social network platform that are embracing it, much of the media attention is focusing on if this is a "Facebook Killer," or whether or not this is just some kind of gang-up on Facebook. While the media needs the sensationalism to drive readership, I'm looking strictly at what this means to Marketers.
One is data.
Imagine how deep-dive you will now be able to go when a unified profile is available for individual users. As these users take part in more and more social environments, the rich and deep layers of data will be unimaginable. If you take a quick look at what Facebook is able to grab in their own environment, just imagine when OpenSocial gets going. Couple that with Google's current deployment of Google Analytics and it's hard to imagine that Marketers won't get smarter. The challenge (as always) will be how (and if) we use it effectively.
Two is access.
One of the bigger complaints I get from clients is the disparate online social networks and their inability to deliver high quality traffic. While I don't think that OpenSocial is going to change it all that much, I'm hopeful that the simplicity of enabling consumers to have one profile across multiple platform will empower them to put more time into their profile development and nurture it. If this does happen, my guess is that the actual pages and networks will improve as well. So, if all goes right, we'll have the ability to target Marketing through one social network (OpenSocial) and consumers will also have more rich data that they are offering up.
My one fear is that this is just a move to bully Facebook and little else. If Google, MySpace, LinkedIn, and the other massive online social networks are serious about what can be done with OpenSocial, I'm willing to bet that they will finally pull out of this exercise a real (and new) marketing opportunity that we have yet to see.
Online social networks are grappling with how to create real and meaningful marketing programs. They know that this is where the money is for them to grow. OpenSocial may be the first place where we'll see the online social networking equivalent to what the Search Engine industry got out of pay-per-click.