Facebook needs big data to stay on top

There is a lot going on at Facebook HQ these days. We all witnessed a company struggling with it’s IPO and trying to come up with answers to their main challenge: increase revenue with more (mobile) and better (more social) advertisements.

About 82% of the social network’s revenue comes from advertising. But as has been argued over at Technology Review by Michael Wolff, web advertising is decreasing in value every quarter. So Facebook is looking into new sources of income such as adding a ‘want’ button to their network to monetize on users’ intention to buy things.

Recently we have seen what the data of social networks might be capable of. Twitter data is used to predict when we get sick, which hollywood movies will be a box office succes, what the state of the economy is according to consumers and so on. Facebook’s 900+ million users, with half of them checking in almost everyday, generate approximately 100 petabytes of data according to Sameet Agarwal, a director of engineering at Facebook.

Facebook (together with others) build Hive, a data warehouse system for Hadoop. Using Hive the Data Sciences Team is applying social science research techniques to create ad-hoc queries and complete varied analysis of large datasets stored in Hadoop, allowing them to mine the data. One potential use of this data is to sell insights on users (read consumer) intentions, insights on the state of the collective mood in a specific segment of the worlds population or maybe a more social insight that could provide a new understanding of human interactions in our digital society.

Anyway, it looks to me like Facebook is sitting on a pile of data (or money) that’s waiting to get used for big new things. Please share your thoughts on how Facebook can take on their big data.


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