Facebook Trumps Google's Traffic, but Will It Pay Off?

The once-profitless start-up reaches new heights

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Is Google capable of getting scared? If so, the colossus may have cause to tremble. According to the Web analytics firm Hitwise, Facebook surpassed Google.com to become the most visited U.S. site last week. Though Google's $23 billion in annual sales dwarf Facebook's estimated profits, the social networking site's growth is outstripping all the major players. It now has 400 million regular users and counting. The real question is: can Facebook capitalize on its traffic?

Yes: Eyeballs Will Yield Revenues, writes David Knowles at True/Slant: "If anyone still wonders why Google clumsily rolled out Google Buzz last month, you have your answer. The whole game now is about eyeball time. Who can draw the largest number for the longest amount of time... As Facebook and Twitter become better integrated, and do more of the same tasks as Google, then ad dollars will start streaming away from Google."

  • No: The Web Sites Are Fundamentally Different, writes Sam Gustin at Daily Finance: "Even though Facebook has passed Google in terms of online market share in the U.S., according to Hitwise, it faces many more challenges. Simply put, people go to Google because they are looking for something -- the inquisitive act of seeking naturally lends itself to advertising. Whereas people go to Facebook to socialize and share with friends and relatives in an environment in which advertising is viewed by many as an intrusion and a distraction. So while Facebook may have passed Google in terms of traffic, there is little chance it will overtake the search giant in terms of revenue or profit anytime soon."
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