Facebook, Google in a social-networking PR scramble?

Facebook has scheduled a high-profile advertising announcement for Nov. 6. Google has reportedly changed its social-networking announcement from Nov. 5 to later in the week. Coincidence?

When Facebook confirmed widespread blog rumors that it would be making a major advertising announcement on November 6, a few people pointed out that this date may have been a strategic one. The previous day, November 5, had been widely rumored as the day when Google would leverage its Orkut social network along with a host of other software properties (Google Reader, perhaps, or new acquisition Jaiku) into a powerful social networking tool to rival Facebook's.

But now Google has allegedly delayed its own announcement by several days, according to reports. A TechCrunch source claims that the project "needs more time," which seems a bit incongruous for a delay of less than a week. Two weeks, sure. But three or four days?

Here's a thought: perhaps Google was concerned that its "open platform" announcement would be superseded the next day by a glitzy Facebook event that was aiming squarely at Google's own AdSense. Google saw Facebook (and Microsoft) steal its thunder last week when Redmond's $240 million minority stake in the social network was announced in the final hours of Google Analyst Day--and an ultimately disappointing Analyst Day at that, as the widely rumored "GPhone" failed to materialize. ( Lofty cosmo-talk from Vint Cerf failed to pull the Facebook-Microsoft deal further down in the headlines.)

If Google and Facebook were going to be making similar announcements, it'd be a scramble between the two companies to be the first one out of the gate. But that's not the case--Google has a phenomenally successful online advertising business and is brewing up a social media strategy, whereas Facebook is the hottest social media brand around but is building its online advertising base. In this situation, it's not about who can make the announcement first, but whose announcement has the real buzz power.

When Facebook launched its developer platform in May, it was the hottest topic in tech enthusiast circles for weeks afterward; the hype still hasn't died down. The rumored "SocialAds" event will be the biggest announcement out of the company since then, and its placement in the middle of New York's AdTech conference guarantees that it'll be high-profile.

There are few companies that could divert attention from Google. Facebook, unfortunately for Mountain View, is one of them.

 

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