RBC Capital Markets points out that 19% of Google's unique visitors are referred by Facebook, up from just 9% a year ago. Given current rates of growth, they also suggest that Facebook will overtake Google in terms of number of unique visitors by 2011-2012.
These two fairly amazing data points permit a couple of interesting conclusions:
A much higher proportion of referrals from Facebook go to Google rather than to Yahoo or Microsoft (who actually have a paid agreement with Facebook) which means that Facebook's growth is pushing Google's share of search higher than it would be otherwise.
If Facebook are seeking monetization, then a referral deal with Google seems like a good place to begin.
Facebook is actually positive and complementary for Google thus far, but that could change if Facebook's rapid growth trajectory continues on its current path, or if/when social media can find a business model and attract ad dollars from other online media.
At the very least, we think Facebook as the "starting point" for more and more users on the Internet could create some multiple compression for Google over time, if the momentum continues.
Using my secret-agent financial analyst decoder ring, I can tell you that "multiple compression for Google" in this context should be taken to read, "Google is paying MySpace $1 billion per year for perhaps 3% of Google's traffic. On that basis Facebook should be hitting Google up for $6 billion a year, no?"