Why Googlers Call Friend Connect "FriendSense"

It’s always fun to hear what Google employees call various projects when they think no one is listening. In 2007 they called the upstart Hulu joint venture Clown Co. as a private joke about the messy start to that unlikely company (I was right there mocking Hulu with them, but later gave them their due when they failed to fail).

Now we’ve confirmed that inside the Googleplex their new social product, Friend Connect, is often referred to as “Friendsense.” Why? Because like Adsense, Google plans to use Friend Connect as a shoehorn to insert advertising onto third party websites.

Friend Connect was first confirmed in May 2008. Earlier this month it opened to all comers.

The product (see the video below) lets websites add social features to their website. Add a few lines of code and you can let users sign in through a variety of social networks. Websites can also add various widgets and applications through Google’s Open Social project.

Soon websites that use Friend Connect will have a new option – add Adsense-like advertising within the Friend Connect and Open Social widgets that they’ve added to their websites. Publishers will get a percentage of the revenue generated from the advertising.

And that’s the big monetization scheme behind Open Social and Friend Connect for Google. And that’s why they call it Friendsense internally. And occasionally let it slip to outsiders.