Facebook reveals e-commerce play

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 17 July 2015

Facebook has finally revealed its e-commerce play, with the social giant currently testing 'shops' for certain brands within its ecosystem.

BuzzFeed revealed the move, with Facebook's product marketing manager Emma Rodgers telling BuzzFeed News: “With the shop section on the page, we’re now providing businesses with the ability to showcase their products directly on the page.”

The move will allow businesses to now close the loop between promoting products and services on the social network to being able to sell directly to customers in the Facebook ecosystem.

It is not yet clear how the profits will be split between the sellers and Facebook, with Buzzfeed reporting that Facebook currently doesn't take a cut of sales made on the network.

George Pappas, campaign director for G Squared, told AdNews that the move seems to follow Facebook’s general principle of keeping users within their framework.

“Just like consuming content through its recently announced publishers portal, users will soon be transacting money and buying products through Facebook,” he said.

Pappas explained that Facebook entering the space is a play to take on one of its main competitors Google, which has also has started testing it own buy feature.

He also added that when it launches in Australia, it's definitely worth a try. “I feel it’ll end up complementing branded and existing e-commerce channels rather than becoming core or exclusive shopfronts for brands.”

Google has also in the last 24 hours unveiled its e-commerce offering, with the search giant announcing its Purchases on Google feature, which will make it possible for consumers to buy the products that they see in mobile search ads.

Google announced the move at a media event where it said that it is currently testing the service with a dozen retailers with plans to then make the service more widely available in early 2016.

Both players have been eyeing off the space for a while, with VP of product management for mobile ads at Google, Jonathan Alferness, telling AdNews in May: “I don't think we have any further comments to make about the buy button just yet, unfortunately I can't give you to much more at this moment, stay tuned.”

Thomas Delafosse, digital solutions director for Reprise told AdNews that Google’s strategy for advertisers has been very clear for the past few years.

“Make it easier for brands to connect with their audience,” he said. “Several updates have already been launched in selected markets, enabling users to book hotel rooms or compare financial services straight from the search engine result page."

Delafosse added that Purchases on Google has the potential to make Google not only the website users go to look for items, but also the retailer they buy their products from.

“Google understands each user like no other company does, through the data it collects through its broad offering search, Android, wearables, Gmail, Youtube. With this new update, Google could quickly also become the one-stop shop for consumers worldwide and maximise the monetisation of its audience. It would also reinforce its dominant market position in online advertising.”

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