What’s On

What FB’s Buy Now means to ecommerce & marketers

Facebook plans to introduce a Buy Now button to its brand pages and news feeds. The news follows Twitter’s acquisition of CardSpring, an ecommerce platform that allows brands to integrate ‘Buy Now’ buttons into third party publisher’s content.

This announcement has all the usual trappings of a big Facebook development, but as ever, it’s wise to wait for the first case studies and results to be published before jumping in. Interestingly, at a macro level, this development points towards Facebook looking to become the centre of its user’s lives. With Amazon holding the largest volume of purchase data, Google holding the largest volume of intent data, and Facebook holding the largest volume of personal data. If this development is successful, that could viably see Facebook beginning to compete with Amazon, and then there’s only search left.

What this means for brands?
As ever with Facebook announcements, this development is going to be introduced initially in the US and with a small group of handpicked SMEs (small and medium enterprises). However, if the trial is successful, we’d expect the ‘Buy Now’ button to be launched into further markets later this year, with a full global roll out soon after that.

A few key considerations for brands looking to introduce this functionality to their pages (once they are available) should be:
• The impact that this has on user behaviour and overall sentiment towards Facebook holding credit card data (remember the reaction from users when Facebook Credits was introduced – and then scrapped only 18 months later).
• The costs associated with driving people to the content (as the button will be embedded within a post, the cost will come from promoting that post). Will ‘Buy Now’ posts be more expensive to promote? If so, how does the CPA compare to other digital channels, such as search? Facebook is currently denying that it will potentially take a percentage of any completed sales, which would suggest a new advertising product for ‘Buy Now’ content.
• How successful the button has been with the trial SMEs – and if there are any trends that emerge around the value of the products sold (low cost versus high cost), and whether there has been greater uptake in product or service purchases.

What about Twitter and Amazon?
While Twitter’s acquisition is an obvious development on its sales-focussed work with brands such as Starbucks and American Express, Facebook’s announcement is focussed on small to medium size businesses, rather than global brands.

Facebook (and other digital platforms) are increasingly moving towards the middle with their proposition – how can they become more integral to user’s lives, collect more (and richer) data and begin to take on the bigger ecommerce platforms such as Amazon.

If the trial is successful, and Facebook sees promising returns that are comparable to other ecommerce websites, it could be the start of a new wave of consumer behaviour. It would also mark a large shift in the type of data available to advertisers. Facebook has said that it will not share credit card information with other advertisers, but the wording is very specific, and most advertisers would be more interested in the purchases and purchasing behaviour on users, rather than the credit or debit card data itself.

Jed Hallam

The author, Jed Hallam, is the head of social media strategy at Mindshare Worldwide.