If Payvment's Shopping Mall is any indication, retailers are going to really like the new action verbs appearing on Facebook. Since implementing "want" and "own" buttons in November, the Facebook-only e-commerce player has seen customers rise from 500,000 to 1.1 million without making an ad buy on the social site, Payvment CEO Christian Taylor tells ClickZ News.
The holidays certainly helped achieve such growth, Taylor admitted. But he also said the "want" and "own" buttons have been spreading the word about his business, which resembles Amazon.com's model. When Facebook users tap the buttons, the action appears in their friends' news feed and/or news ticker.
"We have always had the 'like' button on every single product from all 150,000 of our sellers," the CEO explained. "Essentially the 'like' button never worked for shopping... We [began testing] the 'want' and 'own' buttons about a month and a half ago. Without a doubt, 'likes' dropped significantly. What we see now is people creating wish lists."
Taylor's company has been a Facebook Open Graph API partner since the latter's f8 conference in October, allowing Shopping Mall to feature "want" and "own" buttons before other retail brands. He said the social media giant has been attentive to suggestions about how to improve retail performance.
When asked if the buttons are increasing sales, Taylor replied, "Oh, without a doubt."
That should be welcome news to some Facebook commerce players that haven't raked in revenue during the last two months. Marketing services firm Baynote found that 91.4 percent of 1,000 surveyed consumers did not make a holidays purchase via a brand's Facebook page. Janice Diner, founder of social business consultancy Horizon Studios and a ClickZ columnist, suggested that Baynote's holidays statistic will see better days after the action verbs gain a foothold on Facebook.
"The next-generation social shopping experiences will get more personal, allowing consumers to share more," Diner said. "Consumers will be able to share their shopping thoughts through a wide array of shopping verbs/actions, such as share, like, own, heart, bought, want, wish, and sold - the list of shopping verbs is really endless."
'Actions' Could Transform Ads - But Not Overnight
On Jan. 18, the future of Facebook marketing took on a significantly more nuanced and potentially more powerful look. The Palo Alto, CA-based digital giant unveiled 60 frictionless sharing apps from Payvment/Shopping Mall and other brands such as Rotten Tomatoes, LivingSocial, and Foodspotting.
Facebook's announcement begged the question: How will the new actions - such as want, own, heart, watched, etc. - affect ad targeting? Facebook's Sponsored Stories, which were introduced a year ago, have mainly allowed advertisers to connect with consumers based on what their Facebook friends "liked." For retailers and other bricks-and-mortar organizations, the social context ads also have let brands target Facebook users based on where their friends had checked in via the Facebook Places mobile feature. In both cases, the like and check-in actions were presented in the Sponsored Stories ad unit.
Seeing what shoes, clothes, movie tickets, music downloads, etc. a friend "wants" or "owns" within a branded advertisement could positively impact the performance of paid Facebook promos.
When asked how the action verbs might manifest in future social context ads, a Facebook spokesperson replied via email: "While social apps open possibilities for these new kinds of connections and expressions, these stories cannot currently be sponsored."
According to Simon Mansell, CEO of social marketing services firm TBG Digital, it will take time for the action verbs get to achieve meaningful scale on Facebook.
"I would expect it to take a while for Facebook Actions to catch on and prove to be really powerful/scaled for advertisers," Mansell said via email. "If Facebook can get real adoption by Q4, I would consider that to be a good achievement."
When someone allows one of the new apps, it is added to his or her profile and timeline. Apps often ask Facebook users for access to their data at any time. The limits to how that data can be leveraged for advertising and merchandising is unclear. Payvment's system for Shopping Mall uses Facebook user profile data to populate relevant products on the viewer's screen.
"It's supposed to curate the mall according to your interests, your 'likes,' and the stuff that you've shared," said Taylor. "Essentially it uses your social data - what books you've read, what bands you've 'liked,' etc."
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Christopher Heine was a senior writer for ClickZ through June 2012. He covered social media, sports/entertainment marketing, retail, and more. Heine's work has also appeared via Mashable, Brandweek, DM News, MarketingSherpa, and other tech- and ad-centric publications. USA Today, Bloomberg Radio, and The Los Angeles Times have cited him as an expert journalist.
March 19, 2014