Social commerce spotlight: Who wins in the Facebook/eBay partnership?
By adding the Open Graph protocol to eBay’s ecommerce platforms X.commerce, Magento and GSI, merchants can add Facebook sharing options to their sites, including ‘want’ and ‘own’ buttons, which add a deeper dimension than the simple ‘like’ button.
Of course, clicking ‘want’ or ‘own’ on a product will feed back to the users social circle, which perpetuates the social experience, stimulating dialogue and content sharing (and probably some jealousy, too). But was it the ‘social experience’ driving this development?
Of course, the answer is no. eBay has remained non-plussed about social networking, even trying to prevent its users’ integration with Facebook earlier this year. Sure, it stands to benefit as far as keeping its customers happy is concerned – previously merchants and retailers would have to go to (and pay) third-party developers for the addition of Facebook features. But the real winner in this partnership is, of course, Facebook.
While advertisers can currently target users based on their ‘likes’, Facebook will soon allow them to target an audience based on Open Graph activity. So a women’s clothes store could tailor adverts to girls who have clicked ‘want’ under a particular dress, or a sports store could target anyone that has selected ‘own’ on an item on a football site.
This information is exponentially more valuable to advertisers than data based solely on the ‘like’ button. After all, we can all ‘like’ Fender, but how many of us actually own (or could even play) a Fender guitar? How many of us could afford one? By ‘liking’ Fender, are we subscribing to a brand’s culture, demonstrating ownership or simply indicating aspirations? Advertisers don’t really know. But they will with Open Graph info gleaned from users’ interactions with eBay stores (and others), and they’ll be willing to pay top dollar for it.
This Facebook and eBay partnership is certainly a turning point for f-commerce, but not necessarily for the reasons first thought. Yes, it’s adding a new dimension to the users’ sharing experience, and yes, it’s giving f-commerce a little push in the right direction, but predominantly, it’s laying foundations for Facebook’s bottom line forecast.