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Facebook Ups its Commerce Potential with ‘Buy’ Button

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In a move aimed at delivering the most direct and effective ROI for advertisers, Facebook has announced the much-anticipated “Buy” button, which will replace Facebook Gifts. The new ad type empowers marketers to add a “Buy” call-to-action, thereby enticing users to purchase products directly within the Facebook user interface.

Over the years, Facebook has increased and expanded its ad offerings with the objective of driving people to e-commerce or campaign-focused destinations; however, this is the first update that allows brands to sell products directly within the platform. Taking out the additional step to click off to an external site in order to complete a purchase provides a more seamless sale experience for users. To make things even easier, Facebook will allow people to store their credit card and shipping information for future purchases – which, of course, promises to make the checkout process even faster.

To start, Facebook is testing out the feature with small to mid-sized businesses in the U.S. and has said that it will not be collecting any revenue from the initial test. That said, we anticipate that this feature could soon be rolled out to larger brands.

How Brands Can Prepare for “Buy” in the Future

While the initial test is limited to a handful of smaller businesses, advertisers can prepare for a wider roll-out by incorporating CRM data (via email lists and past completed sales) within Facebook Website Custom Audiences. Launched in 2012, Custom Audiences is a tool that collects user information and allows Facebook to remarket with timely, relevant ads.

To set up for success, marketers should consider building out their priority keyword/demo-targeting audiences within Custom Audiences and then determine which products make sense to sell via Facebook. Some examples could be newly-released products, or items that are on sale. Amazon and other ecommerce companies have been remarketing on Facebook for some time – often with the sale as their key message – but the Facebook “Buy” button promises to remove the step that takes shoppers outside of the Facebook environment.

Given Facebook’s current capabilities, we can assume that if a user clicks to purchase a product – but abandons his or her cart – brands will be able to remarket to them to continue pushing the sale in the future. Once the purchase happens, brands might also be able to remarket in the hopes of driving future sales, truly keeping the brand top-of-mind for future purchase decisions.

What Facebook’s “Buy” Button Means For Brands

From a measurement standpoint, this new product offering is gold. ROI could be measured almost perfectly, as advertisers will be able to assess revenue earned directly via Facebook for the first time ever. Even with Facebook’s conversion pixeling capabilities, there have been some discrepancies between analytics tools like Google Analytics and Facebook. The accuracy of reporting will be a welcome improvement for marketers.

Moreover, this update could introduce a “village market” model within Facebook (as one journalist puts it), allowing the platforms’ more than 1 billion users to browse, share and buy products within a single destination. In one potential scenario, Facebook could emerge as the choice platform for offering products exclusively within that channel, granting fans with “first dibs” on newly released items. For companies selling products online, the ability to buy products directly within the world’s biggest social network is big news indeed.