Mike Isaac

Recent Posts by Mike Isaac

Facebook Pushes “Gifts” Hard in Time for the Holidays

I am horrible with holiday gift shopping. Always wait until the last minute, always fighting the crowds at retailers to score a crappy gift from the already-picked-clean shelves. I hate every second of it.

Facebook knows procrastinators like me exist. To take advantage of it, the company is slowly rolling out a banner-ad-like push for its Gifts product, stuck front and center at the top of every Facebook member’s news feed (Update: that is, every U.S. member’s news feed) — mobile news feeds, too. Click a button, and you’re taken to the gift-buying menu screens straightaway.

giftfeed

Gifts, as you may recall, is Facebook’s e-shopping initiative introduced in September, a way to send physical and digital goods to any of your Facebook friends without having to exit the site. Products range from food and wine to digital music and cutesy teddy bears. And the “send a gift!” button is plastered all over the upper-right-hand corner of users’ news feed pages, giving it a lot of real estate (and, subsequently, eyeball time in front of every U.S. Facebook user).

More importantly, it’s another revenue stream for the company. And according to a number of recent analyst investment notes I’ve received recently, the Street is bullish on the company’s prospects because of it and other initiatives like Gifts. I’m suspect, however, considering that some of the margins in sending physical gifts are so small, it’s difficult to imagine Facebook making huge amounts of money off the product.

And even though it’s hitting last-minute shoppers like me, there are drawbacks. For one, any physical gifts I order starting today and beyond won’t make it in time for Christmas. I think that deadline for many e-retailers was Friday midday. And second, most of the gifts are still small potatoes — cupcakes, dolls and little stuff like that. So if you’re shopping for your spouse or loved ones, buying them a cookie bouquet from Facebook may land you in the doghouse.

Still, Facebook wants to get in on the mad rush to buy stuff before the end of the year. Everyone is opening their wallets right now, and there’s no better way to remind the world you have an e-commerce product than sticking it at the top of the news feed, in front of the eyes of hundreds of millions of people.

It’s rolling out slowly over the weekend. If you don’t see the banner right now, expect to see it soon.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald