Facebook on Thursday confirmed it has begun testing the use of a “Buy” button in news feed ads and page posts. For now, Facebook is testing the Buy button with only a few small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S
“With this feature, people on desktop or mobile can click the “Buy” call-to-action button on ads and Page posts to purchase a product directly from a business, without leaving Facebook,” stated a company blog post today.
To help ensure privacy and security, Facebook said none of the credit or debit card information people provide when completing a transaction will be shared with other advertisers, and users can choose whether they want to save payment information for future purchases. Given Facebook’s history of privacy-related stumbles, gaining consumer trust for handling transactions is no small matter.
A screenshot for a sample ad from Modify Watches showed the Buy button in the lower right corner below the ad copy and image, which offered a $10 discount on a $45 watch.
The announcement comes on the heels of a report Twitter has begun testing a “Buy now” button in tweets from a shopping app called Fancy. It would similarly allow users to make purchases in tweets without leaving the site. Facebook this year has already been adding new calls-to-action options in ads, including “Sign Up,” “Book Travel” and “Shop Now.”
But the new Buy button would provide a more direct option for completing a purchase, which could be especially appealing to online retailers. “By giving users the ability to make a purchase directly in the Facebook news feed, that should increase conversion rates and prove to drive a higher ROI for our advertisers,” said Hussein Fazal, founder of AdParlor, a Facebook strategic Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD).
Based on testing AdParlor conducted earlier this year of ad calls-to-action, including the “Shop Now,” button, Fazal added that users initially might scare off users unfamiliar with the feature. But he suggested that reticence would go away once people were more accustomed to seeing the Buy button.
“With this particular ad unit, these are the users that the advertiser is trying to attract — those who have a strong and genuine interest in making that purchase,” he said.
The move also shows Facebook wants to go beyond just building awareness or influencing sales, according to Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst, social media, at eMarketer.
“With this step, Facebook is becoming even more firmly established as a major player in direct-response advertising. This test is still only a test, but it’s a definite sign that Facebook wants to restart its efforts to become an e-commerce company,” she said.
The social network doesn’t have a strong track record in direct e-commerce to date. Last year, it shut down its service for selling physical gifts from partners like Magnolia Bakery, Brookstone’s and Dean & DeLuca. Its payments revenue has also fallen off since ending its relationship last year with social games developer Zynga.
Facebook did not indicate when the Buy button for ads or page posts would become more widely available. “We’ll share more information as we gather feedback,” the company stated.