February 14th, 2013 by Judith Aquino

FB-photoNearly a year ago, Facebook introduced its Preferred Marketing Developer program, which set a standard for approved developers of apps, ads, insight tools and services for the social network. Yesterday, Business Insider was the first to report that Facebook has temporarily stopped admitting new members into its PMD badge system while it revamps its criteria to place a greater focus on “advertisers and agencies who buy paid ad media on Facebook.”

Considering that the program was available to companies that only used Facebook’s free pages or provided analytic services that did not include paid ad buys, this move suggests that the golden age of advertising for free on the behemoth social network is quickly coming to a close.

In other news, Valentine’s Day is here. What better way to celebrate a commercial holiday than to give your friend or loved one an impersonal gift like a Starbucks gift card or a song from iTunes? That seems to be what Facebook is telling everyone who found a banner ad at the top of their newsfeed encouraging you to surprise your valentine with a gift from the social network.

The suggested gifts include chocolate-covered oreos and strawberries, chicken soup (?) and mugs. To be fair, Facebook is not the only business peddling generic presents—the only difference is that instead of popping into a store or a separate Web site, you can cross this task off your list with even fewer swipes or clicks.

According to the National Retail Federation, 26.3 percent of shoppers are planning to purchase Valentine’s Day gifts online, up from last year’s 19.3 percent. It is unclear how many people are heading to Facebook for their Valentine’s Day gifts.

Facebook’s CFO, David Ebersman, acknowledged in a recent earnings call that the company is still experimenting with its Gifts feature. If today’s gift options are any indication, the social network has a long way to go in turning Gifts into a compelling e-commerce hub.


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