Facebook is on a quest to completely dominate the Internet. With around two billion active users, the social media juggernaut has a strong place when it comes to communications, through Messenger and WhatsApp, as well pretty much everything else in our lives as we share images, through status updates and Instagram, as well other posts we make.
Marketplace is another service they deliver, giving us a place to buy, swap and sell items. And, as Marketplace grows in popularity, Facebook is planning to open the service to retailers.
According to Michelle Bonner Techel, a product marketing manager at Facebook, in comments made to Recode the company is about start displaying ads from retailers in the Marketplace. It will start as a US-only experiment, embedding the same sorts of ads that are currently being used in news feeds.
At this stage, it won’t be a fully vertically integrated solution. If you click on an ad, you’ll be directed to a landing page outside Facebook in order to complete the transaction.
Those with a few grey hairs will remember the mid-1990s and how Microsoft planned to create a curated (and controlled) corner of the Internet called the Microsoft Network (MSN). At the time, pretty much everyone railed against them and pointed to how the Internet was borderless and beyond the control of any one organisation.
That sentiment may remain true today. But Facebook is becoming an increasingly dominant force.
I think Mark Zuckerberg is playing a very patient, smart and long game. There’s no way the world would accept Facebook, or anyone else, swooping in with a plan for global domination (insert maniacal laugh here). But I think Facebook is taking the Field of Dreams approach – “If you build it they will come” (I know I’ve changed the quote slightly).
Over the years, he took his reasonably simple idea and slowly expanded it, adding new features in response to user demands and making strategic acquisitions along the way.
The next, significant piece of the puzzle will be a payment service or gateway – similar to what Ebay did when they acquired Paypal. When that happens, you can expect Facebook to start making big moves in retail, as well as banking.
Microsoft faced opposition to MSN because their plan was too bold and audacious. Facebook is taking a longer route to a similar destination.