Inside Facebook

A lot of griping about this documentary, generally about the lack of Mark Zuckerberg who only offered the occasional observation but there were many other notable points.

A Facebook PR man was asked if was reasonable that when Facebook user “Likes” a product, this is parlayed by the brand into a full-blown product endorsement but if any persons ‘Friends’ tend to take such a recommendation to heart and go and actually buy the product. This question underlies Facebook’s revenue-making potential so needs asking. Proving that online marketing activity results in offline sales remains the Holy Grail of close-loop marketing and as long as the majority of retail transactions are done face-to-face and the need to prove the ROI of marketing spend intensifies, the need to close this loop will only intensify. A digital voucher issued online and then redeemed instore does just this.

Also illuminating was the tale of the programmer who had bought himself a digital-dog on Facebook using Facebook Credits, an online currency bought for real money that is then spent on ‘content’ within Facebook. To complete the ownership experience, had had used more Credits to buy a digital version of what real dogs leave behind. There are a couple of cheap observations to be made here on the real and virtual worlds but the serious point is about the ephemeral nature of money itself; who issues it, who controls it and that confidence in any currency is paramount. This is highly topical in light of the 2009 Payment Services Directive and the recently enacted Electronic Money Regulations. These two acts are giant trawling nets for all manner of services that look and smell like money or payments and are a pedantic, British implementation of waffly, European Directives based on intent, sentiment and context. The net-net is that some services that common-sense suggest are a form of payment or money appear to fall outside the precise definition of these Acts while innocuous transactions that place consumers at no risk are caught within them. Or maybe not. Much of this is as yet untested in the courts so nobody really knows and until some judgements are made, uncertainty will stifle innovation. Now that i-movo has performed over 5M secure digital vouchers transactions worth more than £12M (which is more than everybody else in our market combined), we are keeping a close eye on this and will gladly share what we know if you are interested and would like to get in touch.

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