Depending on the details, there could be some low-cost opportunities for online retailers big and small to market effectively through Facebook. Until tomorrow's big reveal, here is a recap of the Facebook rumors:
Project Pandemic / Mullets
Facebook may be removing "sponsored groups" and replacing them with sponsored pages that might include interactive games or other Facebook applications developed by Facebook itself, rather than third party developers.
Initially, Facebook made the brilliant move to open up its platform to leverage the power of the development community because Facebook understood it couldn't create all the cool apps that were possible by itself. If the rumors that Facebook is developing its own applications to compete with popular third-party applications, this could mean that other emerging platforms like the MySpace development platform and Google's OpenSocial could become even more attractive to third party developers. It might also mean Facebook risks these developers pulling their apps altogether.
Rumor via Venturebeat.
"What happens in Mexico -- stays in Mexico!" But that can't be said about Facebook if the rumors are true that it's working with third parties to collect data about what you do on sites like Amazon and eBay. Not only that, the activity could even be published in your News Feed and broadcast to friends, and potentially strangers depending on your privacy settings. Mind you, you will be asked for permission at point-of-sale to publish it.
This will be a bonus for brands and items that people like to show off. I'm thinking collectibles like Threadless tees, sports bobbleheads and perhaps music and concert tickets. I can't imagine someone wanting to broadcast that they bought some DVD recordables and a pencil sharpener, but who knows?
Merchants will receive nothing from Facebook but will get a link back from the News Feed as free advertising, while Facebook retains the user data which can be used to serve targeted "Social Ads." Since this can be a very low cost of advertising for online retailers, perhaps etailers will offer incentives on check-out like "receive 5% off your next order" for sharing the story (but then the advertising isn't so cheap anymore!).
Screenshots and rumor via TechCrunch.
MySpace is also said to be launching a social ad product very soon. Google also plans to do something similar with its OpenSocial platform. (For the record, Google has been partnered with MySpace for over a year now and has access to its profile data, which most likely will be applied to the Adwords system. Socially-targeted advertising is going to get very interesting).
Want to stay on top of future Facebook leaks and sneak peeks? Subscribe to the Allfacebook RSS feed.