Facebook is rolling out its Offers marketing platform to local U.S. businesses. Before, Offers - which competes with Google's platform by the same name, Groupon, and LivingSocial - had been available to a limited number of test partners in the U.S. during the last four months. They included Macy's, Walgreens, Old Navy, and others.
A Facebook rep said any U.S. business on Facebook could now run an Offer free of charge on the self-service platform. Unlike Groupon, LivingSocial, and Google Offers, Facebook won't take a sales cut for redeemed vouchers.
The deals will be distributed to an advertiser's likes/fans in the news feed on the social site. When a Facebook user claims an Offer, his or her friends will see an ad in their news feed. The action will also post to a user's Timeline.
Businesses have to pay to create greater distribution via Facebook Marketplace Ads or Sponsored Stories, according to the Menlo Park, CA-based firm. It says the program is still in beta mode.
CEO Mark Zuckerberg's company started allowing marketers in Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore last month to test the deals-based product.
The Offers rollout for merchants, along with the company's recent purchase of local marketing platform TagTile, demonstrates that pre-IPO Facebook is extremely focused not only on global expansion but also the local front.
Following a two-week "roadshow" to pitch potential investors, Facebook now appears on track to go public May 18 – despite reports of a potential delay of its initial public offering (IPO). Facebook's IPO is one of the most eagerly-awaited since Google hit Wall Street in 2004.
According to a regulatory filing, Facebook's IPO would value the company at up to $95 billion (which would be the highest valuation ever for a technology firm) and could raise as much as $13.6 billion, half of which would go to existing shareholders. Facebook plans to set the price for its shares between $28 and $35 each.