Facebook has unveiled a new feature to improve businesses' ability to advertise products targeted at user interests.
The company said that the Collections feature would allow users to tag products and group items into "wishlist" collections, which can then then be browsed by friends or linked to product purchase pages.
Facebook is testing the feature, which includes the presence of a Collect or Want button with products, in a trial run with a small number of retailers, according to AllThingsD.
“We’ve seen that businesses often use Pages to share information about their products through photo albums," according to a Facebook spokesperson. "... We are beginning a small test in which a few select businesses will be able to share information about their products through a feature called Collections. Collections can be discovered in News Feed, and people will be able to engage with these collections and share things they are interested in with their friends. People can click through and buy these items off of Facebook.”
The feature could provide a new option for online retailers to interact with customers on the social networking site, allowing users to target potential purchases and organize items for future purchase or potential gifts. As TechCrunch noted:
The “Want” button adds a product to a Timeline section called “Wishlist” visible to friends of friends, the “Collect” button saves to to a Collection called “Products” that’s visible to friends only
The Collections feature could also provide Facebook with a much-needed source of additional revenue. The company has in recent months been looking at new features and potential service charges which could bring revenues beyond the company's traditional advertising structure.
The lack of potential revenue sources has been cited by industry pundits in fuel worries over the company's long-term financial outlook. The much-anticipated initial public offering (IPO) fell flat and executives were widely criticized for their handling of the event.
Since the IPO, Facebook's share price has dropped below $20 as the company has struggled to pick up revenue sources.