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Facebook Abandons Deals Program

29
Aug
2011

facebook_deals_iconIt looks as if Facebook’s spring cleaning isn’t over just yet. Just a few days after the announcement of Facebook Places being disabled, the Facebook Deals feature has just gotten the ax as well, despite having only four months of testing time. The decision came as a big surprise to many, especially since Facebook Deals had every sign of being a big hit when it was first released. But as it turns out, Deals had been – in the words of Vinvius Vacanti, co-founder of Yipit.com – “an underwhelming product and experience”.

Facebook first implemented Deals in order to move into the growing online bargain market. It was a smart move to attract local businesses, especially since Facebook could use its huge user base – 600 million strong – as a bargaining chip. The company decided to begin testing the new feature in five cities in the United States first namely, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, San Diego, and San Francisco. There isn’t much information available to the public concerning how successful or unsuccessful their attempt to challenge Groupon and LivingSocial was, but it’s pretty safe to say that Facebook wouldn’t be shutting the Deals feature down if it was earning them some huge bucks.

This does not necessarily mean that daily deals are ineffectual. Vacanti said it best: “I don’t believe this means daily deals are not a viable business. It more suggests that large media and tech companies can’t just ‘turn on’ daily deals and expect them to work. It has to be more thoughtfully integrated into their existing product”. His statement could also be applied to what had happened with Facebook Places, which was also discontinued.

Still, this decision doesn’t mean that Facebook will be giving up on local businesses entirely. Facebook sent an email to Reuters last Friday explaining that they would be ending their Deals Product and that they “learned a lot from our test and we’ll continue to evaluate how to best serve local businesses’. Facebook ads, sponsored stories, and pages are still available for use – all of these features have proven to be highly successful when it comes to marketing. Moreover, they’re still offering their Check-in Deals feature, in which users can ‘check in’ at the local businesses in their area and see what offers they have in store.

The whole incident does leave one to wonder why exactly the feature failed. Has Facebook’s tendency to step across the boundary of people’s personal space caused the users to be wary of any new feature the social networking site implements? Perhaps. Google is currently trying out their Google Offers feature. If that comes off as a big success, then Facebook might have to do some major reflection.

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