Facebook advertising could become significantly more powerful for retailers following the company’s acquisition of TheFind, a shopping search engine.
The acquisition could put Google and Amazon on notice that Facebook is stepping up its game to provide a new e-commerce hook baited with exactly what users are interested in consuming.
TheFind was founded in 2005 and was a remarkably successful search engine to connect people looking to buy products. Its algorithm crawled retail websites and delivered search results for people who were shopping for certain products, or products similar to the one they were looking for.
Facebook is all about connecting people with people, so by something akin to the transitive property, Facebook now hopes to hook people up with products while they’re browsing their feed, potentially strengthening their platform for buyer intent vs. awareness.
TheFind’s site itself was shut down after Facebook bought it, and Facebook plans to incorporate the company’s technology into its own advertising services. Before being bought out, TheFind amassed and indexed 500 million products from half a million stores by offering retailers free inclusion.
No one is yet sure why Facebook shut down TheFind as a first step. It might have been a cost-saving measure, but really it’s likely that Facebook wants the back-end technology TheFind used for inventory or feeds for its own platform. No doubt the organized and detailed feed handling technology built into TheFind is appreciably better than anything Facebook may have tried to build to date.
The Many Potential Reasons Why Facebook Acquired TheFind
If Facebook embeds TheFind’s technology into its advertising process, the result is expected to be retail ads that are targeted with greater relevance. It should eliminate redundant ads, so if a customer purchases something from an e-commerce site, he won’t see more Facebook ads for that product after the purchase.
Users will see relevant messages about products they previously browsed for online (but didn’t buy). The system doesn’t rely on retailer feed submissions to display relevant ads that include things like local results, coupons, and special deals. Plus, the algorithm can handle unstructured data from businesses of all sizes. Local results could be particularly appealing, because users can click on a local results tab and receive a map and other local information about nearby retailers with the products they want.
Could The Acquisition Help Businesses Put Offline Customer Data to Work?
Another potentially huge benefit for Facebook advertising is that TheFind is able to tie online and offline shopping experiences together. The online-to-offline insights that businesses could gain from this merging of data could be tremendously useful for marketing strategy planning. Facebook advertising currently does something similar by matching login emails to emails used at checkout, but the acquisition of TheFind’s technology could make it much more powerful. Being able to monetize Facebook’s check-in and passive location data could make Facebook advertising a more effective option for brick-and-mortar retailers.
How Will Businesses Benefit from Facebook’s Acquisition of TheFind?
Facebook’s user base is increasingly mobile, and acquisition of TheFind will allow Facebook to add extra targeting information on top of its own location-based information. This could be a huge selling point for Facebook advertising. Since TheFind provides Facebook with its relationships to retailers and their inventories, Facebook will know when a local retailer has a particular item in stock. The result is fewer ad dollars wasted, which is a strong selling point for smaller retailers.
So Facebook bought TheFind, shuttered it, and absorbed its technology and talent. It was a move that showed Facebook is seriously stepping up its game when it comes to connecting people with products. Facebook advertising could take a big leap forward with this one acquisition, and gives retailers one more big reason to explore the possibilities of Facebook advertising.