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Facebook Deals will focus on group experiences. It won’t feature online retailers—for now.
Facebook Inc. says that the expansion of its Deals program into daily deals will differentiate its offering from the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial by focusing on deals that offer social experiences, such as a discount for a city tour or a tasting menu at a restaurant.
The program, which will launch in the coming weeks, will enable consumers to purchase vouchers to participate in activities that they can participate in with friends, which means Internet retailers will not be involved during the initial test, says a Facebook spokeswoman. However, the social network says based on the test's results it may explore other types of services, including online retailers.
Shoppers will be able to buy daily-deal vouchers on Facebook, as well as from nine other sites that do work with e-retailers. Those sites are Gilt Groupe’s Gilt City, Home Run, OpenTable, Pop Sugar City, KGB Deals, Plum District, Tippr, Reach Local and Zozi. and share the offers with their friends on the social network.
Facebook initially will offer the service in Austin, TX, Atlanta, Dallas, San Diego and San Francisco.
The spokeswoman says Facebook is still exploring whether consumers will be able to use Facebook Credits, its virtual currency, to purchase vouchers. However, if it is an option it will likely be one of multiple ways consumers can buy vouchers as Facebook aims to make the payment process as easy and simple as possible, she says.
Facebook Deals currently enables businesses to offer incentives such as discounts and freebies to consumers who check in through the Facebook Places service that the social network launched in August.
By offering its own deals, as well as aggregating other sites’ offers, the world’s largest social network is looking to grab a share of the rapidly growing online daily-deal industry, which could generate up to $2.67 billion in 2011, according to a recent report by Local Offer Network Inc., which sells advertising and technology services to group-buying sites.