Facebook (Nasdaq: FB), the No. 1 social network, might be returning to an old idea for establishing another firm revenue stream as the company continues to search for alternatives to advertising revenue alone.
According to the Daily, two Facebook insiders have revealed details of a classified project referred to as Marketplace that would allow Facebook users to post specifically commercial content or classified ads in an area separate from their individual wall.
Borrowing some cues from the giant (albeit highly unregulated) online classified website Craigslist, Facebook users would be able to post everything from random tchotchkes and pieces of furniture they wanted to sell to roommate requests.
Details of how the service could be monetized have not been firmly established, but one detail that the Daily noted was that Marketplace would allow users to pay an indeterminate fee to promote the sales to the top of their friends’ newsfeeds.
This feature is similar to Facebook’s controversial new “promoted post” feature, which allows users to pay to send any of their status updates to the top of their connections’ newsfeeds in a manner much like Twitter’s sponsored content. Last month, investment managers at Sterne Agee questioned the short-term possibilities for growth of a feature like promoted posts since the potential uses for the average Facebook user didn’t measure up to the obvious ways that brands would want to advertise their content on the site.
“While we see a significant opportunity for Facebook Pages to promote posts, we view the move into promoted posts for personal profiles as small,” the report said. “While the margins will be high, we think it’s unlikely for the promoted personal posts to move the needle in the near term.”
A more involved feature is the new jobs board, which would function as a sort of hybrid between Craigslist and professional social networking site LinkedIn (Nasdaq: LNKD). Users could post anything from full-time contracts to short-term projects, restricting their availability based on anything from geographic location to age or experience level requirements. Users would also be able to suggest friends either for their own posts or to help identify clients for their friends.
The name Marketplace itself comes from a similar attempt to add a classified section to Facebook, of Menlo Park, Calif., in 2007. The service was ultimately handed off to a third-party developer in 2009. With the promising debut of Facebook’s new “collections” feature, the site seems more keen than ever to boost its credentials as an e-commerce platform rather than just a free-form social network.
Facebook shares fell 7 cents to $21.05 in Thursday midday trading.