Amazon Weds Facebook and you get that feeling of “Finally!!!” when you see a two obviously compatible people hanging out at the same pub but not hooking up for some unknown reason for ages. Ever since websites started showing us what our Facebook friends liked (sometimes in irritatingly irrelevant contexts), I was just waiting for Amazon to do the same. After all, wasn’t it most obvious that the company which tapped into community intelligence before the whole social media hoopla kicked in (“Users who liked this also liked that…”) should be the one cashing in on a user’s actual network to mine similarities and give gift suggestions?
Yes, Amazon has been on Facebook in the form of various apps but that’s not really the same thing. Amazon on Facebook is purely another distribution channel with a half-baked attempt at using your facebook network but applying intelligence on your network and bringing it back into product recommendations on Amazon is the real thing that should have happened long back.
The integration does solve for some basic social shopping scenarios at the moment. Gift recommendations and gifting alerts are probably the most basic way in which Amazon can use the Facebook network data. But the real value of this alliance can come through only if Amazon successfully understands relationships on Facebook based on common activity, location, likes and dislikes. If most of the people in my network listen to Coldplay, the chances are fairly good that I like the band too. However, if Amazon can really get to a point where it can segregate common interest friends from work/school connections and both the above from random friend requests one may have accepted, the product recommendations can get very relevant. The amount of positive recent activity with another friend should also be a good indicator of how much I would value that person’s interests as well as how likely I would be to buy something for them.
What is good is that unlike a lot of other Facebook integrations, Amazon is not publishing data back to Facebook. Given the recent spate of controversies around Facebook’s privacy stance, this will definitely help spur the uptake of this opt-in feature.
Great partnership that was waiting to happen! I hope this really works out well for the good of all of us who love shopping online.
This post was first published at Venturati.
Sangeet Paul Choudary is a leader in the New Ventures group at Intuit Asia-Pac.