Tuesday, April 8, 2008
Social Shopping: Making Online Advertising Work
A new site, Rasba, co-founded by 17-year-old Miriam Brafman, succeeds in doing what Facebook's Beacon initially tried - and failed - to achieve: the right balance between online shopping, advertising and social networking.
As I've highlighted previously, Beacon failed to have an opt-in system, so people were revealing their purchases to others without realising it. But, I believe, despite the fallout, Facebook had the right idea, executed wrongly.
Rasba not only avoids antagonising users through ensuring opt-in from the start, it makes buyers advocates of the advertising model, through leveraging social - and real - currency. They earn kudos and commission when the brands they've bought, displayed on their profile pages, are subsequently purchased by other members.
Just as 'gifting', 'begging' and feedback features on social networking sites facilitate social exchanges, other smart features of Rasba include wishlists and newsfeed-style updates on what their friends are buying. And brands get their own customisable storefronts within the website - it's win-win all round.
For teens, shopping is fundamentally a social event - whether it's spotting what the cool kids are wearing (nonchalantly, of course, and passing it off as your own style), consulting friends in the changing room, or via mms, or getting the verdict from the crowd on the way to a big night out. It makes absolute sense for e-commerce sites to leverage this. Teens' desire for acceptance, belonging and killer style is no less online.