Facebook is still trying to figure out how to get you to buy stuff from your News Feed, but one experiment that didn't quite pan out was Facebook Gifts. The social network is shutting down the service on August 12, Recode reported, after underwhelming users with digital gift cards.
Facebook experimented with Gifts for a few years before giving up on it. The network introduced the feature in September 2012 as a way for users to send each other physical presents like cupcakes, gift cards, and even bottles of wine. But last summer, Facebook dropped the real stuff from its store and switched to digital gift cards. About 80 percent of all purchases were gift cards, the company said at the time, so the move made sense.
But Gifts never really caught on, and Facebook is now exploring new ways to allow you to shop without leaving your Timeline. The network is testing a "buy" button on ads that would let you make a purchase straight from your News Feed, no referral link required. The "buy" button experiment isn't yet wide-spread--Facebook is partnering with a handful of small business like Modify Watches to test the ads, which appear as suggested posts in your News Feed.
The network is clearly betting on e-commerce as its next big moneymaker, but most users don't think of Facebook as a marketplace--yet. Maybe Gifts didn't catch on because people were turned off by Facebook's nagging: "It's the birthday of someone you haven't spoken to in years! Send them a $5 Starbucks gift card!" No thanks. But buying a pair of jeans from an ad in your News Feed--especially if Facebook enables one-click purchases like Amazon--could be more appealing.
If you've received a Facebook Gift card, you'll be able to redeem it beyond Aug. 12. Just be aware of the merchant's rules and expiration dates.