- Facebook earlier this year acquired Packagd, a startup focused on video shopping, Bloomberg reported, citing a source familiar with the matter.
- Packagd is now helping Facebook build shopping capabilities to let users in the platform's Marketplace section make purchases directly from live video broadcasts. A Facebook spokesperson confirmed to Bloomberg that the company is "exploring ways to let buyers easily ask questions and place orders within a live video broadcast."
- The social network didn't announce the deal for Packagd, a five-person company that previously worked on a shopping solution for Facebook's rival YouTube, according to Bloomberg. Speaking on the YouTube project, Packagd founder Eric Feng previously told Bloomberg Television that the company aimed to reimagine the type of content seen on QVC and other home shopping networks.
While Packagd is a relatively small company, the acquisition indicates where Facebook is focusing its attention heading into 2020. Shoppable features and e-commerce continue to climb to the top of the agenda for the social media behemoth as it looks to diversify its business beyond digital advertising, which still makes up the vast majority of its revenue, and better compete with disruptive competitors like Amazon and even viral video app TikTok.
Facebook made waves earlier this year when it introduced in-app checkout for shopping on Instagram, an effort to capitalize on the image-sharing app's popularity as a destination for browsing fashion and beauty products and glossy influencer content. Rivals ranging from Pinterest to Google have in recent months also rolled out a number of ways for users to buy products they see without having to leave their respective apps or websites.
Marketplace is an interesting bet from Facebook, operating in essentially the same fashion as Craigslist in listing goods and services for users to buy and sell. Integrating live QVC-like video shopping to the page suggests Facebook is trying to translate areas it has stronger footholds in, such as livestreaming and e-commerce, to Marketplace.
The company has previously taken a crack at the idea. Last year, it confirmed it was testing a Facebook Live feature for merchants to demonstrate and describe products that users could buy. But the experiment, limited to Thailand, did not include the ability to directly purchase those products, and has been shuttered, a source told Bloomberg.
Other companies have seen their bids at launching QVC-like offerings for online video flare out or struggle to take off. In 2017, Amazon pulled the plug on a "Style Code Live" series that targeted millennial shoppers versus the typically older-skewing audience for live home shopping content. The show, hosted on the e-commerce giant's Prime Video portal, lasted just a year, but Amazon has launched similar efforts since then.
It's possible the appetite for content that layers in aspects of commerce is growing as technology improves and direct purchases from videos and ads become more common. More than one-third of Instagram users have purchased something directly from an ad on the platform, per a recent survey by video technology startup VidMob.