Facebook Becomes Box Office for ‘Toy Story 3’

Walt Disney Co. has quietly developed an application for Facebook that marries e-commerce functionality with social marketing. Disney Tickets Together, which debuted last week, lets people pre-order tickets to the upcoming “Toy Story 3” movie directly from the application. While engaging in the purchasing process, moviegoers are asked which of their Facebook friends they wants to invite. They can also push news of ticket purchases to their Facebook wall if they want to.

Disney partnered with Fandango.com to build the app. The company will decide whether to expand it for other movie tickets depending on how much impact it has on “Toy Story 3” sales.

The movie’s release date is June 18.

Perfect Spot

The app is a marketer’s dream, said Robert Tuchman, executive vice president of Premiere Global Sports.

“Instead of advertising to a general audience on a radio station, for example, you can target a fan page of people you know are interested in this movie,” Tuchman told the E-Commerce Times. “You can market directly to, say, 50,000 dedicated fans.”

Tickets, in general, are an ideal product to sell on Facebook for that reason, he added. “We have seen a lot of secondary ticket providers start advertising on Facebook in the last three to six months.”

It is something that Premier Global Sports, which maintains the GoTickets.com site, has been considering as well.

“We have heard some good feedback about these ads,” said Tuchman.

As for an app similar to what Disney is offering, that is now on his radar as well. “I would definitely create something like this.”

Disney has called its application the first of its kind — that is, the first soup-to-nuts sales app that never leaves the Facebook page and that urges friends to purchase the same product.

Quiet Commerce

However, it’s not the first instance of e-commerce on Facebook. Commerce has been occurring on the network in various forms — although with little fanfare and usually on a limited basis.

The Facebook fanpage for Pampers, for example, sold Pampers Cruisers diapers with Dry Max for a time, but the page now directs visitors to online retailers that sell the brand instead.

Most of the companies that sell on Facebook tend to stick to such activities as making special offers or delivering sales notifications.

There are a number of reasons for that, starting with the additional cost of building a special e-commerce application for a fan page. There’s also the nature of the engagement that takes place on Facebook to consider.

No Blatant Sales Pitches

Most Facebook users don’t see it as a place to conduct business, Sean Cook, CEO of ShopVisible, told the E-Commerce Times. “Conversing with companies, sure — but customers will not invite you into the conversation if you are trying to blatantly sell them something.”

Also, for all the hype about social media, there are still a lot of companies that are new to the experience.

“They are just now getting comfortable with it,” John Davie, founder of Fantourage, told the E-Commerce Times. “Actual sales would be another big step for them.”

Other companies will eventually move in this direction, predicted ShopVisible’s Cook — especially if Disney’s foray is regarded as a success.

However, he urged a judicious approach: “Make sure the offer is relevant and provides value.”

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