Facebook (News - Alert) is likely very much aware of its tenuous position in terms of its shareholders. The need to show improved profits, and continually improving profits, weighs heavily on the whole business. To that end, it's been spotted getting into several new potential streams of revenue, from gift services to paid messaging. Now, it's testing one more potential source of revenue: ticket sales.
Right now, the option to buy tickets through Facebook is only available in, oddly enough, Israel and the Netherlands, though some reports indicate that the testing may be a little broader than first indicated. But that option is appearing in several different ways, especially through the appearance of "buy tickets" buttons cropping up in news feeds and on event pages. Pressing the "buy tickets" button, meanwhile, gives users access to third-party sites like Ticketmaster or Eventim that allow users to complete the transaction from the link on the Facebook page.
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That's an interesting step by itself, but it's got some wondering if Facebook will take the next step with this particular process. Right now, Facebook is just routing users to third parties, for which it might well be getting a commission of some kind--exact details on that point are still unclear since it's all in the testing stage--but some have wondered if this isn't the prelude to a larger sort of clearinghouse affair, in which tickets can be offered for sale and purchased all directly via Facebook. That would put Facebook in direct competition with companies like Eventbrite, a company that allows users to create an event and then collect RSVPs, with or without cash involved.
Facebook needs to show some income potential, plain and simple. They've certainly made some excellent strides of late, with their mobile commerce network and their mobile advertising capability--it wasn't but a couple weeks ago when Mark Zuckerberg (News - Alert) first laid out the new protocol that Facebook is now a mobile company--but Facebook shareholders are not a forgiving bunch from the look of the most recent earnings reports. Facebook, however, is clearly looking to branch out into as many profitable sectors as it can; it's certainly not hard to give them credit for sheer effort.
Whether Facebook's ticket strategy can turn a profit or not remains to be seen, but it's clear that Facebook is out to turn that profit from whatever sources it can find. Facebook certainly has a lot going for it: a massive user base, brilliant coders and plenty of resources. But Facebook's going to have to find the way to use those resources properly or risk losing them for good. Ticket sales may ultimately prove to be just that way.
Edited by Brooke Neuman