Forrester Discusses the Amazon-Facebook Connection

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-07-30

Amazon, Facebook Connect for Social Shopping

It's just a small button on Amazon users' recommendation Web pages, but the e-commerce giant's integration with Facebook Connect could light the torch for a major social shopping shift.

Beginning this week, when Amazon users click on the recommendations link from their Amazon home page, they see a new beta window on the right of the screen that invites them to "Tap into Your Facebook Network."

The tagline says: "Connect to Facebook to get Amazon recommendations for you and discover your friends' Favorites and Likes."

Users can click on the Sign in and Connect button, confirm their Amazon credentials, and they will see the window shown on Mashable here describing the service and asking them to connect with Facebook.

The service warns users that it will share Facebook information about them and their friends with Amazon, which creates a special Facebook recommendations Web page when users agree to the terms.

Here are some of the benefits the companies tout for these social recommendations:

  • discovering Amazon recommendations for movies, music, and more based on your Facebook Favorites and Likes;
  • seeing upcoming birthdays and finding Amazon Wish Lists for your friends on Facebook more easily;
  • getting great gift suggestions for your friends based on their Facebook Favorites and Likes; and
  • exploring your friends' Favorites and seeing who has similar interests.

Indeed, when eWEEK signed in, we saw notices about friends who have birthdays coming up, as well as some of their likes and pages they are fans of on Facebook. The "likes" include, predictably for Amazon, books, movies and music.

To do this, the connection allows Amazon to access a user's name, profile picture, gender, networks, user ID, lists of friends, and any other information users share with everyone on Facebook. The Website also accesses users' likes.

Amazon promises it will not share information from users' accounts or purchase history with Facebook. Amazon will also not attempt to contact Facebook friends or post anything to users' Facebook walls without their consent.

Forrester Discusses the Amazon-Facebook Connection


Importantly, users can disconnect from the shopping recommendation service with a single click.

Just like that, Amazon and Facebook have the tools for a powerful social recommendation engine, combining Amazon's and Facebook's hundreds of millions of users with proper respect for user privacy.

Interestingly, neither Amazon nor Facebook trotted out press releases or blog posts to announce the integration, preferring to fly under the radar with it. Facebook declined to comment on the deal, and Amazon's response was vague:

"We are continually working on behalf of our customers to improve the personalized recommendations experience on Amazon," Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Worldwide Design and Community, told eWEEK in a statement.

Forrester Research analyst Augie Ray called the Amazon-Facebook tie "measured." He noted that while it isn't a go-slow approach, it's not a wide open collaboration between the Amazon and Facebook platforms.

"Amazon is not sharing any purchase or account information with Facebook, for example, Ray says. "It could be argued it might benefit consumers if Amazon did so, since it would provide a more personalized experience on Facebook, but given some of Facebook's privacy issues, it seems Amazon wants to test the waters before sharing too much.

"This is a very smart approach because Amazon won't get entangled with any consumer worry about where their purchase data may end up," he adds.

After 15 years in business, Amazon has learned a thing or two about keeping consumers comfortable with its Web service.

Ray also likes that Amazon has made the benefits of connecting to Facebook crystal clear for consumers.

"So many media companies and brands offering a connection with Facebook leave it to consumers to assume the benefits," Ray explains. "Those benefits are easy to grasp, and they don't seem to raise the privacy concerns that have sometimes been associated with Facebook connections."

These are exciting times for social shopping. The Amazon-Facebook connection comes a couple weeks after Twitter launched its @earlybird promotions account to offer Twitter users discount deals from Disney, JetBlue and other partners.

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