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The invention of Facebook changed birthdays forever.
Suddenly the bar was lowered significantly. No longer do we actually have to remember the birthdays of our friends and co-workers. No longer do we have to buy them cards or gifts to celebrate. No longer do we have to feel bad about forgetting someone’s birthday.
Today’s is Mark Anderson’s birthday. Wish him Happy Birthday.
“Happy birthday, bro.”
Last year Facebook created a new option that raised the bar ever so slightly: Facebook Gifts.
Today is Jennifer Smith’s birthday. Give her a $5 Starbucks gift card.
Facebook Gifts let users to send wine, friendship bracelets, magnets, coffee mugs, and a myriad of other things to friends to celebrate their birthdays.
This seemed like a Godsend for people who forgot the birthdays of someone who they were really close to. While a $5 Target gift card or friendship bracelet won’t please a significant other (Sorry honey!) it showed John from accounting that you care about him beyond a simple “Happy Birthday.”
Well, hopefully John from accounting doesn’t really want a friendship bracelet this year because Facebook is cutting back its physical gift options and limiting the program to gift cards and digital codes.
According to RetailWire, the reason Facebook is making the change to online products exclusively is because 80 percent of Gifts purchases were gift cards.
This means that some merchants that Facebook works with will end their contracts and some will tweak them from physical goods to gift cards. New retailers will be joining the Facebook Gifts program as it makes the transition to completely digital.
Facebook launched the Gifts program in September 2012 in hopes of increasing revenue with gift card sales. Most recently, Facebook started showing upcoming birthdays a few days in advance to give users more time to buy and send gifts to their friends. There’s less of a time crunch to buy the gifts and with digital coupons you don’t have to think about shipping and delivery dates.
Despite the changes, PCMag.com crunched the numbers and pointed out what little affect this has on Facebook’s revenue. Gifts and promoted posts only made $5 million last year – and the majority of that came from promoted posts. Compare that to the $1,245 million in ad revenue that Facebook made in Q1 alone, and Gifts revenue looks paltry.
Heck, as soon as Facebook launches video ads, they’ll make more money in a week than Facebook Gifts does all year. Facebook video ads will bring in almost $4 million a day. If Facebook were a jewelry store, video ads would be gold necklaces and Facebook Gifts would be a gumball machine in the corner.
With Facebook Gifts, users can judge their friends by who bought them a gift card versus who couldn’t even be bothered to capitalize “happy birthday” in their message. It adds a whole new tier to friendship levels and the celebration of birthdays in the online world.