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Tiffanie Seward

Tiffanie Seward's Public Library

  • “I think this is much more about payments than about movies,” said Alex Rampell, the chief executive of TrialPay, an advertising company that offers free Facebook Credits to people who buy certain products.

     Mr. Rampell said that millions of Facebook users were using Credits to pay for virtual goods inside games like FarmVille and Mafia Wars. “It seems like a logical step to use the currency to pay for movies,” he said.

     Facebook began testing Credits in virtual games nearly two years ago. But the company, which keeps 30 percent of all transactions conducted through Credits, has made it clear that it wants to turn its virtual currency into a payment mechanism for all sorts of digital goods.

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    Jessica Schell, Universal's exec VP of business development, differentiates between Facebook and VOD. "When we offer movies on VOD, it's about that transaction," she says. "We are viewing Facebook more as a promotional platform and a way to engage with the fans.

  • Facebook takes 30% of the revenue for the rentals. From the perspective of the privately held, Palo Alto, Calif.-based company, the motion picture studios are treated the same way as the developer of a game or a shopping program, all of whom are welcome to build on the social networking site's open platform. (Facebook provides guidance to developers, and requires everyone building on its platform to conform to its policies.)

  • "Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people," said Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, in a statement. "Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world's largest social network."

  • "It's based on recommendations and shows their friends are attending," Live Nation VP of social media marketing Gretchen Fox says, noting that like the Ticketmaster app, event suggestions are also based on listening activity through Spotify accounts with Facebook integration. "Along the way fans have opportunities to earn music-related badges and points. Those points are redeemable for real-world goods like concert cash."
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    Fox notes that large amounts of tickets have also been sold during presales by setting up Facebook event pages for individual concert dates. For Jay-Z and Kanye West's 2011 Watch the Throne North America arena tour, Live Nation set up Facebook pages for each date on the trek. As a result, the tour received 88,000 RSVPs in a 48-hour window, Fox says.

  • Katy Perry has also experienced the power of aligning with a major social media company to announce a large arena tour. After nearly a year of promotion for 2010's Teenage Dream, Perry became the first musical artist to appear on Facebook's live video streaming channel when she announced her North American arena tour in January 2011 to more than 1.4 million viewers. It went on to rank 13th among the top 25 tours of the year, grossing $48.8 million from 98 concerts that drew more than 1 million fans, according to Billboard Boxscore.

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    Realistically, people rarely return to a Facebook brand page they've "liked," said Mr. Widman. But they do often see the brand's wall posts.

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