Facebook’s effort to tap into the popularity of buy, swap and sell groups, Facebook Marketplace, is two years old this week, and to mark the occasion, The Social Network has outlined some interesting new, AI-fueled tools to enhance the Marketplace experience, and boost Facebook’s evolving eCommerce efforts.
First off, Facebook’s providing sellers with more context as to what they should add to their listings to maximize results, based on image recognition and comparative insight from similar listed items.
“What does this mean exactly? Here’s an example: if you wanted to sell your home office chair, Marketplace could use AI to help you sell it even faster by suggesting you price it between $50-75 based on what similar chairs recently sold for. It will also automatically categorize the chair as “furniture” based on the photo and description, so that you don’t have to.”
That might not seem overly ground-breaking, but there’s a little more to it than this basic functionality.
For example, right now, Marketplace uses machine learning tools to highlight similar items to those you’ve searched for and/or expressed interest in. Up until now, those matches have been fairly limited, because they were largely based on simple text descriptions – and not everyone’s great at explaining what it is they’re looking to sell.
As explained by Facebook:
“From the very first search, results are recommended by a content retrieval system coupled with a detailed index that is compiled for every product. Since the only text in many of these listings is a price and a description that can be as brief as “dresser” or “baby stuff,” it was important to build in context from the photos as well as the text for these listings. In practice, we’ve seen a nearly 100 percent increase in consumer engagement with the listings since we rolled out this product indexing system.”
So it’s not just about ensuring that your listings are achieving best results, it’s also building a contextual understanding model to better map the items on Marketplace, and then using that to link relevant items to other searchers based on more data points, which is far more significant in the scope the broader process.
Facebook’s also adding some other, more subtle, AI improvements.
“One element now automatically enhances the lighting for photos as the seller uploads them, making the images easier for buyers to see what’s pictured.”
An interesting, yet likely overlooked process, while Facebook’s also (as you can see in the above video) providing new M Suggestions message prompts to streamline communication between buyers and sellers.