Facebook may not be a retailer, but that doesn't mean the company can't sell gift cards. Starting September 5, Target will start selling Facebook Credits gift cards in stores nationwide.

Consumers don't necessarily need easier ways to spend money on Facebook, but it is a great trick to introduce more consumers to Facebook games. Free marketing for Target, too.

Facebook Credits are the social network's new currency that pays for goods in Facebook's myriad addicting games. Target will be the first brick and mortar to carry Facebook gift cards. According to the retailer:

"Facebook Credits are an easy and convenient way for people to buy digital goods in more than 150 popular social games and applications offered by independent developers on Facebook. The newly-launched Facebook Credits gift cards will be an ideal gift this holiday season for those who enjoy playing social games on Facebook."

Target shoppers will be able to buy $15, $25 and $50 cards.

More than 200 million people play games on Facebook every month, and at least 19 games on Facebook have more than 10 million active users a month. Facebook's self-serve advertising platform has been performing tremendously over the last year. The social network is expected to rake in an estimated $1.3 billion in online advertising revenue worldwide this year, up 92% from 2009, according to eMarketer. But as SiliconAlleyInsider writes:

"The whole virtual goods business – the one Facebook is bringing to Target on September 5 – could bring in another few hundred million dollars. Former Facebook president Sean Parker says the business could end up being a third of Facebook's revenues this year."

According to Inside Network, Americans will spend more than $1.6 billion on virtual goods and social gaming in 2010. Meanwhile, Facebook takes a healthy 30% cut of Facebook Credits sales. The social network is already signing up new users hand over fist, but this could be a good way to boost its gaming business. That's because people love buying gift cards. The domestic prepaid gift card market is expected to reach $86.2 billion this year, compared with $80.6 billion in 2009, according to Mercator Advisory Group.

Despite the impressive gaming revenues that Facebook brings in, there are many Facebook users that never actually play or see those games. Gift cards at the register at Target and other retailers could work as great marketing to consumers who don't currently use Facebook in that way.

Furthermore, this is a great move for Target. Facebook wants its Credits system to take off. And will be promoting the new cards in various ways. Add to that Target's status as the first adopter to sell these cards, and the whole partnership starts to win Target some great tech savvy points.

Meghan Keane

Published 1 September, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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