Facebook Pushing Birthday Virtual Gifts on Profile Pages

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Facebook is increasing its push into the birthday virtual gifts business with a new profile page tweak: when friends visit your profile on your birthday, the Facebook Gifts application is selected by default, showing an array of virtual gifts available for sale from Facebook’s gift store.

The move comes after Facebook revamped its gift store in early November, moving to a virtual credits system to more easily allow for variably priced inventory. Since then, Facebook has increased promotion of its virtual gifts on the home page. All of the gifts shown by default in Facebook’s new profile page promotion cost 100 credits ($1).

Update: Facebook closed the Gift Shop in July 2010 and no longer directly sells virtual goods.

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In addition, Facebook launched its own birthday notification service last November as well. As we wrote at the time, “While this change also may appear minor at first, it’s a signal that Facebook is seriously eyeing the virtual gifts business.” Adding the gift store to profile pages is another step in that direction. It has been estimated that Facebook’s virtual gifts business ran between $30-$40 million last year.

Coincidentally, leading birthday reminder application SocialCalendar, which has experienced a bit of a dip and revival in its monthly active user numbers over the last couple months, today announced the launch of its own virtual gifting service. Users are now able to send virtual gifts to friends bought using currency either earned in the application or with cash.

SocialCalendar CEO Raj Lalwani told Inside Facebook today that he expects virtual gifts to be an “important source of revenue” for the company.

Update: A Facebook spokesperson told Inside Facebook today that this feature is currently just a “test that ran momentarily” on the site. “It has not launched as a permanent feature but is part of regular functionality experiments Facebook conducts on the site to improve the user experience,” Facebook says.