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As mobile continues to emerge as a critical frontier for brands and retailers, Facebook is taking another crack at establishing itself as a true shopping outlet.

The company believes it can play a unique role in the shopping world–helping people both discover new products and make decisions when they’re ready to buy.

“In a sense, we are becoming something like the new storefront,” Martin Barthel, Facebook’s global head of retail and ecommerce strategy, told reporters at a holiday press preview in New York on Tuesday. “People discover products and then we redirect these people to mobile or desktop properties of the retailers we are working with.”

Of course, Facebook has some formidable competition on this front–namely Amazon and Google, where millions of people begin product related searches– and in Amazon’s case, they have a long history of actually buying things on the platform.

And then there’s Facebook’s fraught history with social commerce–a category that has never truly taken off.

Still, Facebook believes that because people spend so much time on its mobile app, it can lay claim to being able to help marketers pitch their products before people know they even want them (like TV) and then help people find products when they know their ready to pull the trigger on purchases (like Google and Amazon).

“Facebook wants to be a solution not just at the very bottom of the marketing funnel for solutions like retargeting, we actually want to create new purchase intent and consideration further up,” said Graham…