Facebook has teamed up with ad networks TrialPay and Peanut Labs to test offer-based advertisements as a payment option for Facebook Credits, the universal virtual currency for social games and applications hosted on its platform.
With offer-based ads, players can earn free digital cash for their favorite social games by participating in a variety of sponsored activities, such as signing up for trial subscriptions, watching commercials, completing surveys, or even just shopping at selected online retailers.
The offer-based industry came into fire late last year after some companies were accused of running scams disguised as legitimate offers, motivating Facebook to suspend Zynga's FishVille
for several days and reportedly ban
at least two offer providers, Gambit and Tatto Media, from its apps and games.
While the Facebook Credits system is currently in its testing phase and is currently implemented with games from only a few selected developers (e.g. CrowdStar, Playdom and RockYou), the social network is taking care to keep its offer as clean as possible by hand-picking which offers it wants to run with the virtual currency.
"We wanted to take a conservative approach with this test," says Facebook Developer Network director Ethan Beard, according to a report
from Inside Facebook. "We work hard to make sure all advertisers and other providers are in compliance."
He adds, "What we do in the future will be determined based on the information we gather here. We want to get a better understanding of how we can help our developers be more successful in driving business on the platform."