Facebook’s New Policy Allows Branded Content, Not All Ads

Facebook has a new policy regarding so-called organic, or branded, content, now permitted to appear on Facebook Instant Articles, video and Facebook Live. Advertisers and Web publishers must display an icon to make it clear that the content — articles, videos and images — comes from an advertiser. Up until now, they have only been able to post content in ads. This is good news for BuzzFeed, Forbes and others that frequently supply sponsored content on Facebook, which also stands to reap rewards from the new policy.

The Wall Street Journal quotes Facebook vice president of partnerships Dan Rose, who said, “for a long time, for media companies, Facebook has been primarily about distribution.”

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“But we’re increasingly trying to help partners make money,” he added. “And this is something they’ve been asking for a lot.” Facebook will gain if “marketers and their media partners” also run ads on Facebook “to make sure that more people can see this sponsored content in their news feeds.”

At the end of last year, the Federal Trade Commission issued guidelines on native advertising, emphasizing that publishers and advertisers need to be clearer in labeling sponsored content. Facebook, which previously stated that, “third-party advertisements on Pages are prohibited, without our prior permission,” now says its new policy “wasn’t aimed at addressing any FTC concerns” and that “responsibility lies with publishers and marketers.”

“Branded content is a growing and evolving part of the media landscape,” writes Facebook product manager Clare Rubin in a blog post. “People will now be connected to more of the content they care most about on Facebook as publishers and influencers gain an incentive to share more quality content, of all kinds, with their fans.” Not permitted, however, are “blatant ad formats” such as pre-roll video ads or banner ads.

Rose also described a new tool from Facebook to “help companies identify which sponsored posts are resonating with users, and they can pay to run more ads promoting this content.”