Facebook said Friday that it has updated its policies to enable retailers and other brands to work with media companies, celebrities and social media media influencers to share verified branded content, provided they clearly disclose that the content is sponsored or provided by a third party.
Facebook defines branded content as any post—including text, photos, videos and links—that mentions or features a third party product, brand or sponsor. Other forms of branded content will continue to be banned, according to Facebook.
Publishers and influencers posting promotional content must use a new Facebook branded content tool, available through the Page composer on desktop and iOS, Power Editor, Ads Manager, the Marketing API and in the iOS Mentions app. (Android capabilities are coming soon.) The tool lets publishers and influencers tag the marketer behind a branded content post.
In their blog post published Friday, Facebook Product Manager Clare Rubin and VP of Partnerships Nick Grudin say that media companies, public figures, influencers and marketers have been asking for a tool like this. The new approach will allow marketers to track the effectiveness of their efforts across the Facebook platform, and it will allow Facebook to earn more from those efforts as well.
“For brands and businesses, the new tool will introduce more transparency and allow them to better understand how their marketing initiatives are performing across Facebook,” wrote Rubin and Grudin. “Additionally, marketers can now leverage branded content creative for ads and actively engage in sponsorships to ensure their campaigns are useful, interesting and entertaining to their target audiences. We are committed to ensuring that the branded content experience is engaging for people on Facebook and that the ecosystem thrives for our partners and marketers.”
Rubin and Grudin note that branded content is an age-old approach. “Soap operas” were so named because of the consumer goods companies that sponsored them, and these days product placement and sponsorships are routine in movies, television and radio. Digital media, of course, is rife with marketing content as well.
The branded content tool signals Facebook's latest effort to drive additional revenues. The social media giant appears to be preparing for consumers to use its Messenger chat application to make purchases at brick-and-mortar stores, according to a report last month from tech news site The Information. Messenger would support payments without making users leave the app, decreasing friction and underlining the value of the in-app advertisements Facebook is set to debut in June. The chat app already helps consumers execute money transfers and request rides from Uber and Lyft, and facilitates customer service interactions for retailers such as Zulily.
Facebook alo will be allowing advertisers to send ads within the Messenger app, according to a leaked document seen by TechCrunch. The ads would be limited to consumers who themselves initiated chat threads with the advertising company in question.