While publishers generally rely on ads to generate revenue, a large chunk also comes from other (somewhat frowned upon) sources; advertorials. These are pieces paid for by advertisers but made to look like standard editorial content. And while Facebook has so far banned all advertorial content from its platform, it’s finally relented under pressure from publishers, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday.
So far, Facebook’s policy was to disallow paid content from being posted on the social media platform by publishers, which is when it wouldshow up in your News Feed, unless specifically part of a paid-fo ad placement. The new change means that publishers can now do just that, but with a couple of caveats. The pubishers that want to post advertorials have to have been verified by Facebook, and they need to tag the article’s sponsor brand in their post. As Facebook told WSJ, “For a long time, for media companies, Facebook has been primarily about distribution. But we’re increasingly trying to help partners make money, and this is something they’ve been asking for a lot.”
The reason for this? It’s no surprise that readers are more likely to interact with articles than to traditional ad banners. But, seeing as most publishers’ readers are now migrating from their websites to platforms like Facebook and Twitter, the news houses and their ad sponsors need a way to generate revenue from advertorials commissioned and so need to increasingly post to Facebook. In a blog post regarding the change, facebook has specified that the new policy applies to “text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos, that specifically mentions or features a third party product, brand, or sponsor. It is typically posted by media companies, celebrities, or other influencers”.
But as negative as it might appear at first, this is actually a move that benefits both Facebook and its users. The change now forces publishers to clearly identify paid-for content on the platform, when they might have so far being posting them under Facebook’s radar, which means readers can immediately identify them as well. Whether you choose to keep reading anyway is your perogative. In addition, the clear tagging lets facebook’s algorithm sort through regular and ad posts effectively, meaning it can sort them better in your News Feed. However, on the down side, you can definitely expect a lot more paid-for video series to be coming your way soon.