Facebook has adopted a new policy for branded content that forbids aggressive marketing tactics and will force publishers to tag their marketing clients in sponsored posts — and the social company will begin pulling down material that doesn’t comply with the rules.
Under the new program, Facebook users will see a “with” tag when a publisher shares branded content (see example above, showing Lady Gaga’s performance at the 2016 Grammy Awards sponsored by Intel). Facebook defines branded content as any post with text, photos or video from a media company, celebrity or influencer that specifically mentions or features a third-party product, brand or sponsor.
Some branded content is now verboten on Facebook. The company said that based on user feedback, its updated branded-content guidelines prohibit “overly promotional” features, such as persistent watermarks and pre-roll ads. In addition, cover photos and profile pictures must not feature third-party products, brands or sponsors. Branded-content integrations that are allowed to be posted on Facebook include content like product placement, end cards and marketers’ logos.
“This update is something that media companies, public figures, influencers and marketers have been asking for, as branded content is a growing and evolving part of the media landscape,” Facebook said in announcing the new policy.
With the new policy, Facebook is introducing a new tool for publishers and influencers to tag marketing partners in the Page composer. In Facebook’s Ads Manager and Power Editor, there will be a “Sponsor” field. When marketers are tagged, they will be notified, have access to post-level data and have the option of sharing the post.
“We think transparency is a good thing. This is a reflection of the growth of native content,” David Grant, president of digital publisher PopSugar Studios, said in a statement.
Facebook touted the change as a boon for marketers, allowing them to more easily use their branded content creative for ads and to actively engage in sponsorships.
In December, the Federal Trade Commission released a set of guidelines for native advertising, aimed at ensuring sponsored content isn’t misleading and includes “clear and conspicuous disclosures.” According to Facebook, its new branded-content policy is aimed at helping partners build their businesses on the service and that publishers and marketers still have an obligation to clearly communicate the commercial nature of sponsored posts.