Facebook has just modified the rules on how sponsored content can be embedded in its platform’s content without stirring the ire of the Federal Trade Commission. Reportedly, marketers can now ask publishers to insert subtle references to a certain product or service in their posts and pay Facebook nothing for the covert ad.
Advertisers usually had to pay both publishers and Facebook for sponsored content to gain the much-sought traffic. Branded content’s value depends on how much traffic a specific post or piece of content generates. So, the 1-billion-plus-user-base Facebook is the best spot to find the audience to one’s advertorial content.
Yet, until recently, trying to distribute sponsored content organically, i.e. without users noticing it, on the social media site without paying for it first was against Facebook’s rules.
On Apr. 8, Facebook announced that it has eliminated all restrictions on such content. Anyone can now freely distribute branded content on the site as long as the publisher or celebrity has a verified page and the branded content is marked with a tag.
The tagging is required to comply with the FTC’s disclosure rules since the agency has a long history of cracking down on the advertorial content that is not labeled as such. The group said late last year that tags like “Brought to You by..” or “Presented to you by..” would be enough if the marketer only paid for but didn’t create the content.
The FTC couldn’t be immediately reached for comment on Facebook’s new branded content rules. But according to a recent statement, the organization noted that all advertorial content should be flagged as such, independent of where that content appears.
The commission also said that organic ads should by no means misguide users. For this purpose, anyone who creates, distributes or monetizes native ads, or ads disguised as content, should warn users on the content’s commercial nature. The FTC declined to link the statement to Facebook or any other company.
But the labels could also help Facebook tell sponsored organic content from non-commercial one. This piece of information allows the company to create algorithms and let machines sort the two types of content out. That could prove useful when picking the right content on the news feed since Facebook has a history of excluding content that is too promotional from its users’ news feed.
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