Facebook Opens the Gates to Branded Content

Publishers and Celebs Previously Couldn't Post Ads for Others

By Published on .

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves the stage after speaking at the Samsung Electronics Unpacked event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg leaves the stage after speaking at the Samsung Electronics Unpacked event ahead of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February. Credit: Pau Barrena/Bloomberg

Facebook has long prohibited publishers, celebrities and influencers from taking advantage of its vast platform to post branded content on their pages, unless it was part of a paid ad campaign on Facebook. As the rules said:

"Advertising on Pages: Third-party advertisements on Pages are prohibited, without our prior permission."

That was despite the proliferation in branded content as marketers tried to engage banner-blind consumers, and despite the occasional posting of branded content on Pages despite the rules.

On Friday, however, Facebook opened the gates in a blog post:

Branded content was one of the first forms of television marketing, when soap operas were created and sponsored by brands in the 1930s. It evolved to product placement and sponsorships across TV and radio, and now includes digital editorial content that highlights a marketer's product or service.

On Facebook, we define branded content as any post — including 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.

Today we're updating our branded content policy to enable verified Pages to share branded content on Facebook

That's good news for marketers and agencies, not to mention the publishers and people who can cash in, but a more subtle play by Facebook, which seems to be opening the door for more advertising on its property without any accompanying revenue. That might reflect partly the reality that some people were breaking the rules anyway, and partly a hope that marketers will turn branded content that does well organically into paid advertising.

Check out the full new rules here.