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Facebook Opens Floodgates to Sponsored Content

Move will pave way for publishers, media companies and celebs to make more money off the hoards of traffic driven by Facebook

Facebook is lifting its ban on content posts paid for by brands or marketers, allowing product-placement content in any form by people and publishers big enough to have the verified “checkmark” on their profiles.

The move allows what’s known as “sponsored content” or “native ads,” a form of marketing that has been a boon for publishers like Vice and Buzzfeed, as well as online stars on sites like YouTube and Vine. As opposed online advertising like banners that run next to articles or clips, “native ads” are essentially product placement for the digital age: a brand or advertiser pays an influencer or publisher to create a piece a content that integrates the product or message.

Facebook, which operates the biggest online social network in the world, drives a flood of traffic for content creators who thrive there, but traditionally it has limited the ways people can make money there.

Now, verified pages are allowed to share this branded content on Facebook, be it text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos or live streams, the company said in a post on Facebook’s blog.

The company said that it is also a new tool that makes it easy for publishers and influencers to tag a marketer when they publish branded content. Publishers and influencers must use this tag for all branded content shared on Facebook, it said. With the tag, the marketer will be notified, can access post-level data, and has the option of sharing and boosting the post.

The new guidelines prohibit overly promotional features, such as persistent watermarks and pre-roll advertisements. Cover photos and profile pictures can’t  have third-party products, brands or sponsors.

The new policy and tool roll out on Friday, but support for live video is supposed to hit in the coming weeks.