Facebook’s Recent ‘Tagging’ Update: Changing Native Ads as We Know It?

June 23, 2016

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Just when a content marketing trend gets off the ground Facebook goes ahead and releases another update to rock the boat, am I right? Native advertising has been a growing buzzword for the past couple of years, with brands continuing to increase their native advertising budgets due to its non-invasive feel and success with consumers. However, much of this could be changing with recent changes made by Facebook…


What native used to be on Facebook: Previously, publishers weren’t allowed to promote native ads from their websites on their official brand Facebook pages. For example, Buzzfeed could not post an article promoting a piece of brand-sponsored native content to their official Facebook page; they had to find another way to do it. Thus ‘partner’ pages were born, where publishers like Buzzfeed created Facebook pages specially for boosting native content.


The update: Facebook recently announced that publishers can now share native ads directly on their Facebook pages. Gone are the days of creating shady content partner pages – their content can now be promoted to a sizeable Facebook audience in a less roundabout way. This update seems good for publishers, right?


However, Facebook then released another tool that could crush native ads as we know it: the “tag”.


Now, if a publication wants to share native content on its official Facebook page (which is now allowed), it has to tag the brand in the headline (see below).



So is this a good thing or not?


From a user experience perspective: This is good. Users clearly know when a piece of content is branded and won’t feel tricked by the brand.


From a publisher’s perspective: In the past, publications used content hubs to boost and share native ads without having to say #ad. They also used dark posts that lived in the news feed but not on their Facebook profile—LOTS of loopholes. Now thanks to Facebook’s tagging rule, transparency is mandatory.


But that’s not even the biggest problem for publishers…


The problem: In the past, publishers were saying ‘native,’ but were actually just pushing out promoted Facebook posts. Once tagging goes into effect and the publisher puts money behind a post, the brand instantly has access to all metrics like clicks, reach, cost per click, and click through rate. This means that brands will be able to see that in many native campaigns, pushing out the content on Facebook really does drive a significant amount of campaign results. Smart marketers are beginning to see that some publishers are charging huge premiums and buying cheap clicks from Facebook, which is not the impressive native delivery they promised. Instead of promoting the content to their premium publishing network, the publishers are gaining a large amount of impressions and clicks from Facebook. This new update brings up the question to brands, is native even worth it if I’m buying directly through publishers, or should I buy directly from Facebook myself?


Thoughts from a marketer’s perspective: Transparency is the best policy. As a true believer in native advertising, I don’t think native is going anywhere anytime soon. Facebook’s new tagging update will promote a culture of honesty in the content community by forcing publishers to disclose their sponsored content on Facebook. No brand wants to overpay for cheap clicks, and now publishers will have to be honest in the ways they are pushing out native content. Facebook and native can and should go hand in hand; Facebook’s platform can be used as amplification of a publisher’s audience in native campaigns, but should be done so at an efficient and fair price. Remember, publishers still have a lot to offer in terms of premiere and loyal audiences. Facebook released this update so publishers work openly with Facebook and not against them, and give fairness to their promoted brands. If everybody can just get along, there is still huge opportunity in native advertising. *Facebook, brands, and publishers all sing Kumbaya around the fire*  


So what are your thoughts on the future of native? Tweet us @Norbella!