In the News(feed): Facebook to rework promotional content controls

Anyone active on Facebook is all too familiar with the advertising and promotional content that has, over the past two years, snuck into the News Feed page. Indeed, between posts about a friend’s new baby, the odd political rant, who just completed their first marathon and the like, it’s more and more common to see in-your-face ads pushing users to buy a product, enter a contest or install the latest hot app.

Facebook

But now, after a massive data-generating survey effort by the popular social networking site, Facebook users will begin to see less out-of-the-blue promotions, which are more often than not just ads reconfigured to look like targeted engagements purportedly based on a user’s “likes.”

The results from the survey showed clearly that a big turn-off for users are that posts that are supposed to be “organic”—in that they are directed from pages said users have “liked”—are actually appearing as straight-up advertising. It seems that the cause of this can be linked to the fact that Facebook, which has built-in controls designed to control the number and relevance of the ads people see on their News Feed, has not put forth the same effort to control promotional page posts.

In reality, the line between what qualifies as an “ad” and what is intended to be a “promotional post” is very thin, yet distinguishing between the two would, on the surface, seem like an easy task: ads are generated and tailored based on a charting of the user’s engagement, while promotions come directly from pages that have been highlighted through the “like” option.

Facebook readily admits that as News Feed becomes more and more competitive with business-based Pages pushing “promotional creative” posts, it’s necessary to act to stem the flood of ads. Therefore, beginning next month, the social media giant is reporting that, due to their rollout of new promotional page controls, “people will see less of this type of content in their News Feeds … and Pages that post promotional creative should expect their organic distribution to fall significantly over time.”

That said, Facebook is quick to diffuse fears that its site will become one giant billboard: rather, it plans to amp up the relevance of stories appearing in News Feeds. What does this mean exactly? Expect to see more content that speaks directly to your reported “likes” and a significant decrease in posts from business-centric Pages that generate lots and lots of content.

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