If you are a regular user of Facebook’s service, you know that continual change is a big part of the experience. New features are added, some are tweaked, while others may disappear overnight.

The same is true of Facebook’s policies, which are modified frequently. And while Facebook’s new privacy and data collection policies have been widely analyzed, many of its branded content policies have shifted over the years without much awareness, leaving many in the media industry with incomplete or inaccurate information about what the influential platform allows.

Facebook defines branded content as any post — including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos, and Live videos — that features a third-party product, brand, or sponsor.

Here are five common misconceptions about Facebook’s branded content policy:

1) Facebook doesn’t allow you to sell advertisements or sponsorships for your content in the newsfeed.

This misconception is more common than you think.  While our publishing partners are now aware that Facebook allows sponsored and branded content to be sold around their content, agency partners are not as up to date.  We hear stories weekly from our partners’ sales teams that make it clear that the news about sponsored content has not made it all the way through the advertising ecosystem.  To be clear, Facebook issued a major update to its policy in April 2016.  Since that date, Facebook allows publishers to sell sponsored and branded content around the content they create or have licensed.

2) You can’t have an advertiser’s logo on screen for more than 3 seconds.

While there was a point in time when Facebook limited the amount of time that a sponsor’s logo or “watermark” could be on screen, those days are long gone. On May 30, 2017, Facebook announced a major overhaul to its branded content policy, largely in response to publisher feedback.

While there was a point in time when Facebook limited the amount of time that a sponsor’s logo or “watermark” could be on screen, those days are long gone.

In short, the new rules are much more advertiser and sponsor friendly.  Since that last update, Facebook no longer has any restrictions on the amount of time a logo can be on screen.  To make it even clearer, a Facebook Media blog post clarified the policy even further, stating: “We now allow logos, watermarks, and graphical overlays to persist throughout a video.”

3) Facebook might remove my entire page from their platform if I violate the branded content policy.

It’s understandable that the fear of running afoul of Facebook runs deep. Especially if your entire page is at risk if there is a violation of policy. However, in its May 30, 2017 policy update, Facebook removed the Sword of Damocles from above publishers’ heads. The same Facebook blog providing clarity around the use of logos and graphical overlays also gave additional guidance around the enforcement of branded content policy violations: “Finally, we are changing the way we enforce branded content policies on our platform. Pages that post branded content in violation of our policies will get a notification letting them know what needs to be corrected. We will no longer remove violating posts; instead, violating posts will still appear on a publisher’s Page, but will be hidden from News Feed. Publishers can restore News Feed visibility by fixing the violation.”

To recap, play by the rules — always.  However, if you stray from the letter of the law, Facebook will notify you of a violation and allow you to bring the post back into compliance.

4) You can’t show a sponsor logo in the first three seconds of a video.

Incorrect.  The current branded content policy allows logos, watermarks and graphic overlays with sponsor branding to be on-screen at any point in the video and be on screen persistently.  Simply put, logos can be on screen now at the start of a video or Facebook Live broadcast and remain on screen the entire time.  As far as why this rule is so confusing, it simply comes down to the fact that not everyone stays current on Facebook policies. That’s what we are here for.

Simply put, logos can be on screen now at the start of a video or Facebook Live broadcast and remain on screen the entire time.

The other good news is that since Facebook launched their major revision to their branded content policy in April of 2016, the rules have seemed to relax in favor of a better advertising experience.  Many of our partners hope this trend continues.  Stay tuned to our blog or subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date of Facebook’s branded content policies.

Here are two interesting facts about how powerful logos and sponsor branding combined with quality video can drive value for advertisers:

  • Facebook’s own research has found that consumers are 23% more likely to remember a brand’s name when the brand is featured in the first three seconds, versus 13% more likely to recall if the brand is featured after four seconds. (Insert URL citation)
  • A Facebook-commissioned Nielsen study in 2015 showed that video viewed for less than two seconds can generate more than a third of the recall and purchase intent, and nearly half the value of a video ad is delivered within the first 3 seconds. (Insert URL citation)

5) Branded content gets reduced organic reach.

We hear this question quite a bit.  At Share Rocket, we have been analyzing the performance of TV content for over 4 years now.  We have seen no evidence that posts with handshake tags have reduced reach.  Facebook has been pretty clear about their desire to get more quality video from publishers to be posted natively on Facebook.  One way to incentivize publishers to that is to allow publishers to make meaningful revenue through sponsorships and branded content.  It wouldn’t make much sense to reduce the reach of those posts if the goal was to penalize vs. incentivize publishers.

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