Facebook Updated Its Branded Content Policy. Here’s What It Means

It's been well over a year since Facebook loosened up its restrictions on which Pages can share branded content. In 2016, verified Pages of brands, influencers, and publishers were able to enter into partnerships on sponsored and unsponsored posts you've seen pop up in the News Feed:


An example of what a boosted branded content post looks like, from Facebook.

Branded content has become popular among publishers and brands alike, with some media companies reporting a 4.4 times higher engagement rate on branded content than what's average for Facebook. The platform is now providing more detail on what qualifies as branded content both on Facebook and Instagram. The changes come hot on the heels of enhanced quality content protections pushed live in late 2017, and the sweeping algorithm change favoring family and friends announced early in 2018.

The most significant change to Facebook's branded content policy is that it will not accept paid branded content unless both partners had a role in the creation process. Specifically, the policy says, "Don't accept anything of value to post content that you did not create or were not involved in the creation of, or that does not feature you."

For example, if you run a fitness Page and post sponsored content for a brand like Gold's Gym, it would be acceptable to do so if:

  1. Your Page/publication created content FOR Gold's Gym. (E.g., wrote an article, filmed a video.)
  2. If the content comes from Gold's Gym directly, it MUST feature your Page/publication in some way. (I.e., a contest or offer for fans of that specific fitness Page.)

Gold's Gym cannot simply provide generic content to distribute to your Page's audience as an ad.

As a litmus test, ask yourself if what you're posting is original content made specifically for a relationship between your Page/publication and another brand. If it's not original in some way, chances are it's going to be flagged as an abuse of the policy.

It can be a bit confusing. Facebook provided more details on what qualifies as branded content after the original policy announcement. The policy update is an extension of Facebook's continuing efforts to end links to third-party pages with overbearing ads or dishonest content using clickbait methods. Even if you're publishing quality content, it's important to label it correctly. Here's a table to double check what your content may be identified as:

From Facebook.

Here is an example of what the branded content label looks like:

Image from Facebook.

Be sure to always include the branded content tag when it's applicable. Here's a step-by-step tutorial on how to use it. Be sure to always clearly mark the details of your partnership within the article your Facebook post links out to as well. Here's an example from Entrepreneur magazine:

The platform will be able to take note of these violations via a system that can differentiate a creator's post from an unaffiliated publisher that features the brand, but not the creator. If publishers or creators have repeat violations, the platform could restrict their access to monetization tools, including the branded content label. The platform could also require the brand to run the content as an ad to track its performance, according to Marketing Land. If publishers and creators are not careful about labeling their content correctly and following the new guidelines, their page boosts and promotions could be in danger of being blocked. Pages have been entirely blocked and banned from the platform for policy violations in the past.

The change is set to go into effect in March 2018.

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Our Core Web Vitals drastically outpace every competitor, and we have the receipts

In an effort to build user retention and increase conversions, publishers are making a common mistake. They're adding more features to their websites, including ad placements, but losing sight of the main revenue driver: user experience.

The key to unlocking user retention lies completely in site performance. Currently, publishers are trying to build optimized websites that translate easily across devices and platforms, but fail to deliver an experience that checks all their boxes and prioritizes their readers. It takes less than a second of delayed load time to turn away a user. This is why Google has made page speed a top ranking factor on search, and shepherded the entire open web's newfound prioritization on site performance.

Game Changer: Google's Core Web Vitals Announcement

Google cemented its seriousness about page experience with the announcement of its Core Web Vitals measurements in Google Search Console. Core Web Vitals are three specific metrics that Google uses to determine a site's overall usability. While these data points will evolve over time, the 2020 version of vitals consists of three specific metrics:

Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): A website's LCP is the time it takes to load the main content on a page. Google wants LCP to happen within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.

First Input Delay (FID): This metric quantifies a user's experience when trying to interact with unresponsive pages. This usually occurs between First Meaningful Paint (FMP) and Time to Interactive (TTI) (more on what these two mean below). You want your FID score to be low to prove the usability of your site. According to Google, pages should haven an FID of less than 100 milliseconds.

Cumulative Layout Shift Score (CLS): CLS determines how often your users experience unexpected layout shifts or changes on a page. To ensure visual stability, you want your CLS score to be low. Google wants pages to maintain a CLS score of less than 0.1.

From Google.

Google says Core Web Vitals scores will be considered across every page, and will be a ranking factor in its Top Stories feature. While relevant quality content will always be the most important, the page experience ranking is now a make-or-break metric for your site's survival.

"A good page experience doesn't override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search." —From Google's page experience announcement, May 2020

Core Web Vitals will determine every site's performance score. You can see your site's Core Web Vitals specifically via Google Search Console, but your website's overall page performance is measured using Google's PageSpeed Insights and Lighthouse tools.

At RebelMouse, we guarantee a performance score of 90 or higher via PageSpeed Insights. To do this, we've built out a platform infrastructure that exceeds industry standards on Google's key metrics, particularly its Core Web Vitals, outperforming most industry leaders.

You can read more about how we've mastered Google's KPIs here. But the truth is in the data. Below is table that provides a snapshot into how RebelMouse-powered sites score:

And here's what the scores look like for some of the biggest sites on the open web:

As you can see, there's a lot of data Google takes into account even outside of Core Web Vitals. Here's a quick summary of the other important metrics that Google trusts to measure page performance:

First Contentful Paint (FCP): This metric measures the time from click to the time when a user's browser renders the first bit of content from the Document Object Model (DOM), which is your site's HTML structure. According to Google, this is an important milestone for your readers because it provides signals that your page is loading.

First Meaningful Paint (FMP): This is the amount of time it takes the most important content, what Google calls "hero elements," to load on site. Hero elements are different for every site, but should be intuitive based on your content. This metric helps determine your site's usability.

Time to Interactive (TTI): This is the most important metric to keep an eye on. This is when the site is fully rendered and ready for user action. This is a critical point when slow load time can occur, usually because JavaScript or other complex content hasn't fully rendered. So, in short, think of TTI as how long it takes for your site to load in its entirety.

Total Blocking Time (TBT): TBT measures a page's load responsiveness to quantify how long a page is non-interactive prior to becoming interactive. You want your site to have a low TBT to maintain its usability.

Speed Index (SI): SI is the measurement of how quickly the contents of a page are populated. You want your speed index score to be as low as possible.

Creating quality content is only half the battle in 2020, and publishers are already burdened with the around-the-clock task of creating content that resonates. This is why quality content must be supported by modern technology that can keep up with the speed of the web. RebelMouse provides publishers with a CMS that supports the new content lifecycle with an editorial suite designed for reach on site, search, and social.

Click here to read more about our modern approach to web performance. If you want to make performance a priority, request a proposal today. We can easily transform your site into one of the fastest on the web, giving you increased user retention and better conversion rates than ever before.

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