Facebook updated its policies to allow certain types of branded content on the social network.

Facebook Inc. today updated its policies to enable retailers and brands to work with media companies, celebrities and other influencers to place branded content on Facebook. The policy requires brands to clearly disclose content that’s  sponsored or provided by a third party.

The move aims to bring transparency to the platform so that if, for example, a celebrity like Lady Gaga posts about Intel it is clear to Facebook users that she’s being paid for the endorsement.

Along with the policy update, Facebook rolled out a branded content tag that lets publishers and influencers tag a marketer in a branded content post. Once a publisher or influencer tags a brand, that brand can access Facebook metrics including how many consumers saw the post and how many interacted with it, by clicking the Like button or a Reactions emoticon. The brand can also pay to promote the post so that more consumers see it.

While branded content is not new, Facebook is reacting to the changing ways that retailers and brands use it, the social network says.

“Branded content was one of the first forms of television marketing, when soap operas were created and sponsored by brands in the 1930s,” Clare Rubin, Facebook product manager, and Nick Grudin, vice president of partnerships, write in a blog post. “It evolved to product placement and sponsorships across TV and radio, and now includes digital editorial content that highlights a marketer’s product or service.”


Facebook defines branded content as any post—including text, photos, videos, Instant Articles, links, 360 videos and Live videos—from media companies, celebrities or other influencers that specifically mention or feature another company’s product, brand or sponsor. While the new policy gives retailers far more leeway to pay celebrities, influencers and publishers to promote their products, it continues to prohibit certain types of content that Facebook considers “overly promotional.” For instance, a retailer can’t pay to have a celebrity or influencer use persistent watermarks—which is a see-through logo that appears on an image or video—or pre-roll ads—which are videos that appear before another video—they also can’t pay to have products or brands featured in an influencer’s profile or cover photos.

The updated policies reflect changes that media companies, public figures, influencers and marketers have been asking for, Facebook says, as branded content has become a more important part of their businesses. “We know that many of our partners have existing partnership deals with marketers, and this update gives them the ability to extend their branded content business onto Facebook,” write Rubin and Grudin.

Mark Fidelman, managing partner at digital marketing firm Evolve Inc., believes Facebook’s latest move is “smart” and “bold” and could help bolster Facebook’s live video streaming tool Facebook Live. “Facebook Live will make it easier for influencers to reach their audiences in real time and because the videos can be saved, allow snippets of those videos to be used for marketing purposes,” he says.