The “Paid Organification” Of Facebook: Why Facebook’s Plan Isn’t About Display Ads

The future of Facebook marketing isn’t about display ads. It’s about visibility and reach. There has been so much pre/post IPO chatter about the flawed Facebook display advertising model. It’s been mentioned that nobody clicks on ads and that ads have been ineffective.  Frankly, these folks have it wrong. Facebook is undergoing an organification movement that fellow marketer Marty Weitraub has been preaching for years now. Facebook ad units that everyone screams and yells about are fading away; paid interactions, increased reach and word of mouth advertising are coming to the forefront.

One can think about a Facebook stream as a more modern version of RSS. People use Facebook for all types of information, especially to inform. The usage numbers are staggering. In March of 2012, there were 398 million users who were on Facebook at least 6 out of 7 days and there are over 42 million pages with 10+ likes.  This audience is engaged, receptive to brands and “hooked on the ‘book.”

Facebook ads are moving away from standard ad units with set characterful numbers and images  to post/page ads, a paid inclusion model and promoted posts. The crux of future Facebook advertising is brand participation and interaction. Having a Facebook page is essential as unique advertising options are available that simply aren’t for external site targeting.

This is advertising that truly hasn’t been seen before. Unlike traditional media, Facebook is creating personalized ad opportunities that users can’t fast forward through with a DVR, flip past in a magazine or avoid seeing due to banner blindness. Facebook is intersecting the divide of natural conversation and paid placements.

Sponsored Stories

The most obvious current iteration of the paid organic model is the sponsored stories. Whether it comes as a page or post, user data is leveraged for  brand promotion. The key with Facebook is that open graph data from friends is tied into the ads, giving credibility and personalization to the message. This “sponsored stories” model allows advertisers to use real-life examples to promote their ads for an organic user experience.

Messages can show up as simply as just mentioning pages that a friend likes versus pulling in concrete examples or interactions from other user posts.  In reality advertisers are marketing the word-of-mouth interaction just as much as they are marketing their content:

Page Example:

Additionally, new targeting allows for smarter spending based around a specific action. Advertisers can target those who will most likely like a page or click on the ad:


Post Example:

Specific posts can also be naturally promoted with links, likes and comments. Posts can be targeted based on traditional ad targeting attributes as well, so showing a post to those that like a competitor, topic or fit a certain demographic.

With both of these ad types admins can target those not already connected to the page in a turely organic factor as friends and contacts are vouching for the content.

Reach Generator

One of the main points at fMC this year was the reach generator product. Reach generator is a packaged advertising solution for qualifying clients that can bump post visibility from 16% reach to fan to a 75% reach.

This product leverages sponsored stories and instead of a CPC format, one page post is promoted each day by Facebook. We contacted Facebook on reach generator and a spokesperson stated the following:

Clients qualify to use Reach Generator if they have the right level of engagement.  Since Reach Generator is based on Sponsored Stories and ads from Page posts, businesses must have enough posts and fans engaging with the Page to guarantee delivery.

So for large advertisers this is a full service paid organic marketing platform for promoting posts and content.

Promoted Posts

The newest test ad unit for Facebook, might be their most revolutionary offering for marketers. The promoted post promotion help  posts be seen by a greater percentage of one’s audience, much like a paid inclusion model. Traditionally, posts are delivered  to users based on EdgeRank which matches the most relevant, popular  content to each user. With promoted posts, you can bypass the EdgeRank algo and have their message seen to their full audience.

This is a revolutionary ad method as brands can ensure their most pertinent posts can be delivered to user streams. Most users typically only see the default-mode of Top News (rather than Recent Posts) and miss a good deal of both user and brand posts. Promoted posts will help to break through that barrier for increased visibility to people who have already “liked” a page.

Instead of buying placements that are outside of the Facebook wall, posts are instead seamlessly displayed directly to users. Promoted posts will ensure that your message is delivered along the rest of the content in a 100% natural format.

Here’s an official video on promoted posts:

YouTube Preview Image

Highlight Important Post Test

In May, tests were seen showing even more “paid organic” testing – this time for Facebook accounts, not pages. A single, one time offering was displayed to users to enhance the reach of a personal post. This could be utilized for something like a fundraiser that could have a lower-than-normal engagement normally.

Targeting users to promote their posts confirms the dedication and power of paid organic for Facebook.

In conclusion, Facebook is making a rather large shift in the overall advertising model, something that simply can’t be found elsewhere. The “I don’t click on ads” argument should soon cease while advertisers will find increased reach and visibility with a natural or word-of-mouth format.

For more information don’t miss aimClear’s article about Paid Organic as the new Black.

Some images courtesy of

Related Topics: Channel: Industry | Facebook | Facebook: Advertising | Facebook: Marketing | Facebook: Open Graph | Features & Analysis | Social Media Marketing | Top News


About The Author: is the Director of Marketing for Cypress North, a company that specializes in social media and search marketing services and web-based application development. He has been in the Internet marketing industry for 6+ years and specializes in Social Media Marketing. You can also find Greg on Twitter (@gregfinn) or LinkedIn.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn

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  • AmyG1

    Thank you for this great article! With the exception of the Promoted Posts, I have heard that the new forms of advertising are fee based with a cost of $50,000 per month. Can you confirm this?

  • seattleiguana

    Greg, why do you think sponsored posts are not ads (ads embedded in your news feed)?  Why don’t you think the analysis for ads applies to them?  Why do you think Facebook’s experience with ads in news feeds will be any different than search engines’ failed experiments with inserting paid ads into search results?  Why won’t credibility and relevance of the Facebook’s news feed drop as more sponsored posts are added?

  • Greg Finn

    Sponsored posts are ads, never said they weren’t.  I do however think that Facebook is tying in the word-of-mouth, organic feel to the ads.  Instead of just an ad for Starbucks, the ad can show activity and interaction instead of the traditional “display” ads.

  • Greg Finn

    Amy, Didn’t hear that, still rolling out though.  Will reach out and update :)

  • Miroslav

    In facebook works a lot of enough professional analysts, probably know that speak!

  • فيصل المطيري
  • Yair Spolter

    Thanks for this really informative post.
    Doesn’t promoted posts turn FB into a marketplace rather than a social network?
    When EdgeRank decided which posts I would see, the algo was looking out for ME – showing me the content that I most likely want to see. But now, I will see the posts that fetched the highest bid?

    IMO a huge step backwards for Facebook.

    What do you think?

  • repaire

    Facebook is using EdgeRank to say that some of your fans aren’t really valuable because they don’t interact with your posts, therefore you don’t show up in their newsfeed. And then they are charging you money to buy them back and try and re-advertise to them.

    Facebook is holding your fans hostage basically. Yeah, I don’t think this will be as revolutionary as you think. I think there will be a backlash once companies get tired of having to reacquire their own fans. 

  • Mark

    Great post. Very interesting to see. I usually do not read blog, but this post definitely caught my attention.

  • Christopher Regan

    Blech. Do you work for Facebook?

  • Chris Elwell

    Great piece Greg. Helpful to have a rundown of all that FB’s been rolling out.

    SNIP:  The “I don’t click on ads” argument should soon cease while advertisers will find increased reach and visibility with a natural or word-of-mouth format.

    Comment: Perhaps the comment is going to change from “No one clicks on my ads” to “this is too damn complicated.” Two things made paid search advertising successful: the targeting was bullet proof, i.e demandcast, and the product was simple so participation was widespread.

    FB looks to be throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks at this point. I wonder if advertisers will have the patience to wade through all of the options until they figure out which — if any — of these formats works.

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