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Last week, Facebook unveiled its biggest news feed algorithm change to date, favoring content from friends and family over posts from companies. But while publishers are panicked by the loss of Facebook’s referral traffic, media buyers think brands will be relatively unscathed by the algorithm change.
For starters, brands have treated Facebook like a pay-to-play platform for a long time, and Facebook said the new algorithm won’t affect paid posts on the platform, although CPM rates for Facebook ads may eventually increase, according to agency executives. However, they think the new Facebook algorithm will filter out clickbait-style promotions (“Like our product if you think this dog is cute”), which will pressure brands to create more meaningful content over the long term.
Brands already know that they get little visibility from unpaid content on Facebook, said Brittany Richter, head of social media for iProspect. Most brand content on Facebook is in the form of posts that don’t necessarily show up on a company page and are distributed through ad filters, and ad ranking won’t change under the new algorithm.
Organic content doesn’t work as well as paid posts on Facebook, but Mike Dossett, vp of digital strategy for RPA, thinks many brands still use it to communicate with their fans. “Losses here could impact if and how brands continue to invest in organic, non-boosted content within their overall content strategy,” he said.
Steve Buors, CEO and co-founder for digital marketing agency Reshift Media, believes Facebook’s new algorithm will push brands to think less about what the company’s point of view and focus more on what their audience cares about, which will create opportunities for advertisers.
“Facebook is forcing people to create quality and relevant content,” said Buors. “Social was a means to one-on-one communications, but over time, people were becoming lazy. Those changes won’t impact brands that purchase quality content, but will hit those who chase viral, meme-like posts.”
Buors thinks brands can also surprise and delight offline — a pizzeria can give each consumer a free soda, for instance — to encourage people to share their experience online. Or in a Facebook post, a brand can ask questions like, “What feature do you think we need to add to our product?” to generate interaction and debate, he said.
It’s unclear if Facebook’s new algorithm will deprioritize Facebook Live. If it doesn’t, brands could use it to get into the news feed, Buors and Richter said. (Facebook was not available to comment at press time.)
Agency executives say it’s too early to determine the effect Facebook’s algorithm change will have on paid media. But James Douglas, svp and executive director of social media for Society, said CPM and cost-per-click rates for Facebook ads will likely increase because inventory on the platform will probably decline if publishers take a hit. Facebook CPMs vary based on ad formats and targeting parameters, but they can range from $1 to $15, according to Douglas.
“We will keep an eye on Instagram if we need to move clients’ [Facebook] ad budget around,” said Douglas. “We will also look at other alternatives like Snapchat.”