What does the Facebook Marketing Partners change mean for the marketing ecosystem?

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Much like its advertising offerings, Facebook recently put an objective-based spin on its marketing platform, formerly known as Facebook Preferred Marketing Developers. Now these companies, which offer advertising and marketing services to brands and businesses, are known as Facebook Marketing Partners and are divided based on what objective they specialize in, such as ad technology, media buying, small business solutions and content marketing.

So what does this shift mean for the companies, as well as their clients? We spoke with Lance Neuhauser, CEO of Facebook Marketing Partner 4C, about Facebook’s decision.

Inside Facebook: What was your first reaction to the change?

Lance Neuhauser: We heard a while ago that the program would be changing. They just announced what some of those changes would look like. We’re really excited, both for Facebook and the entire ecosystem. For Facebook, we really do believe that they have done a good job in creating an ecosystem of partners who can deliver value-added services on top of whatever Facebook already does, by advancing technology, by providing better content, by providing marketing expertise, etc.

The issue with the program was indeed that it became very hard, on one hand, to differentiate, and on a second hand, there were very rapid changes taking place. The API itself on Facebook could get stronger. The way it was set up wasn’t necessarily encouraging as much innovation as it possibly could have. To use Facebook’s analogy, they created their own ecosystem where there were all little kids playing soccer and all chasing the ball around. Not everyone was spreading out and finding new opportunities.

We’re excited that they’re doing this, as we at 4C have had the chance to be differentiated and find green fields, if you will, for quite a bit of time. We are also cautiously optimistic because whenever they say they’re going to do something is different from actually seeing it, but we believe that Facebook will live up to the expectations.

IF: What do you feel is the biggest change that will happen with this new program?

LN: I think it’s going to do a few things. I think the ecosystem is going to get bigger. You’re going to find a lot more room for pure agencies and pure content players to get in what’s now known as the Facebook Marketing Partnership program. That’s a good thing. The other massive set of changes, is that Facebook is going to dedicate many more resources to understanding the differentiation points that come from each of these partners. They may do a better job of matching solutions to requirements from their partners to their clients.

There’s been a little bit of lack of transparency as to who does what at an excellent level. With Facebook starting to get behind these sub-badges and really taking the time to learn who excels in each of these different areas, I think what you’re going to end up seeing is the cream rising to the top. Only those who are going to be excellent at real solutions are going to find themselves having great success with clients.

The other part that came out, not to be overlooked, is Facebook is going to continue to dedicate resources into their own platform. If they’re going to survive in the partner ecosystem, you have to add value. No longer is it OK to just serve ads. No longer is it OK to just send out content that doesn’t resonate with consumers. They’re really trying to put their money where their mouth is, which is this is a user-first platform and I think this construct for the Marketing Partner program is a step in the right direction.

IF: What will change for the clients of these Facebook Marketing Partners? What will they need to know?

LN: I think what’s most important is the clients can dig in and align with what their objectives are. There’s a tremendous amount of overlap. Some marketers use (Facebook) for awareness. Some use it to get traction around specific pieces of content. Some need heavy, heavy optimization just because of the sheer volume of their campaigns. We got into this game so far down the path, before everyone really knew what to make of it. They’re just like, holy cow, look at the traction Facebook has made with the audience, and they’ve got so many users.

Facebook said this, they didn’t really promote what this marketing ecosystem is or was or how to take advantage of it. Now we get to go out with the sort of messaging like, “What are your goals? What are your objectives? What’s most important to you?”

IF: It seems like Facebook, especially with how they’ve changed the ad platform, is moving to a totally objective-based format. Is this a continuation of that trend?

LN: The lines continue to blur between content and advertising, yet the ways in which we take advantage of this outstanding audience continues to fragment. We have to be able to have specialists in solutions who still drive to this overall audience, but do so in a way that provides excellence. You’re calling out something important. You don’t want to see the partner program look drastically different than the way Facebook is going to market (advertising). They’re aligning all the way from the top.

Readers: What do you think of the Facebook Marketing Partners platform?