Brushfire Brings Brand-Sponsored Charity Ads to the News Feed

Brushfire Media Group is preparing to release an application that allows users to publish ads to the news feed —  that earn money for charity when clicked. Charities distribute the ad publishing app through their email lists. Brands pay for clicks and charities gets 75% of the revenues without anyone making a donation.

It’s an interesting idea, albeit one that might not fit within Facebook’s developers policies — you’re not supposed to incentivize users to perform certain communications, as mentioned in a rule revision last week — and there’s also the question of whether users Facebook users are willing to share marketing messages with friends, even for a good cause.

When a user visits the app, they can select a charity to support, a brand to sponsor that charity, write a message asking their friends to click to earn the charity money, and publish the rich story to Facebook. The charity gets 75% of the cost of each click, paid for by the brand sponsor. Users earn points for each post which can be redeemed to donate more money to a certain charity. Depending on the clicks they drive, users also receive badges and are ranked amongst other supporters of that charity and amongst all Brushfire users. These social recognition mechanics further encourage users to post using Brushfire.

The clicks driven to sponsoring brands will likely be classified as undifferentiated network clicks, which Brushfire says it can sell for around $0.50-$2 each, though it will be offering discounts at the start as it tries to sign on brands.

Brands can use the Brushfire brand dashboard to track how many posts, Likes, comments, and clicks users are generating for them through the app. Reports on this data can be exported, and brands can see who is posting with them as a sponsor in the dashboard’s “Buzz” sidebar.

Brushfire’s founder and CEO Kyle Greenfield says “We’re going to deliver something brands are already paying for, and we’ll help them accomplish their social media objectives.” He believes brands will be eager to slot Brushfire into their current media plan at comparable rates. Currently the app is a bit bloated with incentive systems and content streams which could confuse users. If Brushfire can keep users posting branded messages to their feeds for the long-term, and focuses on making that as easy as possible, they may have found a way to let brands pay for presence on Facebook’s news feed.

The San Francisco and Buenos Aires-split eight person team includes three developers, and has secured $100,000 in funding from a friends and family round. Brushfire is now looking for a $500,000 investment from a super angel to help push the app’s beta and secure brand and charity partners.

Update: Facebook has informed us that Brushfire’s business model violates its terms of service, and won’t be allowed on the Platform. Facebook’s public relations team explained, “While we’re supportive of developers building applications that promote social causes, they must comply with platform policies. This particular application violates policies around ads in communication channels, incentivizing people to use communication channels, and including links that direct to destinations separate from where the stories originated.”