Facebook Cuts Off Reach Generator

Attention turns to more flexible Promoted Posts

As autumn approaches, Facebook is pruning its offerings to advertisers. While the company recently rolled out the ability for advertisers to target customers in their CRM databases, it is cutting off the ability for big brands to make sure a page post hits a majority of their fans through the Reach Generator tool. Inside Facebook first reported on Thursday that Facebook would be sunsetting Reach Generator, and a Facebook spokesperson confirmed the plans today.

“We are simplifying our offerings for advertisers, who can now achieve reach goals through Promoted Posts, a recently launched product which gives businesses the increased flexibility to hand-select and boost posts in the News Feed,” said a Facebook spokesperson.

Facebook debuted Reach Generator during the Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) in February. The product was attractive because Facebook said during fMC that its users on average only see 16 percent of the content in their News Feeds, whereas Reach Generator promised a brand’s post would extend to at least 50 percent of its fans in a week and 75 percent within a month. But Facebook likely encountered struggles in selling advertisers on the product. Reach Generator is available at a fixed price based on number of fans, giving advertisers little flexibility in what posts should be promoted to which of their fans.

“We definitely had a bunch of clients who’d been pitched on it by Facebook’s folks, and it didn’t seem like it got a ton of traction,” said Rob Leathern, CEO of social ad firm Optimal, calling Reach Generator a “big commitment” that asks advertisers to put “a lot of eggs in an expensive basket.”

In Reach Generator’s absence, big brands can turn to Promoted Posts, a similar product made available to small- and medium-sized advertisers in the summer. Promoted Posts allowed companies to extend the reach of their page posts but on a per-post basis. When a brand creates a page post, they have the option to pay to promote it as well, with pricing proportionate to the number of fans the advertiser would like to ensure they reach. Initially Promoted Posts was only available to advertisers with at least 400 but no more than 100,000 fans, but Facebook recently opened it up to those with more than 100,000 fans.

Promoted Posts may share Reach Generator’s scaling abilities, but it actually offers advertisers better targeting because it follows the organic posts targeting criteria. So if an advertiser creates a post aimed at a subgroup of its fans, such as women or those in a certain age group, they can use Promoted Posts to make sure the message gets to more of that subgroup without spamming fans less likely to be interested in its content.

Promoted Posts is only available through Facebook’s self-serve ad platform, so an advertiser like Coca-Cola would have to set its own promoted posts. But Facebook ad partners like Optimal and TBG Digital that buy ads on advertisers’ behalf have created workarounds. For example, Optimal works with social media marketing software company Vitrue so that when marketers create their organic Facebook posts within Vitrue’s platform, they can also opt to promote that post. Whether or not Facebook will open up Promoted Posts so that its ad partners don’t need to create such a workaround remains to be seen, but TBG Digital CEO Simon Mansell said at the least Reach Generator’s demise means one less product Facebook’s sales team need to pitch advertisers on.

“I think its makes sense to let the ecosystem that’s around Facebook sell ads (like Promoted Posts) and allow their sales team to be more 'consultants' and help brands build experiences which make sense for social,” Mansell said in an email. “If people build good stuff, which inspires, informs and entertains and Facebook help brands to measure the affect of this on their businesses they will make more money than having their sales people trying to sell a specific product like Reach Generator.”