Facebook has closed its Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program to new applicants for now as it sets updated requirements. reflecting its focus on driving paid advertising along with “free” media like brand pages and apps on the site.
The social network said the move was prompted in part by the volume of new applications. The program helps marketers find qualified experts to manage their presence and run ad campaigns on Facebook.
Business Insider on Wednesday reported that Facebook had halted the PMD program as the company institutes a new application process that would involve a referral system and establish badge criteria emphasizing expertise in paid as well as earned and owned media strategies.
“Please note that if you do not buy ads or sponsored stories on behalf of your clients, you will need to show us that you have the ability to pitch a Facebook holistic strategy and influence your clients on media spend,” read one email sent to a developer by Facebook, cited in the BI article.
In a statement issued in response to the story, Facebook said there is no requirement that PMDs run ads. “What we are working on, just as we do for brands and agencies, is ensuring that the PMD ecosystem is comprehensive in its knowledge of the entire Facebook marketing platform versus a smaller subset,” the company said.
“The intrinsic link between paid, earned, and owned media on Facebook means that PMDs must have a deep knowledge and understanding across all of those areas to ensure marketer success.”
Given Facebook’s aggressive efforts to monetize the social network since going public, it’s not surprising the company would focus more on applicant’s experience with running ads on the site. Facebook assigns badges according to qualification in four areas: Pages, Ads, Apps, and Insights. Some developers overlap these categories.
Based on the revised criteria, Inside Facebook suggested that a company that just provides analytics tools might not be accepted into the program. The blog noted that Facebook has already rankled its more than 300 DMPs by elevating a dozen in September to the status of Strategic Preferred Marketing Developers. This elite group gets access to alpha and beta products as well as receiving more support and in-depth training from Facebook. Those chosen were all top ad partners.
Facebook confirmed that the updated PMD application process and requirements will take effect in the next few weeks, after which it will ask new developers to reapply for the program.
Mark Cooper, CMO and co-founder of Facebook PMD Offerpop, said Facebook’s focus on partners’ ad know-how is consistent with its broader ad push in the last year. “I think they’re looking at ways platform partners like us can play a role not just in the ecosystem, but on the side of championing [Facebook] as an ad platform,” he said.
Offerpop, which provides a marketing self-service platform for Facebook and Twitter campaigns, so far has a badge for Apps. Does it feel more pressure now to get one for Ads as well? “I think we need to get more clarity on what that means,” said Cooper. “I think Facebook wants to make sure that whatever vendors are doing, it can be used very easily to help drive the ad side.”
By helping companies increasingly to target paid ad options like sponsored stories, he believes Offerpop is in line with the social network’s ad objectives. “But we’ll find out what the new criteria is, and what we need to do to make sure we deliver on that criteria.”