Facebook is changing the rules for admittance to its PMD badge program to focus more tightly on paid media. In an email to prospective PMD partners published on Business Insider, it tells applicants they'll need to prove their knowledge of its ad products and their ability to "influence your clients on media spend."
Facebook has stopped accepting new badge applications while it reshapes the PMD requirements and works its way through a glut of badge requests. The company expects to open up the program again in about two weeks, albeit with a significantly higher bar. In a sentence that proves just how human-centric the PMD vetting process has become, badge seekers are advised they'll need an internal referral at Facebook. "Please make sure somebody at Facebook you have worked with is willing to vouch for you," the email says.
The new entry rules around paid media, and the referral requirement, raise a number of questions:
- How will Facebook evaluate prospective PMDs' knowledge of paid media and their ability to sway client media spend?
- Will advertisers become suspicious of their preferred PMD vendors based on this requirement, and will trusted relationships be jeopardized as a result?
- Does this put existing PMDs (Facebook has 260-plus) on thin ice if they don't drive significant spend? Or is it only about incoming PMDs?
- Will we see considerably fewer companies entering the PMD program going forward?
Facebook insists there is no specific requirement for PMDs to place ads directly on behalf of marketers. It shared this statement:
"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 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."
For example, it says, many PMDs don't plug directly into Facebook's paid media products, but partner with other PMDs to funnel ad demand to Facebook. Such an arrangement would be acceptable, says a representative. So far so innocuous.
But what about a PMD focused on organic presence (Pages badge) or social analytics (Insights badge) that works with small to mid-sized clients, or with larger clients that it does not explicitly advise clients on paid media? The implications here are less clear, and based on Facebook's early communications around the change, it would appear these questions are still being discussed internally.
The impact could also be large for vendors primarily focused on organic content – especially those not yet granted admittance to the program. It's not clear whether key existing PMDs that don't traffic lots of ads, such as Dachis Group and Oracle Social, could be affected.
Rob Leathern is CEO of Optimal Social, which holds the Insights and Ads API bades. He says,
"Facebook can and should prioritize partnerships that drive engagement with their platform and ads revenue; and it doesn't look like they're favoring one to the exclusion of the other, but they might be emphasizing the importance of being a revenue contributor in their ecosystem."