Facebook’s Branded Content Creep

If you are looking for reasons why Facebook has been tinkering with the organic reach of branded content over the past several months, you needn’t look any further than this graph:

Facebook Feed 2

According to a representative sample of Americans 12+ who have profiles on Facebook, 62% perceive more branded content in their Facebook feeds today than they perceived one year ago. What’s more, 43% indicated that they believed there was “a lot more” company, brand, or product related content in their news feed. On the other side of the equation, 8% perceived “a little less” or “a lot less.”

While there have been many reasons posited for Facebook’s recent algorithm changes, certainly one reason is simply to improve user experience–after all, every brand or product post I see in a given, discrete Facebook session is a post I didn’t see from a friend or family member. What this chart indicates is that the perceived balance of content from people I know with content from brands has been shifting, and Facebook’s tinkering with the reach of brand pages may be an acknowledgement of that fact.

These data points were taken from The Infinite Dial 2014, from Edison Research and Triton Digital. The full study is available here, or on Slideshare.

How the Survey was Conducted:  A total of 2,023 persons were interviewed to investigate Americans’ use of digital platforms and new media.  From January 13 to February 12, 2014, telephone interviews were conducted with respondents age 12 and older who were selected via Random Digit Dial (RDD) sampling. The study includes a total of 808 cell phone interviews.

3 replies
  1. 40deuce
    40deuce says:

    Hey Tom,

    Interesting stuff (as usual), but I have a question that wasn’t made clear here or in the presentation:
    What exactly counts as branded content?

    I ask, because I see a significant more amount of this content, but not from brands that I’ve actually wanted to see content from. I see a lot of sponsored posts going through my Facebook newsfeed or stuff from brands that my friends “like,” but significantly less from those brands that I’ve actually asked to see stuff from.
    Just curious.

    • Tom Webster
      Tom Webster says:

      The exact question we asked is in the subheading of the slide, but I take your point–it is getting harder to tell the difference. But that’s why we asked the question the way we did–in the end, to a user, it doesn’t really matter. Thanks, Sheldon!

  2. Rob Clark
    Rob Clark says:

    I’ll also point out that there’s no indication of ‘sponsored’ vs Liked in this research. I know from my own experience that at least half (if not more) of the branded content that flits through my newsfeed is not from a page I visited and liked but some random brand trying to catch my notice through paid content.


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