By Don Mathis, Kinetic Social CEO
Earlier this week, we began to hear more details regarding the changes Facebook has made to the Preferred Marketing Developer (PMD) program, in particular as these changes will relate to both the initial application to the PMD program as well as to the recertification process for existing badge holders.
Of all of the new requirements, I believe the first one mentioned by Zach Rodgers in an AdExchanger article will cause the most difficulty amongst the existing PMD community: “Going forward, all PMDs must demonstrate ‘the ability to advise marketers on ad spend to amplify word of mouth and ensure success of brands on the platform.’” (Read the full AdExchanger piece here).
Did everyone get that? To keep your PMD badge, you better be able to help your client understand not simply what to buy, but why they should buy it. It isn’t enough to be a smart buying platform. In fact, that’s becoming the price of admission to the game … to be an effective (preferred) marketing partner for Facebook, you better be good at providing outstanding strategic client advisory services.
Facebook is looking for partners who are able to help clients create holistic campaigns that take full advantage of the FB platform. Just arbitraging “Likes” for a cheaper price than the next guy does not equal effective campaign management or genuine brand building, and increasingly won’t cut it. That’s been true with the more sophisticated brand advertisers for a while; it is becoming true with Facebook now too.
Why should that be so hard for many of the PMDs? Because most PMDs were created as “platforms” to engage in the social media equivalent of programmatic buying. As a general rule, the PMD community has focused sharply on trying to be social trading desks and/or Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for social media buying.
There is nothing wrong with that, per se. In fact, to be an effective badge holder, a company must be very good at providing differentiated, optimized programmatic social media buying. But having a strong technical skill-set and platform which interfaces with the FB API is not enough.
The PMD community seems to operate as if they attended a big venture capital summit in 2010 or maybe early 2011. At that summit, some prominent VC made a speech along the lines of, “whatever you do, DO NOT claim to be in the media execution business. You’ll get a crappy agency-like multiple when you sell the company … instead, be a SaaS play! That’s the path to a 4-5x revenue multiple exit!”
And while I’m sure no such thing actually occurred (or if it did, we weren’t invited), the industry certainly seems to act like it. Don’t believe me? See how many times the word “Platform” is repeated on the websites or in the marketing materials of the badge holders. “Platform” has replaced “Optimization” as the ad:tech word of the year. Thankfully, the buzz phrase “Social Graph” is already starting to die.
But as I spoke about in my post last week, Facebook is the inventory aggregator in the social media ecosystem, not the publisher. Facebook’s one billion users are the publishers … and in this ecosystem, Facebook makes the buying easier – like an exchange, only better – and the role of the PMD ought to be to help the client access the FB universe effectively. Not just buying, but buying smartly to build a brand.
Bottom line: if you want to hold a PMD badge, you better be good at helping your clients grow their brands.
Don Mathis is the CEO and Co-Founder of Kinetic Social, a company launched in 2011 with a core focus of marrying “Big Data” to social media on behalf of large brand advertisers. He also serves in the active reserve of the US Navy, where he is the Commanding Officer of a highly deployable, selectively staffed, joint-service combat logistics unit that supports forward deployed war-fighters.