pmd badge facebookFacebook is a key part of social media presence for businesses large and small. With over one billion people using the service, it would be silly to not have a presence with Facebook. The company has been running a successful program to help improve its pages and services for a few years. It’s called the Preferred Marketing Developer Program. Although, some interesting changes are coming very soon to this program.

PMD Badges

In the Preferred Marketing Developer Program (PMDP), Facebook has offered a Badge for “developers that have demonstrated value-added capabilities in … Pages, Ads, Apps, [or] Insights.” Access to the Facebook API by these developers has helped agencies and advertisers improve their pages, improve ads, and generally create a better presence on Facebook for businesses, so users can have a better experience and businesses get more for their money.

But a note in bold on the badge site states that “applications for the PMD Program are closed for the moment.” What’s Facebook doing?

Buy Ads, or Else!

An exclusive story on Business Insider by Jim Edwards is the first and only place I’ve found this story reported. Facebook has stopped (for now) enrollment in its Preferred Marketing Developers badge program to make some interesting changes.

According to Jim, “if you want to play with Facebook, you must now pay for the privilege – in the form of ads.” This means that Facebook is now shifting the PMDP and all its benefits to focus on those who pay to play. Jim writes that the new implementation of the PMDP and the badge system will “require advertisers and their agencies to buy paid media on Facebook” to qualify for acceptance into the program.

What Is Lost

This program had, for a while, been used to help advertisers who wanted to explore the possibility of a presence on Facebook. Additionally, it was a chance for advertisers to experiment with Facebook’s capabilities as a social network. Furthermore, the program was “open to companies that only wanted Facebook’s free pages for companies” and to those agencies and companies that offered analytics service to clients, both those who bought ads and those who did not.

So now it looks as if this relationship will be changing. From a distance it looks as if Facebook is trying to bring in more revenue at the expense of openness. This is fairly relevant given the fact that in the month of February as Benjamin Pimentel writes at Marketwatch, “Facebook shares have shed nearly 12%” so far.

I’m not sure how much this will affect businesses on the surface, as most of these changes are under-the-radar for many users. I do think the move makes sense if Facebook stands by the effectiveness of its ads; this is a clever way to gently force more businesses and agencies into buying their ads, so they can see for themselves that they work. At least, that’s what it looks like Facebook is doing.

What do you think about the changes to the PMDP badge system and the focus on paying for privilege?