Facebook removes 4 agencies from Marketing Partners program with media buying badge elimination

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Facebook is returning its Marketing Partners (née Preferred Marketing Developers) program to its roots as a roster of advertising and marketing technology providers and putting some agencies that had been part of the program at a further remove.

Facebook plans to eliminate the “media buying” speciality from its Marketing Partners program that grants a Good Housekeeping-style seal of approval to various companies that help brands buy ads and manage their accounts on Facebook and Instagram, the company announced on Monday. The elimination of the media buying badge, which was introduced in an October 2014 revamp of the program and only available to U.S.-based companies, will take effect on December 31.

The decision to terminate the media buying badge results in the removal of all agencies from Facebook’s Marketing Partners program. Of the 12 companies that had been awarded the media buying badge, four were agencies: Dentsu Aegis Network’s 360i and iProspect, Publicis Groupe’s MediaVest and Omnicom Media Group’s Resolution Media. And those four agencies were the only companies that had not been granted badges in other specialities, which would keep them in the Marketing Partners program and in closer contact with Facebook.

Representatives for iProspect and 360i declined to comment on Facebook’s move. Representatives for MediaVest and Resolution Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment sent on Monday.

In a blog post announcing the change, Facebook said the move would have the effect of “focusing the program on partners building on our API,” referring to tech firms that use Facebook-provided methods to create automated tools for brands to buy, target and measure ads, manage their Facebook and Instagram accounts.

While Facebook had initially created the media buying specialty to highlight service-oriented companies like agencies, the social network has now decided to highlight individual employees at those companies instead, according to a Facebook spokesperson who declined to make an executive available for an interview.

Instead of awarding company-wide Marketing Partner badges for media buying, Facebook is pushing individual media buyers at agencies and other firms to apply for Blueprint Certification certificates, which Facebook began offering in March 2015Media buyers at agencies that had been Marketing Partners will not be automatically granted Blueprint certificates, the spokesperson said.

The consequence of the switch from Marketing Partner badges to Blueprint certificates for media buyers is more than cosmetic. In addition to the different honorifics, Marketing Partners are given more regular access to information about Facebook’s products and can be recommended to potential customers by Facebook employees, whereas Blueprint certificate recipients are not given as much access, according to the Facebook spokesperson.