In the wake of new Community Standards related to political advertisements and content, Facebook has delivered yet another blow to publishers and advertisers who once again find themselves struggling to maintain engagement on the world's biggest social platform.
While many publishers and brands have built massive followings with advertising for which Facebook happily accepted their money, or communities they've cultivated well within the rules, Facebook is effectively pulling the rug out from under their strategies, forcing publishers and their sponsors to find new sources of audience acquisition and monetization. In fact, the platform has gone so far as to require mainstream news outlets to register as political advertisers simply to get their content through. Even recent trailers promoting a new Showtime documentary series that profiles New York Times journalists covering the White House has been flagged as political, prompting Facebook's content policy team to pull the ads pending further verification.
All of this comes as the social network attempts to beat back fake news and election meddling, which evidence now shows the company knew about on its platform long before acknowledging its complacency. In an effort to backpedal, the company is adding thousands of new content screeners, but still maintains nebulous rules about what constitutes acceptable content. That means more content getting flagged based on a judgment call, which leaves some publishers and their advertisers continuously having to justify or defend benign content to keep it from getting pulled from the News Feed.
Amid all of this turmoil, publishers and brands that can no longer rely on Facebook's massive audience for acquisition, engagement and monetization are scrambling for alternative channels to get their messages through with less friction but equal effectiveness.
Enter: email. This tried-and-true medium, which some had written off as "dead" is in fact having a renaissance, becoming one of the most effective channels for sales and revenue generation.
What makes email such an attractive alternative to Facebook?
1. Email is publisher owned and controlled.
Unlike Facebook, which owns and dictates all of the content posted or shared on its pages, email is entirely controlled by the publisher distributing the content. That means neither the general public nor a team of content screeners can impose their will on your content. Publishers are free to sell in-email ads to any advertisers they please and that fit their audience's expectations for relevancy. And, they can control the content distribution, timing and linkbacks to ensure they get the traffic they desire.
2. Email is impervious to ad blockers and privacy extensions.
3. Email is trusted by subscribers.
Email users guard their addresses vehemently to avoid spam. Therefore, when they've opted-in to receive content from publishers they trust, audiences are generally more engaged with the content because it speaks to their interests. And, because audiences trust the publisher, their trust is transferred by proxy to the brands featured within email ads, increasing the likelihood they'll click through and generate traffic for advertisers.
4. Email is more targeted and relevant.
Facebook relies on algorithms that prioritize what's popular to determine what shows up in users' News Feed, regardless of whether it's relevant to the individual user. As a result, audiences may never see content that would be relevant for them, or they may be annoyed by an abundance of content that's not. Email gives publishers the ability to hone in on exactly what subscribers like and want to see, based on their past click behavior. And, because a single email address is rarely ever shared by more than one user, while Facebook accounts sometimes are (a husband and wife, for example), targeting through email is much more precise.
Because email gives publishers and brands more control, fewer restrictions and better targeting, it provides a more effective and dependable solution for audience engagement and monetization. By owning the platform, distribution and advertiser relationships, publishers have a much more reliable way of delivering the most relevant content and ads to their subscribers, thus putting brands in direct content with their most valuable audiences, without being at the mercy of third-party overlords