It’s been just over six months since Facebook created the Preferred Marketing Developer program, which certifies developers with badges in up to four areas: ads, apps, pages and insights.
In that time, Facebook has introduced a host of new ad types and page products — mobile app install ads, custom audience targeting, sponsored results, FBX, offers, advanced post targeting, tiered admin access and more. PMDs have merged, been acquired and raised significant funding. The landscape is more complicated and more competitive than ever.
But while marketers are growing increasingly sophisticated and turning to PMDs for solutions, many of the frustrations that developers have had for years remain. Facebook moves fast; APIs are unreliable; there’s not enough support. Then there’s the surprise new Strategic Preferred Marketing Developer classification, which gives 12 companies access to alpha and beta products, as well as more support from Facebook’s business, product and engineering teams. sPMD companies will also serve on Facebook’s new PMD Executive Council.
We spoke with Facebook’s PMD Program Manager John Yi to get a sense of where Facebook sees the program now, how it’s growing and what the sPMD label is all about.
The first thing Yi tells us is that the PMD program, like everything at Facebook, is a work in progress.
“We’re closer to the beginning of this than the end,” he says.
Facebook’s goal with the PMD badges was to introduce some structure and classify developers by discipline but also to show how ads, apps, pages and insights are connected. The most successful marketing efforts on Facebook will touch on all four areas, and over the past six to eight months we’ve seen PMDs building technology and forging partnerships to make this easier. These include layering the ads and insights APIs to identify potential candidates for page post ads, or apps and ads companies working together to create custom Open Graph Sponsored Stories.
Internally, Facebook has reorganized to bring relevant teams together and better serve marketers and PMDs. VP of Global Partnerships Blake Chandlee, who led the agency relations team, now oversees the PMD program as well, so that people who manage relationships with technology and service providers are both under the same branch. The PMD team also works closely with the Facebook product marketing team, which has recently reorganized by verticals. This allows client partners and PMD managers to connect about what different marketers need.
One issue that’s been identified is how brands and agencies find vendors. Facebook is looking to replace the current PMD directory this month with a PMD Center including more information, case studies and options to contact companies and submit RFPs through the system. Similar to the App Center, the new PMD Center will include a ranking algorithm to surface personalized results and help match marketers with the appropriate PMDs. Facebook also recently hired a sales liaison to help the internal sales team understand the capabilities of each PMD so representatives can connect brands and agencies with the right vendors. The company has other open positions for a PMD business development manager, a marketing communications manager and a few partner managers.
Still, Facebook maintains a “very, very lean team,” as Yi says, and there aren’t enough partner managers to provide one-on-one support for more than 300 developers. Even if there’s demand from PMDs, that’s not necessarily enough for Facebook to devote more resources to the program. The data-driven company instead looks at product adoption in the marketplace, as well as activity and engagement with PMD solutions. For example, how often are marketers using page management tools to make posts and how are those posts received by fans? And though Yi didn’t say it, the amount of revenue PMDs drive through ads would be another major factor.
“I’ve been pleased that the company has invested in the program and that we’re getting additional resources,” Yi says. “Of course, wanting the program to succeed, I’ll always want more, but we’re in a pretty good spot where we’re able to hire out and get to the next step. And of course we’ll have to show impact there, and perhaps we’ll re-evaluate in another six months or so.”
Developers seem pleased that Facebook is building out its team, but they wonder whether it will make a difference when there are so many developers in the program. Is the PMD list too big?