There's been a rumor for a few months that Facebook might start phasing out affiliate marketers who promote dating ads.
It looks as if they're finally started taking action.
If you try to submit a dating ad on Facebook, you might get a rejection saying:
"Reason(s): It looks like you submitted an ad for a dating service through one of our self-service advertising tools.
Unfortunately, ads for dating sites and apps are only allowed from approved advertisers at this time.
If you've read the guidelines in the Help Center and think your ad follows the rules and should have been approved, please let us know.
If you'd like to advertise your dating service on Facebook, please follow this link to learn more.
If you would like to become an approved advertiser, an application form may be available from February 15, 2014. If you have any questions about this policy or feel that your ad is compliant and was incorrectly disapproved, please contact us."
Not only are dating ads going to be rejected, but anyone caught running them will get their accounts banned.
Starting now the only people allowed to promote Dating ads on Facebook are white listed advertisers and the affiliates that the advertisers have approved. For example: Match.com gets approved to advertise. They want their top 3 affiliates Bob, Steve, and Sharkeisha to promote on Facebook. Match.com will submit their Facebook account ID's to get whitelisted.
Anytime these 3 submit an ad, their account will be labeled as "approved for dating ads".
However, Match will be held accountable for these affiliates as well. If Bob gets caught submitting titty images, he puts the advertiser's account at risk as well. It's in the best interest of the advertiser to only allow the affiliates that they truly trust.
Why would Facebook do this?
The ads were getting too risque (cleavage, half naked pics) and hurting the user experience. According to my source, dating ads were getting reported at three times the rate of any other niche. Not only were the ads bad, but some guys were actually sending users to casual dating offers (sex sites).
What Facebook Wants Dating Advertisers to use
What affiliates were actually using
Facebook's all about a high click-through rate and it was pretty much a race to see who could get the most scandalous ads through .
With every situation, there are winners and losers. Here's a quick analysis:
Mainstream Dating Advertisers - Less competition to deal with. They will also have better branding now since dirty images aren't allowed.
Facebook - This will improve the overall experience for users.
PlentyofFish - If you want to promote mainstream dating now, PlentyofFish is one of the few viable choices left. I'm sure there will be a surge of affiliates signing up soon.
White-listed affiliates - Facebook is still allowing certain affiliates to promote on the platform. These guys will have the advantage of an even higher barriers to entry for their competitors.
Facebook affiliates in general - There's plenty of other niches to make money on such as gaming. Click costs will go down since you don't have to compete against boob ads.
Affiliate Networks - Most networks have dating as a part of their portfolio and revenues will definitely go down. However I don't think it'll be that drastic since most networks are diverse with adult and other niches.
Newbie Affiliates - Many guys had their first profitable campaign through Facebook Dating. eHarmony in Australia was actually my 2nd ever profitable campaign back in 2008. This change takes away one of the tried and true ways for a newbie to break into the game.
Adult Advertisers - Facebook traffic's always been higher quality than porntube traffic since affiliates could filter out the audience by age.
Facebook Dating Affiliates - The best route is to try and get another vertical working, or see if you can get whitelisted by an advertiser.
Affiliate Marketing is Dead?
Overall I don't see this affecting the industry too much.
Facebook's been a pain in the ass in 2013 as far as banning accounts and retro-disapproving ads, and they're going to keep making things worse for affiliates. If Zuckerberg had his way then Facebook would have no affiliates, and the only advertisers would be big brands / local mom and pop shops.
Can you really blame them? The nature of being an affiliate is to push the edge. Every CTR and conversion increase means more money in our pockets. When we're all competing against each other, then some of us are going to cross the line.
Affiliate marketing is survival of the fittest at its best - the smart ones will find a way to adapt.
P.S. Don't ask or comment on how to bypass the new rules because some members of the Facebook ads team read this blog. Play it smart.