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Facebook to marketers: It's time to buy ads

A recently obtained document purported to come from Facebook indicates that organic distribution across the social network could be hobbled.

Facebook isn't so sure organic dissemination of content across the world's largest social network will be enough for companies over the coming years, according to a recent leak.

AdAge reported on Thursday that it has obtained a copy of a sales deck Facebook sent to its marketing partners in November. According to AdAge, Facebook says in the sales deck that it expects "distribution of an individual page's posts to gradually decline over time as we continually work to make sure people have a meaningful experience on the site."

Whether the declining reach is more a revenue-generation strategy than a way to improve the user experience is decidedly up for debate. Over the last year, we've been hearing from ad agencies that standard Facebook Page posts by brands were getting less reach. At that time, Facebook said that its median reach remained the same, despite changes to the sharing algorithm.

Now, though, it appears Facebook has had a change of heart. Rather than stick to the idea that marketers can continue to grow social-media efforts organically, the company reportedly said in the sales deck that companies should consider placing ads on its service "to maximize delivery of your message in news feed."

Facebook has long tiptoed on the line between organically delivering value to advertisers and getting them to invest in ads. For a long time, brands determined that investing in ads wasn't as necessary as Facebook would have liked because of the value of organically growing a userbase to target. Although Facebook didn't say what sort of changes it has planned for its service, it sounds that the organic value over time will decline, while its own advertising efforts, and thus revenue-generation, could improve.

Facebook's revenue-generation was a cause of concern for investors last year when the company was viewed as too soft on mobile ads. The company quickly changed course and has watched its mobile-ad business soar. Some extra effort now appears to be making its way to brand advertising.