Changes to Google’s search engine algorithms – which then change the way the world finds your content – are the stuff of urban legends. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) has been the holy grail of companies and publishers for years, as they hope to leverage the power of search to deliver content into the hands of their target audience.

Now major algorithm tweaks are coming to Facebook. Over the past several months, it has been reported that Facebook is taking steps to reduce the “organic” reach of pages. That is, it is not as likely as it used to be that your posts will show up in the news feed of others. One recent study found that companies’ posts dropped from reaching 12% of their followers in October to just 6% by February.

Facebook has brought other major changes to its platform – and therefore to the way the world consumes information. They are set to roll out Instant Articles, through which Facebook will publish content from major outlets like the New York Times, National Geographic and BuzzFeed rather than link back to those brands’ sites. This means that Facebook becomes the publisher. Facebook has also rolled out its own video platform, Anthology, in which companies are matched with professional (think Disney and Vox) video production teams who will create high quality ads to run on Facebook. This move takes a major bite out of competitors’ video hosting sites and also ups the game for advertisers.

Changes such as these signal a large shift away from the open web, and will soon enough have a major impact on the spontaneous – and unpaid – rate at which companies’ information spreads across the internet. But will this be as bad as it sounds?

Better Algorithms are also Working in Companies’ Favor
The idea that the spontaneous spread of information is over and that the new model will be pay-to-play can feel profoundly unsettling. But consider the time your company has spent trying to identify its audience and figure out where they are assembled (are they reading posts on LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+?). Then, after all the sleuthing and ROI tracking, you may still not feel confident that your message is reaching its target.

Enter the new content distributing platforms. B2C examples like Keywee employ algorithms that analyze company-produced text and then match it with online channels and conversations where it will be best received. Imagine having your marketing content strategically placed on sites such as Facebook and Reddit, finding audiences who fit with your company’s user profile and who are likely to engage.

If these services deliver as promised, they may be well worth their fee. By leveraging the power of data and programming algorithms, marketing campaigns will become more targeted than is possible when relying simply upon an individual’s research and intuition.