How GM Wanted to Advertise More, Not Less, on Facebook

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ADOTAS – When GM announced it intended to pull its $10 million Facebook advertising budget, industry experts and total novices alike sputtered in disbelief. Sure, there’s no consensus about how to measure ROI in social media. Sure, Facebook’s display ads just look clunky when we even look at the right column of the page while we’re on the network, and there’s much debate over the ultimate value of the kind of word-of-mouth marketing sponsored stories allow. Sure, not every company knows how to make content that users can and easily share and want to share. But more often than not, people tended to agree that Facebook’s marketing potential was worth playing with, and the idea of GM’s pulling out altogether was a mark of colossally not getting it. How could a brand so prominent, and so eager to polish its image, fail to see the merits of advertising on Facebook?

As it turns out, the automaker did recognize the merits. In fact, it wanted to advertise more — to advertise to a degree Facebook didn’t even want. As AdAge reported yesterday, GM didn’t want sponsored posts or standard Facebook display ads. GM wanted to run a page takeover. And that’s just not Facebook’s style.

Around the time GM announced it was pulling its ad dollars from Facebook, some speculated that the relatively small percentage of ad spending at stake — GM spent a total of $1.8 billion on advertising last year — suggested there was some kind of subtext to its statement. With the news in mind about what reportedly went on backstage between the two companies in discussing marketing strategies, that seems to explain a few things. Then again, arguably, it still shows GM is missing part of the point — once a person logs into Facebook, the thing that keeps him or her logged in is the act of sharing content, and that’s a kind of interaction you don’t get, on that scale, anywhere else on the internet. And if a brand is not interested in taking part in that kind of dialogue… well, maybe it’s simply in the wrong place.

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