Back in May, during what could be considered the height of Facebook IPO criticism, GM announced it would be pulling all of its advertising from the website. The problem, according to GM, was that Facebook ads simply didn’t have enough of an impact on the brand’s potential buyers.
The news prompted the usual “Facebook ads don’t work” reaction we all knew it would, and the skeptics out there had a field day telling everyone they were right.
But it appears that GM may go crawling back, according to the Wall Street Journal. “General Motors Co. and Facebook Inc. are in talks to bring the auto maker back as a paid advertiser,” insiders say. Apparently, Facebook is willing to meet the manufacturer halfway, promising improved analytics for converting ads into revenue – although it should be noted that the company “won’t provide any special treatment for GM.”
Those who didn’t jump on the Facebook blaming bandwagon back in May instead suggested that GM just “didn’t get” Facebook advertising or social media in general. The legacy company’s advertising has been focused around TV ad spots, and the transition to engaging, more long-term content and interaction with Facebook users proved to be a difficult one – and one that the company didn’t feel good about having spent $10 million a year on.
When the original story broke, I reasoned that GM and enterprises in similar positions are right to be wary of the Facebook ad platform. It’s this new, evolving thing and the social network has been very active about evolving how advertising works, and throwing your money in with something so new is inherently risky. There will be struggle, but advertisers would push through it because Facebook and its advertising platform, for all their ups and downs and questions and lack of answers, simply cannot be ignored – that’s a much bigger risk for a company to take.
And now the lines of communication have reopened between Facebook and GM – a much larger coup symbolically than anything else. GM’s ad dollars were a tiny drop in the bucket for Facebook, but resigning the company that ignited the “Facebook ads don’t work” frenzy would certainly quiet critics.