Just days before the big Facebook IPO, the company was hit with a rather embarrassing blow from another well-known American company. General Motors announced that they were yanking all of their paid ads from Facebook, saying that they weren't sure about their effectiveness and how they fit into future marketing strategies.
Read: Facebook ads don't really work and we're getting the hell out.
That's the takeaway that many took from the move, and it promoted an intensification of a long-standing conversation about Facebook's monetization strategy.
A few days later, we learned that the big ad pull may have been a more innocuous than previously thought. We learned that GM was making big advertising decisions apart from how they marketed on Facebook (like sitting out the Super Bowl next year). We also heard that Facebook even encouraged GM to utilize the free promotion that comes from promoting a page and content on their site.
No hard feelings, then. Right? GM insisted that the big pull right before the IPO was purely coincidental. A Ford exec tweeted that Facebook ads were effective, and it's actually just about content, innovation, and execution. Amidst the arguing over the efficacy of Facebook ads, Facebook itself was suffering a pretty rotten couple of weeks on the market and thinking about new strategies to marketing their platform as a premier place to buy ad space.
A day before the IPO a marketing analyst for Gartner told us that, "Facebook very frequently updates its formats and releases new products, so it will have another chance to pitch to GM.”
And according to The Wall Street Journal, that's exactly what's happening right now. They say that Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has spoken to GM CEO Daniel Akerson about the automaker coming back to big blue.
Also, from the WSJ:
[GM Global Marketing Chief Joel] Ewanick and Carolyn Everson, Facebook's global sales head, met for the first time since the blowup at a June event in Cannes, France, a person familiar with the meeting said. Ms. Everson said Facebook is willing to provide GM with better data on how their ads can turn into dollars, as it has agreed to do with other advertisers, this person said. Facebook won't provide any special treatment for GM, however.
Sources said that GM is waiting for Facebook to prove its effectiveness.
In the end, the $10 million the GM spent on Facebook advertising was minuscule - both to GM and Facebook, really. But, as a vote of confidence in the ability of Facebook ads to be effective, GM's return would be good news for Facebook.