The Facebook/GM Ado Very Well Might Have Been About Nothing

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According to a report in Reuters today, General Motors' decision to pull its paid advertising from Facebook was preceded by the social network trying to pitch the value of its free pages in the first place.

On Tuesday, GM announced that it would be pulling the $10 million it spends on paid ads on Facebook because, as the automotive manufacturer said, the ads just didn't work. It wasn't the decision that conjured up the controversy so much as it was the reasoning behind the decision, especially given that GM announced the decision mere days before Facebook's vaunted IPO (which is happening today).

While GM says the timing wasn't coordinated, its decision to cease paying for ads on Facebook ignited a storm of scrutiny over whether Facebook ads were even worth a damn. The report from Reuters today, though, seems to nullify any of that scrutiny - at least in the respect to this specific incidence - if in fact Facebook was trying to sell GM on the value of free brand pages.

An undisclosed source told Reuters that Facebook's effort to pitch the free brand pages "backfires on them in a funny way," although the only backdraft that seems apparent might be artificial.

Consider this formula: Facebook emphasizes the value of free brand pages, so then GM decides to stop paying for ads but says its going to maintain its Facebook page and just focus on the freely available content.

How is that controversial?

The true and perhaps only story in this saga then gets narrowed down to the fact that GM, although it was advised by Facebook to focus on the free pages, said that the website's paid ads didn't work. The pronouncement now appears to be a little more underhanded than originally perceived.

A source of Reuters said of GM, ""They're just going to try not doing it for a while and see how it goes; just make content and if it works, it works."

So now, if GM's merely doing what Facebook advised it to do in the first place, where's the controversy in this whole non-drama?