Facebook, General Motors Discuss Possible New Ad Partnership

In a public split, the car giant had stopped its ad spending on the social network just before its IPO amid questions about its effectiveness.


Facebook and General Motors have held talks to bring the auto giant back as an advertiser on the social network after a high-profile falling out, the Wall Street Journal reported.

In May, GM global marketing chief Joel Ewanick said that there was no proof that paid ads on Facebook had an impact on consumers' car purchases, prompting GM to stop its ad spending with the network just days before Facebook's IPO.

But Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg reached out and spoke to GM CEO Daniel Akerson about a potential new ad deal, and the companies have been in discussions about the possibility, according to the Journal.

Ewanick and Carolyn Everson, Facebook's global sales head, met for the first time since the public end of the ad relationship in Cannes last month, the paper said. Everson promised to provide GM with better data showing how ads can turn into car purchases, according to the report. Facebook has also done that with other advertisers.

The Journalhighlighted though that Facebook won't give GM any special treatment.

Meanwhile, GM has met with digital ad firms to come up with ideas for ways to create content for Facebook pages and apps, but the car company hasn't committed to spending money on the network yet.

GM spent about $10 million last year on Facebook ads, compared to its total 2011 U.S. ad spending of $1.8 billion, according to research firm Kantar Media.

Facebook's 2011 revenue, most of it from advertising, amounted to $3.7 billion.

Beyond the apparent GM rapprochement, Facebook has also gone on the offensive about its ad effectiveness. Top ad executives from the network have been tackling criticism. "It is a myth that Facebook advertising doesn't work," Brad Smallwood, head of measurement and insight at Facebook, told the Journalin a June interview.