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Facebook is No Waste of Marketing Dollars

“A display ad on Facebook is a lifeless emotionless waste of marketing dollars.”

That’s how one radio industry analyst colorfully put it.

Although one might ask exactly where isn’t a simple “display ad” a “lifeless emotionless waste of marketing dollars”?  And just how emotion-packed and full of life is a Google ad?  Yet that would hardly be called a “waste.”

The debate over the wisdom or foolishness of advertising on Facebook is wrong-headed and self-serving and replete with too much premature chest-thumping and grave-dancing.

So GM drops a chump-change investment in Facebook advertising in favor of a much larger investment in the brand and customer management power of Facebook.  Granted, Facebook makes money from the former, not the latter, but that’s Facebook’s problem and Facebook’s fault.  Facebook didn’t do a good job servicing the needs of this client, and so they got “fired.”  That says less about the “effectiveness” of Facebook overall than about the dynamics of this particular relationship.  Haven’t you ever lost a client?  Does it mean your brand doesn’t work for advertisers?

I would bet all the money I have that GM will be back advertising on Facebook. In a different way, at a different time, and quite probably under the direction of a different agency.  But they’ll be back.  And what should radio conclude then?

We need to stop dismissing popular competitors for advertiser attention and start learning from them.

This morning on MSNBC Joe Scarborough was chuckling about how nobody clicks on Facebook ads.  Well nobody clicks on Morning Joe ads either – nor on your TV spots, but that isn’t so funny, is it, Joe?

The larger puzzle is not whether Facebook ads work, it’s whether or not brands want to spend their money in advertising or in marketing. Confuse the two at your peril.

The marketing dollars invested in Facebook by GM are growing even as the ad dollars are shrinking.  That tells us marketing dollars on Facebook are working for GM even if the company momentarily concludes that ad dollars aren’t.

Today, brands can be their own media platforms, and in that audience playground mediated by platforms like Facebook, the best ad dollar spent may be the one tagged “marketing.”

Are you helping your clients market or helping them advertise?

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