GM about Face … Book.

It must be interesting to be Mark Zuckerberg. Imagine getting up each morning knowing that your product (or at least the idea you borrowed from your friends) will probably be used at some point today by 15% of humanity. Not to mention, if you live until you were 90, you could spend a million dollars a day and still have change in your shroud. Then imagine opening your iPad over your cornflakes to read that just a few days before your massive IPO, General Motors has dropped your product because it doesn’t sell cars.

I can only imagine a Wile E. Coyote double take at that headline. It is a little shocking and awfully bad timing given the IPO hoopla.

Huge media companies tend to get hard to deal with and perhaps a tad arrogant, so I bet there were some ruffled feathers behind the GM announcement. But the fundamental question has been echoed by many advertisers: Does Facebook convert? When measured by conventional means, it is not easy to prove that Facebook can compete with conventional or other new media.

That has been our experience. We don’t have the kind of engagements with our clients that allow us to Facebook for them, but the limited advertising testing we have done has been underwhelming at best. The common wisdom is that where as search is a transactional medium, social media is all about engagement, and it is much harder to define where the fit happens and then be able to measure that fit. The problem is, Facebook is just too big to dismiss. Roughly half of all webpages served this year will be on Facebook. Yes, half.

However, Facebook only accounts for about 10% of display ad spend, so there is quite a bit of catching up to do. Facebook has been terrific at expanding the amount of interest and locality information they make available to advertisers.  I mean, you really can target left-handed podiatrists in Oshkosh with pretty decent accuracy and volume. But those same podiatrists don’t seem much inclined to click on the ads.

There has to be a way to make this work at scale, and folks like us are busy working on it.  In the meantime, pass the cornflakes, Mark, and can I have next Wednesday’s million, please?

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