Facebook’s advertising value has long been questioned by brands both big and small. Does it have the potential to influence immediate purchasing behaviour or is its power limited to long term brand awareness? Certainly Martin Sorrell has some strong opinions on the matter.
“I get myself in deep doo-doo when I say this, but Facebook to my mind is not an advertising medium. It is a branding medium. So if I can get you to say something nice about WPP or me or one of our companies on Facebook to your wife, your friends, or whoever, that’s good. But it’s a long-term mechanism. Compare that with Google. Say you’re searching for a car: We know that up to 90% of car purchases in the U.S. are search-influenced. Depending on where you are in the purchase cycle, that number one ranking on Google seems more important than a Facebook “like.” This doesn’t deny the potency of Facebook. But it has to be seen in the context of a long continuum of brand building.”
With this kind of cynicism from one of the worlds’ most respected media giants, it’s little surprise that Facebook are making a concerted effort to initiate dialogue with the industry. Maintaining a healthy balance between advertising efficacy and the quality of user experience is a constant battle for Facebook but they know that they haven’t got an infinite amount of time to prove their worth to the big brands. General Motors have already made a huge cut in Facebook ad spend. The advisory board meetings already take place in the US and Facebook will be hoping that the discussions on both sides of the Atlantic will be an opportunity to placate the skeptics and move a step closer towards delivering a substantial and quantifiable return on their investment.
Among those attending will be Tesco’s, Unilever and Coca-Cola, not to mention the five most influential media agencies. I can only assume my invite’s still in the post 😉