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What GM's Facebook Unlike Really Means

Teaching old dogs new tricksSo, GM announced yesterday that they’re killing their Facebook ads, with the Wall Street Journal noting the company found the ads “ineffective” and “had little impact on consumers.”

Most of the online world has determined this means the sky is falling for Facebook. For instance, The Atlantic has a piece noting that people click on 1 out of 2,000 Facebook ads they see or about 1 ad for every 800 clicked on Google. And Mashable wonders whether Zuck & Co. are snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

But it looks to me like everyone is missing the point.

What actually happened here is that an old-school, heavy hitter in the advertising space used a bunch of data to determine its next steps. They’re making informed decisions and redirecting their efforts towards those media that help them achieve their goals.

And they’re not alone. Earlier this year, P&G cut a bunch of headcount from its marketing team (as well as other departments) to shift more resources towards digital marketing. As AdAge notes,

“In the short term, however, heavy spending on the 2012 U.S. elections is likely to put upward pressure on P&G’s TV costs, [P&G CFO Jon Moeller] said.

“In the digital space, with things like Facebook and Google and others, we find that return on investment of the advertising when properly designed, when the big idea is there, can be much more efficient,” [CEO Bob] McDonald said. He cited the 1.8 billion in free impressions generated by the Old Spice campaign in recent years, adding “there are many other examples I can cite from all over the world.””

So, GM discovered that Facebook didn’t work at exactly the same time that P&G found that Facebook and Google did. Is one of them lying? Stupid? Simply not paying attention?

I suspect not.

Instead, they’re learning.

It’s no secret how much we like A/B testing. And Wired recently offered up a piece about A/B testing and its effect on marketing. GM and P&G’s recent shifts further underscore the rise of the geek marketer.

If you can teach old dogs like GM and P&G new tricks, there’s hope for everyone.

The question now is, what have you learned lately?

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Tim Peter is the founder and president of Tim Peter & Associates. You can learn more about our company's strategy and digital marketing consulting services here or about Tim here.

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