As Facebook stock continues to live below initial expectations after the company's IPO, investors and marketers keep parsing the zeitgeist for signs of whether Facebook is gaining momentum — or losing it — in one important area that will determine the shares' future value and the ultimate fate of the company: paid advertising.
Three more big-time marketers have weighed in on that topic: Ford and Coca-Cola indicated this week that they intend to expand their use of the social network in advertising, while a Dannon USA executive told brandchannel that the yogurt giant isn't persuaded that Facebook advertising is a great idea.
Coca-Cola CMO Joe Tripodi commented at the Cannes Lions ad conference this week that Facebook ads probably drive its beverage sales. "If we can get 40-million-plus fans, or even some subset of them, talking positively about the things we're doing, ultimately that's a good thing for us," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Meanwhile, Ford group VP of global sales and marketing Jim Farley, meeting with a group of reporters in Michigan, reiterated that the company plans to expand its use of advertising on Facebook.
Ford very pointedly had laid out this basic aim a few weeks ago after rival General Motors, right before Facebook's IPO, dropped the bombshell that it planned to stop advertising on Facebook altogether, finding it ineffective. "Someone who 'likes' you on Facebook is substantially more willing to advocate the brand," Farley stated, according to the Journal.
But Dannon's senior director of public relations, Michael Neuwirth, told brandchannel that his company isn't warming up to advertising on Facebook. Like Coke and Ford, the yogurt brand has found that maintaining free pages on Facebook (as opposed to also paying for Facebook ads) "has been a very effective way to build community, to find people who enjoy your product, and build loyalty," he said. "And it can be an effective way to promote coupons."
"But beyond that," Neuwirth said, "we haven't advertised extensively on Facebook from a volume-driving perspective. We don't think we've seen a way to do it efficiently. We don't think we've found volume-driving ways that are sustainable to be a Facebook advertiser."
Neuwirth's assessment is especially interesting because it is thought that repeat purchases such as CPG products are where brands can find Facebook advertising most effective — as compared, say, with a long-cycle purchase such as an automobile. Your thoughts?