Hey, Facebook, your future started on Friday, when, on the brink of the business world stopping to watch your massive money-grab disguised as an IPO, that often-crumbly but currently OK pillar of the old economy, General Motors, announced to the world that it was pulling its $10 million advertising budget from your coffers.
It would have been my extreme pleasure to have had the opportunity to quietly wander the halls of the flat-screen-TV-and-ping-pong-table-laden Facebook office that houses the advertising sales staff after THAT phone call was received. It’s one thing to be an economy unto yourself, to break all of the conventional rules that have bound the rest of us mortals as you raced to accolades, worship and adulation. But these are the days when you’re beginning to understand that, as a publically traded company, YOUR rules no longer are the only rules that you must consider. It will be very interesting to watch how your current struggles to justify the ad revenue you generate impact your business, and, consequently, what it does to your once seemingly guaranteed status as the new darling of Wall Street.
Remember, Facebook is NOT Apple. Apple makes products. Amazing, beautiful, innovative products that often solve problems that we as consumers didn’t even know we had. Before my first iPod, I carried one of those soft-sided cases that held 96 CDs. Try grabbing that from the back seat as you fly down the highway at break-neck speed in the middle of a six-hour road trip by yourself. Problem solved.
Facebook has the world in a room, speaking to each other and having an otherwise great time. What it’s NOT, however, is a place where we’re interested in hearing (or looking at) ads. Not in the traditional sense, at least. Whatever dollars Facebook is generating in traditional ad revenue is under attack, as it should be. It’s the quintessential round hole, and real-estate advertising on the site is the all-but-ignored square peg.
Now, that being said: General Motors, seriously? What kind of dicks are you guys? You know Facebook is on the brink of world domination, and you choose NOW to publicly pull the plug on a partner that you intend to continue to spend money with? (GM will still spend $30 million of its’ advertising budget with Facebook). Some partner. It’s akin to telling all of your buddy’s potential girlfriends about a bout of venereal disease he USED to have…but he’s all good now….seriously. Clearly GM hasn’t yet figured out how to behave in today’s social economy.
As a vendor to GM for years, this is typical of them. They’ve gone to great lengths post-bailout trying to convince vendors that this is the “NEW” GM, but this smacks of the legacy of arrogance and self-proclaimed superiority that we’ve been dealing with since ALL Chevy’s got less than 10 mpg. You should be ashamed of yourself, and, in reality, the reason why you’re pulling this spend is because you haven’t a clue how to weave the necessary story to your “friends” on Facebook, the story that invites us to understand who this supposed “new” company is…the content-driven story that Scott Monty and the guys over at Ford are kicking your asses with every day.
Good luck, Generous Motors. Your cars are better, but your attitude still sucks—no matter what you tell us. Let this be a cautionary tale to all of us in our industry as well. When you don’t MAKE anything that you sell, you’re only as good as your suppliers. And, unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of suppliers out there looking to break their backs for you if all you do is treat them poorly. Know when you really need something from them and when it’s OK to let them make some money, too. Otherwise, you’ll never know when that arrogance come back to bite you.