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GM returns to Facebook with test of mobile ads for Chevy Sonic

April 09, 2013|By Jessica Guynn
  • Nearly a year after its split from Facebook, General Motors said Tuesday it has begun advertising again on the giant social network. It's testing mobile ads for its subcompact Chevy Sonic.
Nearly a year after its split from Facebook, General Motors said Tuesday… (Chevrolet )

SAN FRANCISCO -- Nearly a year after its tumultuous split, General Motors Co. has updated its relationship status with Facebook Inc.

The Detroit auto maker said Tuesday it has begun advertising again on the giant social network. It said it's testing mobile ads for its subcompact Chevy Sonic.

GM did not say how much it was spending on the ads.

"Chevrolet is testing a number of mobile advertising solutions, including Facebook, as part of its 'Find New Roads' campaign," Chevrolet marketing vice president Chris Perry said in an emailed statement. "Today, Chevrolet is launching an industry-first ‘mobile-only’ pilot campaign for the Chevrolet Sonic that utilizes newly available targeting and measurement capabilities on Facebook."

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Three days before Facebook's hotly anticipated initial public stock offering in May 2012, GM set off a firestorm of negative publicity for Facebook by announcing it would stop advertising on the social network because it said the paid ads had little effect on people's decision to buy a car.

The pullout of one of the nation's largest advertisers raised troubling questions about the effectiveness of ads on Facebook just as Facebook was trying to convince investors it was worth its $100-billion valuation.

GM spent about $10 million in 2011 advertising on Facebook, a tiny fraction of the $3 billion-plus it spent in the U.S. that year. Its former marketing chief, Joel Ewanick, who was behind the call to stop advertising on Facebook, was dismissed in July.

Facebook executives have said for months that they were in ongoing talks with GM to resume advertising.

In an emailed statement, Facebook said: "We've had an ongoing dialogue with GM over the last twelve months and are pleased to have them back as an advertiser on Facebook. We look forward to working even more closely with GM in the coming weeks and months."

Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser said the rapprochement was not a surprise.

"It's a favorable thing for Facebook but it's nowhere near as positive as it was negative when GM left right before the IPO," Wieser said. "If Facebook can get an extra $10 million or $20 million a year from a large marketer, they'll take it."

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