GM Returns to Facebook Advertising After Public Split a Year Ago

Launches Mobile Ad for Chevrolet on Social Network

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Eleven months after a very public divorce, General Motors is reconciling with Facebook.

GM has confirmed to Ad Age that it is back in the fold as a Facebook advertiser. Thus ends a bizarre chapter in which GM, the second-largest U.S. marketer publicly eschewed the social network's ad products three days before its hotly anticipated initial public offering. Paid advertising makes up the lion's share of Facebook revenue.*

Chris Perry
Chris Perry

"Chevrolet is testing a number of mobile-advertising solutions, including Facebook, as part of its 'Find New Roads' campaign," said Chris Perry, VP-U.S. Chevrolet marketing. "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."

The automaker didn't explain why it's returning to Facebook ads now, why it waited so long after the July dismissal of former CMO Joel Ewanick, who was instrumental in the decision to stop advertising on the social network, or how much it plans to spend on Facebook ads. (GM reportedly spent around $10 million on Facebook ads in 2011 -- pocket change out of the $3.1 billion it spent domestically that year, according to the Ad Age DataCenter.)

What's clear is that GM is returning to Facebook ads despite not getting its way. Ad Age reported last May that GM's decision to withdraw came after a meeting between Mr. Ewanick, other top GM marketing brass and Facebook sales executives in which the automaker asked if could run bigger, higher-impact ads than what had been available.

Facebook has since introduced its ad exchange, FBX, and has shifted its focus from social ads to more traditional web-advertising models, such as re-targeting. It still, however, offers nothing like a home-page takeover (apart from the log-out ad).

"We've had an ongoing dialogue with GM over the last 12 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," Facebook said in a statement.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said GM advertising accounted for the lion's share of Facebook revenue. Paid advertising in general does.

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