13 December

Is It Surprising that P&G, Tide Struggle with Facebook Advertising?

In today’s New York Times, Randall Stross dissects the world of brand advertising within social networks. Stross’ article, Advertisers Face Hurdles on Social Networking Sites, delves into whether or not brands can scalably succeed on social networks (namely Facebook):

Brand advertisers on Facebook can try one of two new approaches. They can be more intrusive, but the outcome will not be positive. Or they can create genuinely entertaining commercials, but spend ungodly sums to do so.

When Facebook convinces advertisers to stage Super Bowl-sized entertainment every day, its future will be assured.

These are important questions, but they aren’t necessarily the right ones. Rather, I’d ask:

– For what brands and verticals *does* advertising within social networks work? For instance, we know it works within music.

– At what cost does the advertising come? Is it measurable?

– What tactics are successful advertisers using? Are there ‘black hat’ behaviors and, if so, does that prevent certain brands / verticals from succeeding?

These questions are important because, despite Stross’ well-written and researched article… it really shouldn’t come as a surprise that P&G’s Tide campaign doesn’t work on Facebook. Do social networkers really want socialize around detergent? Even if they do – is that valuable for P&G?

Tide’s failure on Facebook seems obvious. But I do not believe it suggests that brands cannot succeed on Facebook…. it may well be however that only brands within certain verticals can succeed until one of two things happen:

1. Facebook becomes more aggressive on the ad front (and it will)
2. The Tides of the world mask their ads behind more creative, sneaky efforts

The “America’s Favorite Stains” campaign, offered on Facebook by Procter & Gamble, asks for members’ ideas. It recently displayed 18 submissions.

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