What Social Media Ad Agencies Say About Facebook

When General Motors Co., the third-largest advertiser in the U.S., said it would pull ads from Facebook, it sparked a discussion about the effectiveness of marketing and advertising on social media sites. Here is what a handful of companies that manage brands on social media had to say:

Effectiveness Is Measured Differently

Adaptly, which handles social ads for PepsiCo Inc. and Kraft Foods Inc., said the ads and brand pages are for developing relationships and a network, which means that companies can’t measure them alongside the clicks and views they get on other sites.

“Technically the ads are ineffective if you represent effectiveness in a traditional way,” said Nikhil Sethi, the chief executive officer of the New York-based company. “The whole notion of display advertising is real estate. Buy space on my website where people see it. And now there’s this whole model where the content has to be interesting in order for people to see it.”

Challenge of Reaching Fans

22Squared, which works with Baskin-Robbins ice cream and Florida’s Natural orange juice, said companies are having a harder time accessing the users who say they’re fans on a brand page. Since Facebook adjusted its algorithm to give users more relevant stories, only about 16 percent of a fan base sees the content unless companies pay to get in front of more of them or post content that will go viral, the agency said.

“It’s a little bit frustrating, knowing that in order to reach the goals that we used to get naturally, it’s much more costly,” said Chris Tuff, head of earned and emerging media for the Atlanta-based company. Still, “clients have been looking to increase their spend.”

What’s the Objective?

AdParlor, a social ad buyer based in Toronto, said it’s more labor-intensive than traditional online display advertising for companies to get their money’s worth.

“It is not easy for a brand to get Facebook advertising to work,” Chief Executive Officer Hussein Fazal said. “It’s not just about plastering the site with ads. Facebook advertising can only be effective if you have specific end goal in mind. Do they want to drive users to local dealerships? Or are they just trying to get people to ‘Like’ their brand page? There are different strategies for each.”

Adam Isserlis, a spokesman for Facebook, declined to comment ahead of the company’s IPO.

–With assistance from Edmund Lee in New York.

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