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Does Facebook Have a Brand Problem?

Does Facebook Have a Brand Problem? Keith Trivitt

Facebook has been all over the news lately. Unfortunately for the company, much of that news has been of the non-positive, stock-sinking variety. But there is a silver lining: Facebook appears to be finally getting its act together when it comes to brand advertising! At least, that’s what we’re led to believe by the frenetic PR push the company has been on in recent weeks.

The reality, as Digiday’s Brian Morrissey expertly dissected in a recent post, is more nuanced and less rosy for the social network. In that blistering post, Morrissey declared what many digital marketers have long grumbled to themselves: “Facebook’s got a brand problem.”

The post details how, despite some laudatory press about its overhauled ad offerings, marketers aren’t buying the hype that Facebook is trying to portray about its value to advertisers. “More often than not, marketers proclaim to love Facebook, only not for the ads,” Morrissey says. But much of what they love about Facebook is its “earned and owned media” and brand equity-building qualities: the fact that it allows brands a free and enormous platform upon which they can distribute their messages to whomever they’d like.

Despite this apparent upside, there are many reasons why skepticism remains high among marketers over the value of advertising on Facebook. Whether it is the feeling that Facebook just doesn’t just doesn’t care about brands, or the daily grind marketers have trying get some semblance of reasonable stats and analytics about the value of the money they spend on Facebook advertising, the general perception seems to be that Facebook is putting on a show for advertisers rather than helping them deliver results.

It's fairly clear that because Facebook is now a public company and facing public-company pressures (stock price, growth, revenue, etc.) it has ceded some of the control it once had over brands. And brands and marketers know that, which partly explains why advertisers are getting more aggressive and bold in asking for detailed, quantifiable analytics about their marketing spend on Facebook.

Part of the issue stems from advertisers and agencies themselves who, frankly, haven’t done a great job of keeping up with and adapting to Facebook’s changes. But that also comes down a fundamental lack of proper communication from Facebook to its advertisers and the agencies they work with.

Ultimately, it’s about respect and communication. One side — brands (and agencies, to an extent) — feels as though it is being stepped on by Facebook at the expense of helping the company look good for its investors. The other side — Facebook — seems to feel as though it has done more than enough to satisfy advertisers and isn’t willing to give up any more control or data than it already has.

It’s unfortunate it has come down to this “Who’s going to win?” situation. The fact remains, however, that better communication by Facebook about its ad changes and value to brands would go a long way toward solving its “brand problem.”

As Digiday’s Morrissey concludes in his post, Facebook isn’t a bad business. But its “brand problem” is real and it must be rectified if the company hopes to finally win over the growing chorus of skeptical advertisers and brands.

Keith Trivitt is director of marketing and communications at MediaWhiz, a performance marketing and integrated digital media agency.

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