Facebook & GM Back Together

FB and GMFacebook Inc. won back General Motors Co. as an advertising customer a year after the automaker said it would quit running marketing messages on the world’s largest social-networking service.

The test ads, running on Facebook’s mobile applications and website, will promote the Chevrolet Sonic subcompact car, GM said yesterday in an e-mailed statement. It’s part of a broader GM mobile-marketing effort.

Facebook has been introducing new tools and services to keep users engaged longer and lure advertisers. GM’s decision to end Facebook ads in May heightened investor concerns that other large advertisers would reconsider the website. The reversal shows the headway Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg is making in getting companies to tout wares to people socializing on handheld devices.

“To Facebook’s credit, I think they also got better about understanding how to better target certain users and to get messages across in that way instead of being just a social network,” Thilo Koslowski, an auto industry analyst with Gartner Inc. based in San Jose, California, said in a telephone interview.

Facebook rose 3.2 percent to $27.45 at 10:01 a.m. in New York, while GM increased 1.2 percent to $27.86.

Facebook had made an effort to win back GM’s business with Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg talking with GM Chief Executive Officer Dan Akerson last year about resuming ads, people familiar with the discussion said at the time.

Facebook rolled out its mobile-advertising service in March 2012, trying to better monetize the growing number of users accessing the service through wireless devices. More than 60 percent of its 1.1 billion members use the service when they’re on smartphones and tablets, according to a regulatory filing.

By the fourth quarter of last year, mobile generated 23 percent of Facebook’s advertising revenue, up from 14 percent in the third quarter. Still, it lags behind Google Inc. which is projected to grab 57 percent of the U.S. market for mobile advertising in 2015, according to researcher EMarketer Inc.

“It shows one thing: Nobody can really ignore Facebook,” Koslowski said. “GM realizes there must be a value proposition for them to go to Facebook.”

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