Doubts over whether Facebook can carry adverts
WPP chief Sir Martin Sorrell has ‘fundamental’ doubts over whether Facebook can carry adverts
Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of the world’s biggest advertising group, WPP, has cast “fundamental” doubts on whether adverts will ever work on Facebook.
Facebook is valued at about $100bn (£61bn) but has struggled to turn its phenomenal reach and influence into money Photo: Getty Images
By Katherine Rushton
6:43PM BST 16 Sep 2011
Speaking at the Royal Television Society in Cambridge on Friday, Sir Martin said that social networks were “not the right context” for commercial advertising because they interrupted something that was supposed to be fluid and informal.
“Facebook, Google+, Twitter are advanced forms of social interaction. We used to write letters to each other and now we correspond through Facebook and Twitter. If you interrupt that with a message you may run into trouble.
“I have some fundamental doubts about the ability to monetise social platforms… it is dangerous territory if you try to over-monetise it,” he said.
Sir Martin claimed that Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, had been forced to withdraw two “failed experiments” at commercial activity on the social network after they sparked a “revolution” by users.
However, he added that influencing social networks remained an “extremely powerful” way of building brands and trust in brands.
Facebook is valued at about $100bn (£61bn) but has struggled to turn its phenomenal reach and influence into money. Earlier this month, sources told Reuters it had notched up $1.6bn in first-half revenues, but this is thought to be $400m short of “conservative” projections circulated by Goldman Sachs when it invested in the company.
Sir Martin also used the platform at Cambridge to reiterate his call for a “subsidy” for quality journalists, and especially print journalists, so that newspapers do not have to depend on the likes of Warren Buffett or New York Times investor Carlos Slim to “subsidise them by buying them as trophy properties”.
“You have to find some way of ensuring professional journalism is preserved,” Sir Martin said.