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The biggest advertiser in the world just reminded us why Facebook wants to be TV

The tube still rules when it comes to brand advertising.

Cindy Crawford, selling Pepsi on TV in 1991
Photo by Pepsi/Getty Images
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Facebook is a giant, mega-successful advertising business.

It has 1.7 billion users, and it knows a ton about them, which is why it did $17 billion in ad revenue last year.

But despite years of trying to convince advertisers otherwise, Facebook is still not TV — the place advertisers go when they want to spend huge sums on brand advertising, meant to create overall awareness of their products.

Instead, Facebook is the place advertisers go for direct response ads: Ads that send you somewhere when you click on them, so you can buy or download something immediately. Facebook is better at DR ads than anyone — see that second sentence at the top — but DR ads are of limited use for some advertisers.

We got a reminder of that today, when the Wall Street Journal reported that P&G, the world’s biggest advertiser, was going to pull back on the targeted ads it was running on Facebook, because targeted ads weren’t helping P&G sell Tide and Pampers.

But P&G is increasing its TV budget.

P&G isn’t cutting back on its overall Facebook spend, and this news isn’t going to be a long-term problem for Facebook.

Remember when GM also declared that Facebook ads don’t work? Back in May 2012? The same week Facebook went public? It worked out for Facebook in the end.

But it does underscore why Facebook is running, as fast as it can, to becoming a company that shows you videos, and eventually video ads. Just like TV.

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