Walmart just told us that BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield — who yesterday accused Walmart of using “deception” to gather likes on Facebook — was completely wrong to accuse the company of breaking Facebook’s rules by selling its own ad space to third parties such as ABCand Colgate.
Greenfield alleged that Walmart was gathering likes for itself by displaying content for other brands (and tricking people into liking Walmart when they really intended to like the third-party content). He termed this “ad spam” and told investors:
Walmart shifted its Facebook “Like” acquisition strategy to deception, with ads that appeared to run counter to Facebook’s social mission.
He also downgraded FB to “sell” and the stock lost 3% thereafter.
Walmart, however, says Greenfield’s analysis — including his alleged “proof” that ABC imagery on Walmart’s page was a spam co-op ad buy — is bunk. In an email, spokesman Steven V. Restivo told us:
Our relationship allows us to further engage with our customers and our fans have told us they like finding out about items in store. As a result, we often leverage new and seasonally relevant products and services as part of our marketing strategy, much in the same way as other companies.
The references in the BTIG article are organic posts, and not funded by suppliers. More specifically, the ABC ad was not a paid placement nor was it resold, but rather used to promote family content which is in-line with our “Family Moments” campaign.
Facebook previously did not respond to a request for comment.
Your move, Greenfield.
Disclosure: The author owns Facebook stock.