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GM in talks with Facebook about return to paid ads

DETROIT (Reuters) - General Motors Co and Facebook Inc are discussing the return of the U.S. automaker as a paid advertiser about eight months after GM said it would stop running ads on the social networking website, a top GM executive said.

Alan Batey, GM's interim marketing chief, said at the Detroit auto show that discussions with Facebook officials were ongoing though the Detroit company had nothing to announce about a return to Facebook as a paid advertiser.

"We're still actively talking to them and looking at opportunities that come our way," Batey told Reuters on Tuesday. "I wouldn't tell you that there's a Mexican standoff here. We just didn't see the value" in the ads.

Three days before Facebook's May 2012 IPO, GM said it was dropping paid ads on the website because they had little impact on consumers.

GM has previously said it spent about $40 million on its Facebook presence, but only $10 million of that was paid to Facebook for advertising. The rest covers the creation of content and the advertising and media agencies involved.

Sources said last summer that the two companies were discussing GM's return and Facebook offered to provide GM with data showing the effectiveness of the website's paid ads. However, Facebook at that time did not offer any concessions.

Batey declined to discuss the current talks or to provide a possible timing for GM's return to Facebook, where it still has pages for which it pays no fees to market its car and trucks.

"I wouldn't want to predict if there's something, but I also wouldn't be surprised if there were some things," he said.

Also last May, GM said it would not advertise on CBS during the 2013 Super Bowl because the ad spots were overpriced. Batey said that decision remained in place.

Separately, Batey said he had nothing to announce on GM hiring a permanent chief marketing officer. GM's former marketing chief Joel Ewanick was fired last August for not properly disclosing the full cost of a $559 million sponsorship deal with English soccer club Manchester United.

(Reporting by Ben Klayman in Detroit; Editing by Bernadette Baum)

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