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Facebook's pitch to automakers: We have reach

Facebook's pitch to automakers: We have reach

Facebook revved up its charm offensive for the auto industry last month,  holding its first "summits" in Detroit and Los Angeles for executives from Team  Detroit, Carat, GM, Ford and Toyota.

The social network has good reason to go the extra mile when wooing  carmakers. Just days before going public last year, Facebook's ad business faced  a major crisis when General Motors Co. announced it would pull its ads from the  site because it wasn't sure if they were having an impact on sales. GM came back  to the fold in April, and Facebook has been trying over the last six months to  be more strategic about the overtures it makes to automakers.

Now it's taking what it believes is a tantalizing pitch for automakers to  this fall's digital upfronts: In addition to its reach, Facebook can deliver an  audience of people actually in the market to buy a car.

Through its data partners, the social network can show automakers how many  people exposed to their ads ended up buying their car after at least two months  have passed.

Better targeting

The holy grail for Facebook -- and other digital publishers -- is to show how  big of a hand it had in influencing that purchase. That would be critical for  Facebook to get a larger share of spending from automakers, which have no  shortage of online options for reaching consumers actively researching a car  purchase.

Facebook's strategy largely hinges on better targeting. In April, Facebook  made it possible to target people in the market for a car through its  partnership with data behemoth Datalogix, which in turn has a relationship with  Polk, a marketing company that collects registration data from DMVs.

Better targeting, along with better measurement and the option of  more-attractive newsfeed ads where photos render much better than on the desktop  right rail, is starting to pay off for Facebook, according to Addie Conner,  chief innovation officer for social-ads company SocialCode.

"We're starting to see autos back on the platform: retesting, reinvesting and  now coming back with really large spend," she said.

While ad networks also access auto-intender data, Facebook's trove of user  data offers a higher degree of accuracy than cookie-based technologies, said  Kass Dawson, the social network's head of auto-global vertical strategies.  That's because the process of matching third-party data to Facebook users is  based on identifiers that people have given in their profiles, like names,  addresses and even phone numbers.

"In some cases, that allows us to reach a much greater audience within some  segments than they're going to get anywhere else that's based on cookies," said  Dawson, who came to Facebook six months ago from Jumpstart Automotive Group,  which sells ads for a portfolio of digital publications. "Multiply that by our  scale, and you're talking about numbers that are very significant to  advertisers."

Segment sponsorships

For the first time, this fall Facebook is participating in annual digital  upfronts -- nine of them, Dawson said -- held by individual automakers to commit  spending for 2014. Regular participants include "endemic" automotive sites like  Edmunds and Kelley Blue Book, where people go to research a car purchase, as  well as Yahoo Autos.

Facebook has something new to sell: sponsorships that allow automakers to buy  out an entire segment of in-market users -- people likely to soon buy a sedan or  a compact car, for example -- for a month.

Dawson declined to comment on the pricing of the segments or whether any had  been purchased. Based on the reach involved, they're likely to be pricey. The  smallest contain between 4 million and 5 million people, he said.

Hyundai Director of Marketing David Matathia said his team tried Facebook ads  for in-market users as part of a beta test last December and was satisfied that  it reached its targets. To date, Hyundai hasn't bought Facebook's monthlong  blocks, but it plans to continue testing the effectiveness of ads aimed at auto  intenders.

"The next bit for us -- and we've talked to [Facebook] about it -- is  isolating the Facebook exposure specifically," Matathia said.


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Tags: cardealermarketing, carmarketing, carsales, socialmediamarketing


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