Google ads sell cars. The pay-per-click (PPC) AdWords program that has been a mainstay for so many auto dealers, however, has become increasingly expensive. Average AdWords prices for vehicle-related ads, according to Dealer.com, now stand well above three dollars, with sharp year-over-year increases the recent norm, as well.
In many cases today, advertising on Facebook will make much more sense. Thanks to powerful tools that make it possible to leverage Facebook Ads’ finer granularity and more precise targeting without human intervention, returns on investment regularly dwarf those of Google AdWords. As more independent dealerships are now discovering, Facebook can drive qualified, in-market traffic directly to vehicle detail pages (VDPs) and cut costs by as much as half compared to advertising on Google.
For Auto Dealers, Facebook Outperforms Google in Two Important Ways
Google is an Internet giant, with the company’s search engine responding to billions of queries every day. So much volume means there are large audiences for AdWords PPC ads placed alongside the results for all the most common searches.
Facebook is no slouch, either. More than two billion users participate on the network worldwide every month, and the social, personal nature of the service can contribute to positive feelings like trust, openness, and loyalty.
Both Google and Facebook put a lot of effort into tracking and understanding their users. In addition to keeping records of every interaction with their own endpoints, the two technology titans also pull in information from many other sites and services.
Even so, Facebook’s status as a digital home away from home for so many provides it with a definite advantage. While Google AdWords PPC customers can target their ads using factors like search terms and location, Facebook goes a lot further.
In fact, Facebook Ads can even enable auto dealers to filter and select users based on personal financial details like credit scores and employment history, alongside other traits such as demonstrated intent to buy a car in the near future. This impressive level of granularity is a strength in its own right and combines with reasonable pricing on many Facebook Ads to produce outstanding potential for returns on investment.
Five Keys to Making the Most of Facebook Ads as an Auto Dealer
Unfortunately, managing that level of detail and complexity by hand is simply not a realistic option for many car dealers. Even keeping up with a straightforward Google AdWords campaign will inevitably take a lot of work, as so many who have tried to optimize their PPC spending have discovered.
Facebook provides tools that can help, but relying too much on them will generally mean giving up on a great deal of the targeting ability that makes its Ads so attractive. Worse yet, the level of direct support to be expected from Facebook scales with spending, so independent auto dealers tend to lose out to larger competitors.
None of this is to say, however, that independent auto dealers cannot make excellent use of Facebook advertising. On the contrary, car dealers who have the right systems and processes in place can generate returns on Facebook Ads spending that will dwarf the best that AdWords can offer. The building blocks that are needed are tools that address five fundamental issues:
- Inventory. The ultimate value of Facebook’s targeting granularity lies in the way that it allows dealers to direct users to especially appropriate VDPs. Doing so requires enabling access to current inventories at all times so as have the latest and most relevant listings ready. That data must also be available in forms that will not interfere with other activities.
- Prioritizing. Once inventory-related data has been made available, particular vehicles can be given priority over others for listing. If a dealership ends up with too many cars of one body type, it could make sense to try to move those before vehicles that are already selling quickly. Some vehicles will naturally be a better fit for ads displayed online, and identifying these will help.
- Listing. With the necessary information and priorities established, actual ads can now be generated. It will generally make the most sense to assign particular vehicles to categories that suit established buyer profiles. Enticing calls to action, pictures, tracking parameters, and other details will need to be added and managed, as well.
- Updating. As a dealership’s inventory evolves, it will be necessary to ensure that ads are adjusted accordingly. New listings will need to be created for vehicles that have recently been acquired, and these will need to be assigned priorities of their own. Cars and trucks that have been sold must be removed from the system entirely, and any such adjustment could necessitate a recalculation of existing listing priorities.
- Optimization. While all the preceding work will always be important, only by constantly striving to optimize Facebook Ads spending can the best possible return on investment be realized. That will mean needing to stay on top of the performance of particular listings and redirecting spending as appropriate. New and more effective ways of targeting will also become apparent as more results are analyzed.
As might be expected, it will generally take quite a bit of work to keep up with these five fundamentally important activities. Needless to say, time and effort devoted to these types of duties, however important, effectively adds to the cost of using Facebook Ads for independent car dealers. That simple fact is part of what has kept so many dealers tied solely to Google AdWords, even as costs and competition there have increased so much.
Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Other Types of Technology to the Rescue
Managing a Facebook Ads campaign by hand might well be too much for most independent auto dealers to contemplate. Fortunately, there are now technological solutions that essentially eliminate the manpower-related costs traditionally associated with this type of work. In fact, the Facebook Ads program, as best used by car dealers, makes for a close fit with a powerful and increasingly common combination of technological approaches:
- Automation can be used to carry out nearly all of the many routine tasks needed to keep various sources of information up to date and synchronized with one another. Most dealers already maintain current inventory listings at their websites, and software tools can parse VDPs or other data sources and extract all the relevant information. Facebook’s application programming interfaces (API) are also ready to provide information directly to authorized, software-based systems. Instead of dealership employees spending costly time, over and over again, on updating, reconciling, and editing information, software-enabled automation can do the same at virtually no marginal cost.
- Artificial intelligence (AI) can take the place of many of the relatively routine judgments and even certain creative leaps that staff members would otherwise be making when managing Facebook Ads. A suitably trained AI will not only recognize when a top-performing ad merits more spending, it can scale the adjustment according to a dealership’s current inventory and other factors. AI can even be used to turn out compelling ad copy that motivates highly qualified Facebook users to click. With AI adding important new dimensions to the automation of repetitive tasks, a truly well-rounded, hands-free way for dealerships to manage Facebook Ads campaigns results.
Combining these two individually powerful types of technology in appropriate ways turns out to be much of what it takes to allow independent auto dealers to make the most of the impressive potential of Facebook Ads. Solutions like the Micc Group’s Optimum Dealer© platform are even now proving this in practice.
Precise Targeting and Low Costs Make Facebook Ads the Clear Choice
Being able to deliver hyper-targeted vehicle ads to in-market Facebook users is an undeniably powerful tool. Many independent dealers who have looked into the situation in the past have come away convinced that there was a wealth of potential in that program.
What kept the vast majority from actually making the leap was the realization that achieving such precise targeting by manual means would require a great deal of work and ongoing attention. Even where the other numbers looked impressive, the costs associated with staying on top of all the associated duties were such that most dealers kept plugging away at Google AdWords.
That no longer needs to be the default reaction at all. Software solutions that leverage artificial intelligence and enable end-to-end automation can make Facebook Ads clearly superior to AdWords in every conceivable respect.
Independent auto dealers who make the leap can count on receiving far more visits to their VDPs from qualified local buyers who plan to purchase soon. All of this high-quality traffic not only translates into more sales, it will also cost much less than using Google AdWords. Now that the tools required for truly hands-off, hyper-targeted Facebook Ads are available, every independent auto dealer will do well to start looking into this option.
To learn more about Optimum Dealer© by The Micc Group, download our FREE E-book HERE