Last year, General Motors made headlines when it said it would stop advertising from Facebook because of a lack of results. GM has since returned as a Facebook advertiser with a campaign promoting the Chevrolet Sonic earlier this year, but the social network wants to dispel any perception that it’s not an effective platform for selling cars.
In that vein, the company on Wednesday released research indicating that automotive campaigns on Facebook lead more people to consider the brands and models advertised, while also pushing down consideration of competitors.
The custom study, conducted by comScore and commissioned by Facebook, analyzed five major auto campaigns on Facebook between May and August 2013. By comparing a test and control group, it examined how the campaigns drove incremental lift in vehicle consideration in terms of site visits and search activity.
The analysis showed that visits to the auto brand sites increased 37% and page views 38% among those who saw the ads that ran across desktop and mobile. Model page visits and page views rose 50% and 46%, respectively. Furthermore, brand page visits from auto-focused sites increased 17%, while brand search activity grew 11%. Conversely, competitive brand and model searches fell 3% and 14%, respectively.
Facebook did not disclose the specific brands or models involved in the study.
Kass Dawson, head of automotive strategy at Facebook, stated in a blog post today that the study "shines a spotlight on how Facebook influences mid-funnel behavior and demonstrates that automotive ads on Facebook make your overall campaigns work harder."
She also highlighted the results in a presentation at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit. In November, it hired Michelle Morris, Google’s former auto industry director, to help lead that effort from Facebook’s Detroit office.
During Facebook’s third-quarter conference call, COO Sheryl Sandberg acknowledged that auto has not historically been a strong ad category for the company. She cited a recent campaign for the Alfa Romeo 4C, giving users the chance to test drive the sports car with A Formula One driver, as an example of how Facebook is making inroads in the category “client-by-client.”
The company says it works with every top auto brand, including Hyundai, Nissan, Volkswagen, Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota and Subaru in the U.S. With its rollout of partner categories last year, Facebook last year gave marketers the ability to direct ads to in-market auto shoppers for specific car makes and models.