Why Facebook Ads Are No Longer Optional

A couple of times a month, a client will reach out to us and ask which is better for driving traffic, leads and sales – Google Ads or Facebook Ads? It’s a fair question to ask, but it’s also akin to asking, which is more important to your personal survival, food or water? *Spoilers* the answer to each of those questions is “Both!”.

The question, which is better?, is making the assumption that both Google Ads and Facebook Ads are essentially the same. And because dealership marketing budgets aren’t infinite, one has to choose which of the two platforms to advertise on.

The reality is Google and Facebook serve two very different purposes. By choosing not to advertise on one of the two means you’re missing the opportunity to have your marketing connect with a large portion of auto shoppers.

While understanding how Google and Facebook each help you reach local car shoppers in their own specific way, there’s been a recent change to Facebook advertising that truly makes it a necessity.

Before I dive into that, let me show you how Google and Facebook are entirely different beasts.


Google Ads = Active Intent

I like to think of Google as a Question & Answer machine, instead of a search engine. If you think about it, it makes sense. No matter what you type in the search box, you’re essentially asking a question and expecting Google to return the best answer(s) suited to your question.

No matter what type of question you have for Google, it will fall into one of these four active intent moments:

  • I want to know: A vast majority of queries entered into Google are simple quests for knowledge. Whether it’s How old was Mark Hamill when Star Wars Came Out? – or – How much does the 2019 Chevy Trailblazer cost? the intent behind the query is the same. You have a question, and you’re turning to Google for the answer.
  • I want to go: This intent is pretty straightforward as well. Whether you’re trying to figure out how long it would take you to drive from Chicago to San Francisco or where you can find a Chevy Dealership Near Me, the I want to go search intent is all about discovering how to get from A to B.
  • I want to do: Millions of hours of “how-to” style content will be watched on YouTube this year. Google estimates that 91% of smartphone users will turn to their phones when doing a task (this number jumps to 137% when assembling Ikea furniture). When you need some expert advice to discover how to connect your iPhone to your new ride, you’re only a quick search away.
  • I want to buy:  And of course, Google is the starting point for many shoppers regardless of what they’re shopping for. From cat food to Camry’s, Google can get your connected with the places online where you can discover, research and buy whatever it is you’re interested in. Even cars!

So just to recap, advertising on Google puts you in front of a massive audience of car shoppers who are actively using search to learn more about a vehicle, visit a dealership near them or take the next step towards buying their next vehicle.


Facebook Ads = Passive Discovery

Creating Facebook AdsAdvertising on Facebook (and by extension Instagram) is the exact opposite of advertising on Google. Where Google is all about active intent, Facebook is all about passive discovery.

Even though Facebook has a pretty deep knowledge graph of it’s own that can be searched, people just don’t use Facebook that way. People don’t go to Facebook to actively search for the best taco restaurants in Royal Oak and they don’t look for a Honda dealer near me – that’s what Google is for.

Let’s be honest here…just between us…we go to Facebook and Instagram to zone out for a few. Maybe catch up with some pals and make plans for the weekend, or to get lost in a stream of adorable puppy videos. Whatever our guilty pleasure is, we’re not opening up these apps with any kind of high intent behavior.

What makes the Facebook ecosystem such an attractive medium to advertise on is the flexibility you have with ad formats and the ability to target users in a defined area who meet very specific criteria. So while people are passively scrolling through their feed, you can capture the attention of a local, in-market car shopper with a relevant ad, allowing them to discover (or re-discover) your dealership.

When you choose not to advertise on Facebook, you’re missing out on grabbing the attention of consumers who are going to be buying a car in the very near future.


How Can You NOT Act On This Intel?!

How To Access Facebook Info and Ads TabI wrote all of that above, just so I could tell you the real reason why advertising on Facebook shouldn’t be considered an option, but should be considered just as important as advertising on Google.

In August of 2018, in the name of transparency and in the light of multiple scandals, Facebook made it so that any Facebook user could see the ads that any Facebook page is currently running.

The unintended consequence of pulling back the curtain means that you can now see if, and what, your nearest competitors are advertising on Facebook. And conversely, your competitors can now see exactly what you’re advertising on Facebook too.

To see what ads any Facebook Page is currently running, simply visit their page and click/tap the “Info & Ads” section, then select the “Active Ads” tab. Please note that while you can see the ads, Facebook does not tell you the targeting nor the budget.

Having this kind of visibility into what your competitors are, or aren’t doing, is huge for two reasons:

  1. If your nearest same brand competitors AREN’T running Facebook ads, you have the opportunity to create ads targeted to car shoppers right in your competitors backyard.
  2. If YOU aren’t running Facebook ads, and discover that your competitors are, then again it’s imperative that you start advertising on Facebook to capture the attention of your own in-market shoppers while preventing the lure of the competition at the same time.

No matter which of these scenarios you fall under at your dealership, there is no reason to not advertise on Facebook. You’ll either be expanding your reach to conquest shoppers who may not have discovered you yet or you’ll be building upon your own brand awareness with shoppers in your own backyard.


But Does Facebook Advertising Work?

If you haven’t advertised on Facebook before, you’re probably looking for some reassurance that you’ll get results. Don’t sweat it, we have you covered!

LaFontaine Cadillac Buick GMC has been seeing great success with their most recent Facebook Campaign over the past 45 days. By using engaging carousel ads targeting a mix of audiences – from higher-funnel consideration down to low-funnel active shoppers – their cost per lead was 45% lower than their paid search and display campaigns over the same period.

For our friends at Walser Polar Chevrolet, we took advantage of Facebook’s Automotive Inventory ad unit that retargeted their website visitors as they were engaged on Facebook. During a recent 45 day period, the website VDP views Walser Polar’s Facebook ad with dynamic inventory generated came at a cost 95% cheaper than other paid channels.

So not only is advertising effective on Facebook, often times you get more for your money compared to advertising on Google. But remember, this isn’t an either/or scenario. Facebook and Google work together to drive results for your dealership.

We’d love to help you take your Facebook ad game to the next level. Drop us a line and someone from our team will connect with you to go over the best plan of attack and provide budget recommendations for your campaigns.

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Cara Garvey
Cara brings in-depth technical digital advertising knowledge to her team and our dealer partners, innovating every day with new paid search strategies and FUEL℠ features. Cara began at DI as a Paid Search Specialist and quickly grew into a leader, managing the entire team and all digital advertising efforts for our dealer partners. Outside of work, she loves dogs and spending time with her husband Mark. She combines those passions by taking him to a dog park on Saturday mornings, even though they don't have a dog, which has caused several awkward interactions when people ask "which is yours?"

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