Study: Facebook Ads Influence Car Shoppers Mid-Funnel

Research revs up social advertising narrative

Facebook has doggedly tried to prove its advertising mettle to automotive brands since General Motors famously yanked its paid budget in May 2012, only to return to the social platform about a year later. Today, the digital giant is releasing a study at the Automotive News World Congress in Detroit that suggests Facebook ads fuel brand consideration and meaningfully drive car shoppers to vehicle-specific Web pages.

The study was run by third-party researcher comScore and found that visits to car-model pages jump 50 percent due to Facebook ads, while total page views increase 46 percent on the product pages—meaning that the paid promos heighten time spent looking at specific vehicles, per the report. According to the study, Facebook ads lift visits to a car brand's larger Web site by 37 percent, while spiking total page views by 38 percent.

The comScore-led research also states that Facebook ads lift research activity at sites such as, and in terms of brand page visits (17 percent) and brand page views (19 percent). Additionally, the rate of repeat visits to brand pages at these kinds of sites increases 9 percent due to Facebook promos, says the report.

The study also suggests that an auto brand's rivals suffer when it utilizes Facebook advertisements. When an auto firm is running Facebook ads, its competitors' brand searches—across the Internet, including Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.—drop 3 percent while searches for their models plummet 14 percent, per the report. Meanwhile, when the auto company uses Facebook ads, its Internet-wide searches jump 10 percent, says the study.

The researcher says it examined five major automotive campaigns on Facebook that ran from May through August last year, and employed its huge consumer panel to compare those exposed to the ads (test) versus those that were not (control). The full report can be found here.

At any rate, while CEO Mark Zuckerberg & Co. aren't trying to claim the social platform literally walks people onto car lots, they do suggest their promos influence decisions in favor of their advertisers.

"This study shines a spotlight on how Facebook influences mid-funnel behavior and demonstrates that automotive ads on Facebook make your overall campaigns work harder," said Kass Dawson, head of automotive strategy with the Menlo Park, Calif.-based company.

Meanwhile, the data pitch generally jibes with an Interactive Advertising Bureau report earlier this week that found auto shoppers are 71 percent more likely to be influenced by digital ads compared to others. Of course, all of these entities—Facebook, comScore and the IAB—have a stake in advancing digital advertising.

That said, few people, if any, doubt that digital information has indeed significantly scaled back foot traffic to dealerships as folks increasingly use their computers and devices for car research. And with TV advertising likely declining in prowess due to cord cutters and program recorders, digital platforms such as Facebook, Google and Twitter seem fairly well-positioned to increasingly gain favor of Detroit brands over the long haul.

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