COVID-19 Update: One Dealer Sees Great Results with Facebook Ads

By Desiree Homer

As dealers continue to carve out their advertising budgets in this new, post-COVID-19 environment, many are shifting to online channels. They’re venturing away from hefty traditional ad spends with radio and television, to drive a more robust presence online. One dealership in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in particular, is leveraging the mass reach and frequency of Facebook advertising. And it’s working in a big way.

The Power Ford Testimonial

In a best practices segment of Automotive News, Power Ford of Albuquerque shares its data and success with Facebook advertising. The dealership had already begun to shift marketing budgets to heavy-up on more online and mobile-friendly efforts back in 2017. They partnered with a vendor to help manage online ads and data analysis, Dealers United. Power Ford began dipping its toe in paying for targeted ads, featuring vehicles for sale, to consumers in the market that fit the buyer profiles. The Power Ford ad would essentially pop up in news feeds and according to consumer search histories.

This move to digital ads has more than paid off and, in today’s economic climate, proven to be a strategic advantage for Power Ford. Before the virus changed the industry, the dealership showed 8% increases in sales, despite a 3.2% market decline in the Albuquerque area. The added bonus was this ad budget for Facebook was 20% less than the retailer’s traditional spending. Spending less and selling more in a slow market is an absolute win, no matter how you look at it.

A Good Idea Then, An Even Better Idea Now

Power Ford sold 1,576 new vehicles in 2019. It’s also now positioned as the top-selling Ford retailer in New Mexico for two years running, including recent months. The dealer’s data suggests that more than half of its successful sales were with customers who saw or clicked on the social media ad. There were plenty of potential customers looking for virtual browsing options last year. But 2020 is proving to emerge with an online buying necessity. Social media is always an impressive channel to reach potential customers. However, it may become the primary platform for reaching and connecting in the months and years to come.

Data & Analytics in Advertising

Dealers United CEO Pete Peterson shared that Facebook’s analytics can be far more effective than traditional reach and frequency guesswork of radio and television. “You have to adapt to the times,” he says and goes on to discuss matching the right message to various customers within the platform they spend the most time-consuming information. The other benefits include affordability and having the data to verify which campaigns are working and which are not. Traditional ad buys would often provide a wait and see approach to results. Seeing how many views, clicks, and conversions with online ads can be a game-changer in ROI.

You may have already made some transition to online advertising and social media ad buys. But for those dealers still hesitant to move away from the local radio station or favorite TV commercials, it might be time to reconsider. The pandemic has shifted how and where consumers start and pursue their buying preferences. What used to work last year may not be as effective today. Capturing market share and spending less is critical as dealers push to reopen and re-engage. Automotive industry leader, Mario Murgado talks about not relying on the past, in a recent Dealer News Today podcast. He says, “Way too often, we rely on the past to make decisions. Well, you can’t do that anymore.” And at least for one dealership in New Mexico, it couldn’t ring truer.