Facebook announced recently new features and changes to automotive advertising that are intended to empower auto dealers, reduce reliance on other third-party marketplaces and ultimately improve the end-user experience by connecting buyers more directly with dealerships.
The biggest change is that Facebook Marketplace Partners will no longer be able to push inventory into the Facebook Marketplace using a catalog (feed). More on that below, but this isn’t the only change that is impacting digital advertising.
Later this year, changes in iOS14 will all but eliminate the ability for dealerships to track and retarget mobile website visitors — nearly 95% of all web traffic. If that wasn’t enough, Google may also be eliminating cookies later this year, impacting analytics and ads.
Combined, these changes will quickly and dramatically change the way dealerships can target potential buyers, manage digital advertising, generate digital leads and attribute sales. While there are certainly new challenges that will need to be overcome, there is also enormous opportunity for savvy dealers and partners willing to adapt.
So, What Does This Mean?
As of Sept. 13, 2021, automotive Facebook Marketplace Listing Partners will no longer be able to push their inventory catalogs into the Facebook Marketplace as listings. This creates new challenges but also offers a couple of benefits for the industry, specifically dealerships and consumers.
First, some dealerships that are using these kinds of partners may be creating parallel Marketplace listings, which can lead to duplicate inventory across the Marketplace, confusing buyers and making attribution difficult. Further, third-party advertisers can claim credit and charge more for leads that could have been attributed directly to the dealership.
Additionally, this change forces all dealerships to play the same game regardless of budget or partnerships. This may be frustrating for some dealerships that rely on their partners to manage their listings this way, but for other dealerships and smaller partners it equalizes the Marketplace for everyone.
Do We Know Why Facebook Cares?
Data and user engagement, full stop. Facebook has big plans to increase commerce on their platform as a way to keep users, businesses and dollars on Facebook. On top of that, they know they can pull it off.
• A recent Facebook study revealed that 57% of new car buyers in the U.S. say that the idea of buying a car completely over the internet seems like a realistic option.
• Additionally, 72% of people surveyed in the U.S. are comfortable understanding all the options and features available without a visit to the dealership.
Third-party marketplaces have tried to consolidate access to buyers and transactions for years with limited success but rarely to your benefit. Facebook is better positioned to capitalize on the changing landscape of auto sales because they already have the attention of users — and unlimited resources.
The good news for dealers and agency partners is that Facebook’s real interest isn’t just sucking ad budgets out of dealerships. They want to create positive experiences that keep users on Facebook — and the best way to do that is to make it easy for consumers and businesses to do business on the site.
Perhaps Facebook isn’t a full ally, but our interests are certainly aligned — and dealerships stand to gain most from competition between Facebook and third-party marketplaces.
In Part 2 of this article, I’ll discuss what this all means to dealerships and provide a few things dealers can start doing now to prepare for this change.