Facebook exec says network has untapped potential to influence car shoppers

Kass Dawson, Facebook's head of automotive strategy, says with digital advertising, there is no "prime time" to reach audiences. Photo credit: GLENN TRIEST

DETROIT -- There's an opening for automakers to boost brand consideration on Facebook within the sea of vacation photos and witty status updates.

With car shoppers spending more time online scouting their next purchases and less in dealerships, a new comScore study shows automotive marketing campaigns on Facebook can influence people to consider the brands/vehicles being pushed while sapping consideration for competing manufacturers. comScore is a Reston, Va.-based digital analytics company.

Kass Dawson, Facebook's head of automotive strategy, highlighted the study during the Automotive News World Congress on Wednesday.

Dawson said automakers and dealerships can leverage Facebook to reach the audiences that matter to them on the massive social network, which has 1.19 billion users. Dawson said marketers can target the exact people most likely to respond to their messaging.

With digital advertising, Dawson said there is no "prime time" to reach audiences. Prime time, he says, is all the time.

"It's not just that those people are there, it's the fact we are understanding what it is they're talking about [and] what their interests are [that] ultimately helps us make sure we are putting campaigns in front of the right people so that message is getting across and you're getting your message in front of people that are going to act," said Dawson, who worked at Mercedes-Benz for 10 years.

The Action Lift study found that brand website visits increased 37 percent during the campaigns, with search traffic on engines such as Google and Yahoo rising 11 percent. Visits to brand-affiliated model pages jumped 50 percent.

In contrast, brand Web searches for competitors fell 3 percent while searches for specific models dropped 14 percent.

The Facebook-commissioned research looked at five major automotive campaigns on the social network between May and August 2013.

You can reach Vince Bond Jr. at vbond@crain.com -- Follow Vince on Twitter: @VinceBond86