Edmunds Automates Social Ads For Car Dealers

Edmunds-social-dealer-adsAuto shopping publisher Edmunds built an agency-like service designed to help auto dealers reach in-market car buyers on Facebook and Instagram.

Car dealers set a budget and campaign parameters and an Edmunds sales rep enters the details into a Salesforce CRM system. That information gets sent to Facebook via API and the campaign goes live on Facebook.

Because dealers advertising with Edmunds already post all their listings on the classifieds site, Edmunds can use the existing creative assets to compile dynamic product ads featuring different car models.

Edmunds focused on Facebook properties instead of the open web because it liked Facebook’s tech and superior mobile ad design.

Edmunds originally planned to work with a DSP to do reach extension for dealers. But only one partner built APIs robust enough to support the level of automation Edmunds needed in order to reduce the costs of serving so many customers.

“We wanted a turnkey solution to support the thousands of dealers in our networks,” Qazi said.

After testing with the display-focused DSP, it realized mobile inventory quality on the open exchange wasn’t consistent.

This inconsistency was a problem because Edmunds wanted to concentrate its off-site buying on mobile, where dealers see increasing activity.

“Running standard IAB sizes isn’t the most compelling experience,” Qazi said. “Unless you are running through a private marketplace or know what inventory you are getting, mobile ad units are not very compelling.”

But Facebook’s API and the quality of its mobile ad unit enticed Edmunds to run its initial reach extension offering to dealers there. (Edumunds has run campaigns on the Facebook Audience Network to increase scale, but that’s not a standard part of the current offering.)

While some dealers may already be spending on Facebook, Edmunds is adding its first-party data to target campaigns and create lookalike audiences.

And in creating dynamic product listings and audiences on Facebook, it automates a “nontrivial task,” said Karim Qazi, VP of ad technology platforms and operations at Edmunds.

Car dealers measure the performance of Edmunds’ advertising by tracking the people arriving on their dealer website through Edmunds-placed ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Early results of a pilot program conducted in May and June of this year with dealer marketing tech company CDK showed that car dealers saw a 61% increase in new visitors to their sites, attributable both to Facebook and retargeting advertising on Edmunds.com. Site engagement increased 50%, indicating the program brought over qualified shoppers en masse.

But Edmunds is pushing Facebook, with whom it worked closely to develop the program, to ensure the ads drive engagements and conversions, Qazi said. Reducing latency is a big issue. Edmunds wants its creative-rich ads to load fast even when users aren’t on Wi-Fi networks, a challenge that Facebook is taking on, Qazi said.

Although Edmunds started with Facebook, which it considers a close partner, it doesn’t want to limit the offering to Facebook, nor is it against programmatic.

“We are constantly looking for ways to bring in other platforms to the Ad Solutions portfolio, as long as it’s optimized for mobile, it’s engaging, it performs and has the APIs to support us offering this at scale to thousands of dealer partners,” Qazi said.




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