Even as GM abandons Facebook advertising because of a poor ROI, Ford is going full steam ahead with Facebook spending and including more “sponsored stories” – i.e. cheesy advertorial content – as part of their “accelerated” spending. The problem is that it doesn’t work.
Ford’s social media head Scott Monty told Automotive News
“We’ve found that Facebook ads are very effective, and they’re most effective when we strategically combine them with great content and innovative forms of storytelling rather than a straight media buy,”
As we’ve seen with Ford before, lots of clicks, likes and other vague metrics under the vague “impressions” umbrella end up doing dick all to actually sell your product. The only Fiesta Movement occurring is a downward trend in sales, while the Focus lags behind Corolla, Cruze and Civic in its own segment.
I’d wager that based on the piss-poor numbers for Facebook ad click rates, the ability for internet-savvy users to block out advertising and the overall cynicism of consumers for even the most elaborate, narrative-driven advertising, that Ford is mis-allocating their ad dollars on Facebook, and with canned-advertorial reality shows like
what were they thinking Escape Routes, a new reality show designed to promote the 2013 Escape. Who in their right mind is going to spend half an hour watching this show? Take that money and find a way to go to every supermarket in areas where a small crossover is in demand (hint, they have Obama-Biden stickers on their CR-Vs) and let them know what you can open the tailgate by sweeping your foot under the bumper. More likely, it seems that these initiatives, undertaken by a number of OEMs beyond Ford, are what Ray Wert described as
Let’s go back to the Fiesta. Sales are in the toilet. Yet Ford seems enthralled with their apparently cutting edge marketing scheme that got 3.4 million Twitter “impressions” and 6.5 million collective Youtube views between the 700 videos produced by their team of 100 agents. To put that in perspective, a friend of mine directed a video for a B-List rapper who was a one-hit viral video wonder and it currently has 34 million views with basically zero promotional budget. By comparison, the number of views for the Fiesta Movement videos is laughable.
Any success that comes from Ford’s latest products will be in spite of whatever social media campaigns they end up running. Nothing short of shrewd product placement or simply having your vehicle out on the street will be truly effective in promoting the new Escape, or Fusion or any car really. A 110 x 100 pixel ad featuring a thumbnail image of a car and 90 characters of text isn’t going to snare anyone in, no matter how gripping the “story” about the car may be. Leaving a 2013 Fusion parked in a prime spot somewhere downtown and letting pedestrians do a double take to stop and look at “that four-door Aston…no, wait, it’s a Ford” costs $15 in parking fees and is sure to get them talking. Even if they don’t like cars, they know someone who does, and they will ask about “that new car I saw on the street”. I can tell you anecdotally that it happens all the time. It’s not worth much, but it’s worth more than a few million “impressions”.