Ford Ramps Up Facebook Ads In An Effort To Be "Social", BUYS ALL THE AD SPACE

Derek Kreindler
by Derek Kreindler
ford ramps up facebook ads in an effort to be social buys all the ad space

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.

In 2009, Jalopnik nailed it when it asked if all of Ford’s resources spent on social media and their SM guru Scott Monty really helped sell any cars.

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 [s]what were they thinking[/s] 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

“…another example of the dark side of “social media” — the masturbatory echo chamber re-twitting the same tweets …of the same piece of garbage over and over again to the same social media “gurus.”

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”.

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  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on May 16, 2012

    Can we get another GM motorama? Traveling advertising live shows would probably stun and shock the computer jaded over stimulated people of today. Probably end up being money better spent and end up with more sales per ad dollar. Just arrange these types of things on weekends at shopping malls around the USA.

  • Trucky McTruckface Trucky McTruckface on May 16, 2012

    Ford's marketing is remarkably tone deaf. The whole Fiesta Movement thing was a bust, yet they are apparently doubling down on social media. The interminable Mike Rowe ads are cheesy and embarrassing; You can't manufacturer good word of mouth like that, let the cars speak for themselves. Then there's Lincoln...yikes. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Ford's becoming a victim of its own hype. They have made great strides in the last decade with solid, reliable, class-competitive and - gasp - conservative cars. Now they're dead set on frittering that all away in an effort to be seen as the tragically hip, techy Eurosnob brand. That plan is a disaster in the making. Much to the dismay of enthusiasts, vanilla sells, and that's why the new Camry is absolutely everywhere these days - without rental barcodes in the back window, no less. Traditional Ford buyers may well be turned off by the new look and feel, while the hipster market probably won't want to wade through acres of F-150s and sales bubbas to look at a supposed VW or Subaru alternative. GM, for their part seems to have made the right call with the Cruze by sticking to (massive amounts of) traditional advertising and blatant product placement. A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in awhile.

    • Highdesertcat Highdesertcat on May 17, 2012

      By doubling down on social media maybe they hope to develop a potential buyer by repetitiveness or by implanting subliminal images that subconsciously trigger recognition when the potential buyer sees that product on the street in the real world.

  • ToolGuy Silhouetting yourself on a ridge like that is an excellent way to get yourself shot ( Skylining)."Don't you know there's a special military operation on?"
  • ToolGuy When Farley says “like the Millennium Falcon” he means "fully updatable" and "constantly improving" -- it's right there in the Car and Driver article (and makes perfect sense).
  • Master Baiter New slogan in the age of Ford EVs:FoundOnRoadDischarged
  • Albert Also owned a 1959 Continental Mark IV coupe for 20 years and loved every minute!
  • ToolGuy You coulda said "Jeep Tomahawks Cherokee" -- just sayin.