facebook announces changes to MARKETPLACE LISTINGS intended to empower dealerships and limit third-party marketplaces
Facebook announced today 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.
“On September 13, 2021, Marketplace will discontinue the distribution of vehicle, home rentals, and homes for sale listings from partner catalog feeds. Listings provided to Facebook via partner catalogs will not be displayed on Marketplace, including the homepage, category pages, browse experience or in search results.”
So, what does that mean?
As of September 13th, 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 US say that the idea of buying a car completely over the internet seems like a realistic option.
- Additionally, 72% of people surveyed in the US 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.
What does this all mean to dealerships?
Ultimately, change and disruption also means opportunity. If you read this announcement as doom-and-gloom, you may have missed the point. Savvy dealerships and agency partners that learn to adopt to Facebook’s new tools have the opportunity to be on the leading edge of their vision of the future of car sales – and the goal is still to sell cars.
Ever since websites were websites and Facebook was Facebook the goal was to send buyers from Facebook to dealer websites. Facebook wants to help you sell cars, but they want to keep buyers on Facebook. So dealers need to start thinking about how their customer journeys – and their internal BDC processes – can be reimagined on Facebook alone.
There are a few things can start doing now to prepare for this change.
1. Take advantage of the INVENTORY TAB
Facebook has released a new Inventory Tab that allows you or your agency partner to automatically create listings for your inventory on your Facebook Page (as opposed to automatically creating Marketplace listings). You can still manually create Marketplace listings form your Inventory Tab listing, but the goal is let Facebook exist as a digital showroom in the same way your website does.
Now if you’re wondering how to get your inventory into the new Inventory Tab, we can help. VinCue is built on top of the industry’s largest database of vehicle and transaction data aggregated from over 45k dealerships daily. Whether you’re a VinCue customer, vAuto customer, or using any other IMS customer, we can maintain your Facebook catalog and Inventory Tab for you.
2. Only Push High-Value Marketplace Listings
Facebook is still allowing you to create Marketplace Listings for inventory, just one-at-a-time and manually. Yea that’s not a lot of fun and if you were paying someone to push all your inventory for you, you’re probably really annoyed. But consider it an opportunity to dig into what has been your most popular and profitable inventory in Marketplace and train your team to focus on those price or type categories. It’s not that much work and you’ll prioritize inventory you know will sell.
If you’re using an agency partner, you should be asking them for this data. If they can’t, or if you don’t have a partner and don’t know how to determine which vehicles you should be pushing, VinCue can help here, too. With VinCue Ads™, we supply detailed attribution for every lead starting with the source – meaning we can tell you which vehicles will perform better in the Marketplace.
3. Use More Automotive Inventory ads
In the midst of the changes around Marketplace, Facebook has also (less recently) released Automotive Offer/Inventory Ads (AIA), a dynamic ad type that pulls inventory images, descriptions, and even offers from your inventory catalog to create targeted ads for active shoppers. These ads can be placed in the Marketplace and in News Feeds, as well as other Facebook locations like Instagram.
The new ads are intended to offer more control and better placement options for your inventory, but as with all new tools there will be a learning curve. We recommend working with an agency partner to make sure you’re taking full advantage. If you don’t have an agency partner, you might consider VinCue Ads™ – a lightweight but powerful ads automation solution that is already placing ads using AIA.
4. Ditch Lead Forms, Embrace Messenger
If your BDC or sales team isn’t already plugged into Facebook/Instagram Messenger, now is the time. The end-goal for Facebook is to own all interactions so our advice is roll with it. Find a good technology partner, define some processes, and get your people used to talking with Facebook consumers.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to have BDC agents sitting on your Facebook page answering chats. There are a ton of great tools that will let you manage these chats in one place, and if you’re a VinCue customer – you guessed it – we can help you there, too.
5. Adjust budgets to prioritize facebook
We’re not here to say that Facebook is going to become the predominant digital platform to reach automotive buyers, but we’re also not not saying that. It’s going to be a long road, but Facebook is going to be a good long-term bet when it comes to investing in ads, integrations, and business development.
So that's it, right?
Not entirely. What we haven’t even begun to touch on is the impacts of iOS 14 and Google’s impending decision on cookies. The biggest elephant in the room that you need to start working with your partners on now is audience targeting.
VinCue isn’t an advertising agency, but our product VinCue Ads™ (AdCue) is a digital advertising platform. Our value proposition has always been twofold: make it easier for dealers to dynamically create and run their own ads to rely less on agencies; and to automatically target buyers in your market that are most likely be shopping.
The changes to pixel tracking with iOS 14 and Cookie tracking from Google is going to make it more difficult to track and retarget buyers from your website. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, you just need to think creatively about how to use the data you have and the data Facebook does offer you.
If you’re interested in learning more about how we are responding to this challenge for our VinCue Ads™ we’d love to give you a demo. Otherwise, make sure you’re having this conversation internally or with your advertising partners.