Facebook – the U.S.-based social media giant – is trying to boost advertising from the car industry. This will be a massive challenge for the social networking site because consumer do not really like to buy cars online unlike shoes, pizza or movie tickets.
The opportunities to learn from each other have never been better: Sandberg
The social networking site, which has almost 2 billion users, is partnering with car making companies now. Recently, the Chief Operating Officer of the social media giant, Sheryl Sandberg, went to Detroit for the annual Facebook Automotive Summit. This was the first time that the COO of Facebook Inc. went to Detroit, which has hosted the Summit for over five times.
Early Tuesday, Sandberg was seen sharing the stage with Mary Barra, the Chief Executive Officer of General Motors Co., at a women’s-only event. Later on Thursday, the two women toured a factory and spoke with about 200 GM employees. Sandberg told around 400 auto-industry professionals at a downtown theater, “Our industries are converging. Detroit’s writing software and Silicon Valley is building hardware. The opportunities to learn from each other have never been better.”
There is not any direct path from a Facebook ad to a product purchase like in other industries but the social media company is able to show more engagement and prove the value of working together, said the COO of Facebook Inc. She gave an example saying that an ad for OnStar of General Motors targeted users who have the trademark little blue button of the service in their cars but the ad lacked a data plan. According to Sandberg, the campaign led to a 7% boost to data-plan sales.
Facebook COO friending GM, CEO friending Ford
This tour by Sandberg in Detroit was the second – at least we think so – in the recent five weeks for Facebook senior management. Before this, Mark Zuckerberg, the Chief Executive Officer of the social media giant, was seen visiting the headquarters of Ford Motors and an F-150 truck plant in April to talk with Executive Chairman Bill Ford.
Automakers have been using Facebook Live to broadcast video of vehicle unveilings that common people cannot attend, like Barra’s reveal of the electric Chevrolet Bolt at CES and 14 of the introductions at the Detroit auto show in January.
Automaker can use the Facebook Live for free to broadcast events and unveilings but they have to pay for promoting those videos in news feeds of users. Sandberg said, “We didn’t sell the cars. What we do is build the platform.” Debra Aho Williamson, senior analyst at EMarketer, told Bloomberg “The U.S. automotive industry is the second-largest spender on digital advertising behind retail. That makes it an enormously important target for Facebook.”