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Special Project

Special Project
From the 9th Annual Shorty Awards

Capitalizing on Consumer Shopping Shifts: Social Media Drives Dealership Visits

Entered in Auto, Facebook


Reconciling corporate and local marketing objectives is a challenging proposition in the automotive industry. It's difficult to find strategies that allow the brand to support massive numbers of local dealerships without risking conflicts, tying up extensive resources, or creating inefficient complexity.

For this campaign, Cadillac wanted to implement a national, scalable, customer-centric awareness campaign that would provide results at the local level. The goal was to integrate Cadillac products and nearby dealerships into the target audience's existing Facebook experience, and ultimately drive prospective buyers to visit dealerships where they could interact with trained sales staff and experience the vehicles first hand.

By leveraging Facebook's new Store Visits ad technology, Cadillac launch a nationwide awareness campaign that successfully drove dealership visits, and which allowed for direct attribution of visits back to customer visibility with the social ads.

In addition, they wanted to build a strategy that would allow for more accurate measurement via more sophisticated attribution. Since the typical sales cycle for an automotive purchase can run as long as five years, it's important for Cadillac to have insight into not just the first- and last-touch attributions, but to understand the influence of all touchpoints in the customer journey and to be able to demonstrate the value of specific campaigns to the dealerships in numbers they can understand.

Strategy and Execution

The team was able to identify and profile Cadillac's most valuable consumer: the "Next Generation Luxe" (NGL) audience, a consumer with a strong affinity for digital media. Though all audiences are spending more time on mobile devices, the NGL audience is particularly well versed in media, able to confidently navigate across channels, and consumes content on their own terms. Based on this, the team knew it was imperative to design a non-intrusive, mobile-first approach featuring timely and relevant messaging. In addition to being digital natives, the NGL audience is also more active than most on social apps.

We also considered the current shift in how consumers shop for new vehicles. Broad and ubiquitous access to information has created a marketplace in which consumers typically do the majority of their research online (55%) and only visit one or two dealerships before making a purchase.

Until recently, the role of social media advertising has been very formulaic, but iProspect's close working relationship with Facebook - a social platform that was a good fit for the NGL audience - provided the team with access to emerging tools that gave Cadillac a first-to-market opportunity. Cadillac was invited to partner with Facebook as the first in the automotive industry to run Store Visits Alpha ads. The ads, served to consumers when they cross within a pre-determined radius of a local dealership, include the dealership name and location and the option to click into a Maps app to load directions. Store Visits metric - the first of its kind in the social space - provides unique targeting and tracking parameters while still providing the user full control over opt-in as well as added convenience in their purchase journey.

The campaign also demonstrated the team's ability to design and implement a highly scalable and highly cost-effective solution that helped Cadillac address the ubiquitous challenge of reconciling corporate-level and local marketing goals. While most campaigns aimed at supporting dealerships require an enormous investment in terms of infrastructure and man hours, this entire campaign was launched and managed by one person on the paid social team.


The campaign successfully achieved its primary goals of creating awareness and driving consumers to dealerships. Perhaps more importantly, the campaign also afforded Cadillac a way to clearly prove the value of paid social to dealership managers. It was easier for dealers to understand the value and efficacy of the effort in their own terms.

Over three-weeks; across 886 Cadillac dealerships nationwide, the Cadillac Store Visits ads reached more than 7.7M unique people. The number of Store Visits was then tracked across four different attribution methods. The Store Visits campaign correlated 392,106 visits within 7 days of viewing an ad. Users who clicked on an ad were correlated with 7,434 store visits within 7 days and 1,282 visits within 1 day.

The most interesting result, however, was the 7-Day Attention attribution. Attention measures the thumb-stop moments when a user spends more time with an ad than they typically do with other content they see on Facebook. This metric indicates intent to engage with Cadillac.

Based on users who registered an "Attention" metric, 84,096 visited dealer locations within 7 days! To Cadillac, this means that there was an audience who took significant notice, despite not always clicking on the ad, then made their way to a dealer to experience the Cadillac brand.

The team will evolve the Store Visits campaign to focus on in-market consumers who are qualified to make a purchase. The steady support will drive dealership visits from people who are ready to make their next car a Cadillac.


Entrant Company / Organization Name

iProspect, Carat, Cadillac

Entry Credits