The Netflix documentary “The Social Dilemma” is raising many eyebrows for people that are unfamiliar with how and why companies have been collecting and using social media data for marketing purposes. I’ll admit – after watching it, I felt uncomfortable, and I felt like I needed to voice my thoughts and feelings on the subject as someone that has worked in digital marketing and has been using Facebook advertising since its inception.

Who am I?

My name is Brian West and I am a Senior Social Strategist at Dealer Authority. I have been with our agency for over 6 years. I joined the ranks of digital marketing at age 18, handling social media for various public figures and musicians. From there, I transferred over into the Automotive Industry, plunging headlong into the intriguing world of digital marketing for Automotive.

Why is third-party data important?

Third-party data is simply this as described by Facebook, “Third-party data companies offer purchase data – like brand preferences and shopping habits – to advertisers so they can target their brands to high-interest users and households.”

First and foremost, the use of third-party data can and should be used ethically. The term “third-party data” alone can conjure images of shady people in dark rooms hacking and mining information from user accounts. The reality is, it’s just a way we can better serve our clients and customers with better advertising and hyper-focused targeting when used correctly.

As more and more artificial intelligence is entering into the world, more and more emotional intelligence must enter into leadership.” 

— Amit Ray | AI Scientist and Author | Compassionate Artificial Intelligence

How is data used at Dealer Authority?

Dealer Authority participates in third-party data that is used in our clients’ Facebook and Instagram campaigns. This ensures that we are not serving a Honda ad to someone that has no interest or shopping patterns that involves the Honda brand. By doing this, we are maximizing our client’s budgets and increases their return on investment of their social media ads.

Let’s continue with the Honda example. I use third-party data to create an audience for an ad that includes you, who currently owns a Honda Accord. You’ve been a loyal Honda owner for decades, and you’re in the market for a new one soon. I use this ethically sourced data to place advertisements on your Facebook feed showing new Accord models for sale in your area and current special offers. Zero artificial intelligence, zero syndicated content, zero misdirection. Just simple advertising that genuinely converts. You are receiving this ad because of your past purchase and engagement history with the Honda brand.

Some of the most common targeting parameters we prefer to use for dealers that generate the best results include credit scores, make and model, household income, buying patterns, and lifestyle choices. 

The Power of Drip Marketing

Dealer Authority took the idea of high-targeted ad campaigns to another level by adding our exclusive Drip Marketing to our solution set. With Drip, we go beyond third-party data and launch a specific series of advertisements based on ways customers interact with ads and your website.

For example, we create a campaign to target in-market Ford F-150 shoppers with standard third-party data. Those customers are served an ad. They have two choices, right? They can either tap the ad and view inventory or they can totally ignore it. That gives us the opportunity to know exactly how interested or uninterested they are in actually purchasing a vehicle at this moment in time. If they tap the ad, they’re served a new ad that gently nudges them further down the funnel to encourage them to either value their trade, learn more about current offers and incentives, or even find out why they should purchase from the dealership showing them the ad in the first place and not the competition. This (again) cuts out artificial intelligence and gives us the opportunity as human beings to analyze Facebook metrics and Google Analytics to know exactly how, when, and why customers are interacting with specific sets of hyper-targeted advertisements on their timeline. 

Humans Create Ads that Convert

In all of my years working in digital marketing, there has never been a need for AI in building ads for clients. Humans create ads that convert. Humans write SEO landing pages that are compelling. While AI can fill in the gaps for our social media data targeting needs, I have always preferred the human touch. Customers can tell when they’re chatting with a bot – bots don’t understand simple requests, and 99% of the questions people have about what you’re offering are pretty simple. So why not just have a human manage that conversation? 

The best advice I can give you is to hire a digital marketing agency for your business that doesn’t rely on automation to produce results: zero syndication, zero unethical use of data, and only quality conversations between humans. Chatbots aren’t what your customers want. AI isn’t what your business needs. Trust the experts, like us, to ethically build social media ads that convert to sales, not cache customer information.


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