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6 Steps You Need to Set Up Facebook Automotive Ads

Many automotive companies struggle to deliver a modern and smooth car purchasing experience for their customers. But we already know that around 56% of car buyers use smartphones to get information about certain vehicles (Car Buyer Journey report)  before making a purchase. It's usually not a spontaneous decision. It takes a few weeks for buyers to consider the options and choose one vehicle.


According to Facebook's research, 49% of Western European shoppers who intend to buy vehicles think it is realistic to buy a car entirely online. That’s why Facebook Automotive Inventory Ads are becoming an increasingly powerful dealership marketing tool. They allow you to reach potential vehicle buyers quickly in their early buying stages and sell more. 


In this article, we would like to share with you what Facebook Automotive ads are, what the benefits of using them are, and how to implement them correctly. If you want to increase your dealership’s online visibility even more, you can check out our article on Google Automotive ads



What are Facebook Automotive Ads?

You can come across Facebook Automotive Ads under different names such as Automotive Inventory Ads (AIAs) or Dynamic Ads to Automotive Inventory.


They are similar to Facebook dynamic ads, but the main difference is that Facebook Automotive Ads focus exclusively on car sales. Facebook uses pixel or SDK to show ads to potential customers who are looking for vehicles on your website or app. Using this format you can advertise both new and used car inventory. 


You not only can target all shoppers who are likely to buy some cars, but also shoppers who know exactly what they're searching for. By typing in make, model or trim, potential customers can find a matching ideal vehicle that is displayed in your ad. You can include location details in your Facebook Automotive ads as well in case you want to focus on buyers living nearby.


Facebook Automotive ads are also dynamic. That's what makes them particularly useful for car dealers to retarget car shoppers. You can create tailored campaigns for your website visitors, showing the cars they’ve engaged with on your website, and other similar vehicles.


3 components you need to run vehicle ads on Facebook

1. In order to get started with Facebook Automotive Inventory ads, you need to create and submit a vehicle product feed to Facebook business manager. 


It should contain all relevant information such as the make, price, model, mileage, the year it was made - your whole inventory with their features. 



Creating Facebook Automotive feed | DataFeedWatch

2. The second thing you need to do is to add the Facebook pixel to your website, and send product ID views to Facebook. 
3. In the end, you can create your vehicle ad campaign to target potential car buyers. 



Benefits of Facebook Automotive Inventory ads

One of the biggest arguments for creating Facebook Automotive ads is the fact that 91% of vehicle shoppers start their car search online. Here are a few benefits you can experience when promoting your car dealership on Facebook.


  • Easy to set up and maintain

It is very easy to set up your Facebook Automotive Ads. First you submit your vehicle feed with all the details on your dealership inventory. Then you create a Dynamic Ad template and the ads content is created based on the information from the submitted feed. From this point, it is all done automatically. 


You only set your automotive ads campaign for all cars in your inventory. Facebook will pull the necessary data from your catalog each time the need for a new vehicle ad occurs.


Your Facebook automotive campaigns are always activated. They are in default set to reach people with the right inventory and at the right time, based on the behaviors they show on your website or app. Not much more work needed from your site.


  • Facebook ads has a broad reach

Millennials are this consumer group that has stormed the automotive market for a few years now. And they confess that they hate car dealerships but they love buying cars online. Besides, Facebook is their number 1 social platform of choice. Having that in mind, Facebook Automotive Inventory ads seems like a great idea!


Facebook has nearly 2.936 billion active monthly users as of 2022 and the majority of them visit the platform every day. This data means that the pool of potential car buyers is increasing or at least remains on a very high level all the time. Since there is such a large audience on Facebook scrolling their newsfeed every day, retailers can take advantage of it. They can use Facebook Automotive Ads to show their car inventory offers to people who intend to buy a vehicle.


  • You show the ads only to targeted people

Facebook Automotive Inventory ads allow you to automatically show ads with real-time availability and real-time pricing to potential car buyers based on very specific vehicles they engaged with on your website or app.


You don’t show your automotive ads to people who are not interested. You serve them to people who are really interested in purchasing a type of car you’re selling. 


  • Your automotive inventory ads campaign is targeted to people on all devices

Automotive Inventory Ads appear to people on all types of devices: web (laptop, desktop), mobile phone, tablet. And it doesn’t matter what device your potential customer used to initially see your vehicle. Your campaign will reach people everywhere.


  • Facebook removes the friction of slow mobile page load times 

Using Facebook automotive ads with an on-Facebook destination, your potential customers are being directed directly to a vehicle detail page with the information they need which is optimized for mobile devices.


How to set up automotive inventory ads?

Setting up Facebook Automotive ads is pretty intuitive. We’ve created this guide to help you get through the whole set up process. The most important steps are: creating Facebook catalog, preparing your vehicle feed and implementing Meta pixel on your website.


1. Create a Facebook catalog with your automotive inventory data

A Facebook automotive catalog contains your vehicle inventory data. You can set it up in 3 different ways:


  • Upload your optimized vehicle feed in the Catalog manager
  • Use 3rd-party inventory provider
  • Upload all vehicle data manually 


The best and easiest way to upload the catalog is using the vehicle feed. Here’s how you should act.


  • Go to Facebook Business Manager and from your dashboard open the Business Settings.




  • In the left menu, expand the Data Sources menu and click Catalogs.



  • Then click + Add button and Create New Catalog.
  • Name your catalog whatever you want and choose one the right inventory type depending on your business. In this case it will be Vehicles. Then click Create catalog



2. Upload your vehicle feed to Facebook

A vehicle feed should contain all information about the cars you’re selling: state_of_vehicle (whether new or used), make, model, trim, vin, body_style, price and more. We recommend that you include all required fields (you'll find the whole list here) and some additional ones that are relevant and might increase your products’ visibility on the platform. 


You can upload just one feed listing all your vehicles or use multiple feeds for specific vehicle types, for example VANs or SUVs. The feed formats accepted by Facebook are CSV, TSV, RSS XML, or ATOM XML. 


If you decide to use a feed management solution such as DataFeedWatch, you don’t need to care about any feed specifications. All the requirements that Facebook (or any specific channel) has, such as file format, mandatory and recommended fields names etc., will be pre-loaded in templates. All you need to do is fill in the Facebook automotive feed template with your dealership's product data.



Once your Facebook vehicle feed is created, upload it into your Facebook catalog. 


  • Navigate to Business settings and choose the “catalog manager”




  • Select your previously created catalog.
  • Go to Data sources > Catalogs and click on Add items.



  • Choose your feed upload option. We recommend that you schedule a regular feed upload so that your catalog can be updated hourly, daily or weekly. Frequent feed updates are important


  • Select the file from your computer and upload it. Name it and choose the currency.


3. Add vehicle sets

A vehicle set is a list of items in your Facebook catalog that you will use for your Automotive ads. One catalog can contain one or multiple product sets. For example, you can have 2 vehicle sets: SUVs and VANs.


  • In your Catalog Manager select Catalogs.
  • Go to Sets and choose Create set.
  • Name your new vehicle set.
  • Choose an attribute to filter your items.
  • Type in the search terms in the text box.
  • If you want, add more filters.


Here’s some best practices regarding vehicle sets creation.


4. Set up a pixel and/or mobile SDK

If you want to drive your potential customers to your website, you need to implement a pixel or, in case of an app, mobile SDK. A pixel is a code that you need to place on your website to be able to track conversions, optimize your Automotive Inventory ads, target right audiences and remarket car shoppers.


The Meta (Facebook) pixel is an analytics tool that allows you to follow the actions that visitors take on your website. Facebook's mobile SDKs measure in turn the actions taken in your app and pass event data from your app to Facebook.


Implementing your Facebook pixel should be one of the first steps when creating your Facebook Automotive ads campaign. The knowledge it provides is very valuable.


  • Go to the Business Manager dashboard and select Business Settings.
  • Expand the Data Sources menu and choose Pixels, then click Add.




  • Name your new pixel. You can use up to 50 characters.
  • Enter your website URL to get information about set up options.
  • Click Set up the Pixel Now if you want to set up your pixel on your website, or Continue managing my business (in case you want to stay in Business Manager).


You can find more information on implementing Meta pixel on this help page. And here’s a bunch of help for your developers.


5. Connect a pixel or mobile SDK to your catalog

Once your pixel and/or mobile SDK is set up, you need to link your Facebook catalog to them. This allows you to run the Facebook automotive ads. The connection makes it also possible to remarket your previous visitors who have been looking for a car or engaged with your vehicle inventory.


  • Navigate to Catalog Manager and then Events Manager.




  • Click on the green button + Connect Data Sources.


  • Select the Facebook pixel and follow the instructions to connect it.


  • Choose the catalog you want to use.
  • Select Connect to tracking under the events tab.


6. Create the Automotive Inventory Ad campaign in the Ads manager

In this final step, you will, among others, choose your target audience, the ad format, and set up a budget. You’ll set up the Facebook Automotive ad template.


The Automotive Inventory Ads are dynamic. You don’t need to create separate ads for each car you’re selling. Your task is to create just one ad template that will automatically pull the product data from your Facebook vehicle feed. 


  • Navigate to the Ads Manager and choose Catalog sales as the main campaign goal.




  • Select your Facebook catalog that houses the vehicle inventory you want to advertise. Then click on continue.
  • Choose your campaign budget.
  • Then select a vehicle set you’ve created before or create a new one.
  • Choose the audience you want to target. You can include and exclude types of people from your audience and also target a really broad audience.


  • Choose the locations, age, gender and language of your target audience.
  • Choose between the automatic and manual ad placement.
  • Choose the format of the image you want to use and complete the details of your Automotive Inventory ad. You can use single, carousel or collection ad formats for this type of ads.


  • Design your ad template. Then choose your tracking preferences and preferred language.



Best Practices for Automotive Inventory Ads on Facebook  


Facebook Automotive ads are a simple way for car dealers to boost their automotive marketing. Remember to implement some good practices to fully optimize your Automotive Inventory campaign.


Optimize your vehicle images

Make sure the images of the vehicles in your Automotive ads are high quality and interesting enough to compel your potential customers to click. In fact, image optimization is an important part of every online advertising campaign. And let’s be honest, there’s not many drivers who don’t care how their car looks.


The most important aspects of preparing vehicle images for your campaign are using a good camera, neutral backgrounds, well thought out photo composition and effective lighting.


Before including image urls in your vehicle feed, scale your images to avoid distortion and reduce your image file size, so it perfectly fits your Facebook automotive ad template.


Thoroughly research your competitors and target audience

Before investing your money in promotion of your dealership, it’s important to research your potential buyers.


You should conduct an analysis of your top competitors and find out how their customers behave. You could also identify relevant keywords using available marketing tools and make use of this knowledge in your audience targeting.


Optimize your dealership’s location information 

Many car shoppers still purchase locally. And Facebook Automotive ads take that into account (you can also include location details in your ads).


You should take care of your business’ SEO and optimize your dealership’s online visibility. 


You should have a contact page and a map to your store on your website. You can also enable users to click on your phone numbers on mobile devices. Creating Google My Business profile is a must. Social proof forms such as testimonials and reviews on your website is a great idea.



Every way to evaluate your automotive marketing is good and investing in Facebook Automotive ads is one of the best ideas. They allow you to target the audience that you know is interested in purchasing a car so you’re not wasting your time on promoting your inventory to random people. If you submit an optimized vehicle feed to the platform you’re already halfway to success. And the rest is just a campaign in Facebook Business Manager which should not be difficult with our guide.

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Written by Jagoda Adamik

Jagoda is a content creator and specialist in the Scandinavian region, especially in Denmark. She loves writing, travelling and reading non-fiction books.


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