Auto Ad Tech Platform PureCars Can Now Retarget You On Facebook With The Exact Car You’re Interested In

The Charleston, South Carolina-based company says this is the first VIN-level social retargeting for the auto industry.

Chat with MarTechBot


Ad retargeting on Facebook for cars is not like it is for, say, a pair of boots.

So this week, auto-focused ad tech firm PureCars announced what it says is a first for its industry: ad retargeting on that giant social network that is specific to the actual car on the dealer’s lot, down to the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

If you look at a pair of boots on a retailer’s website and then go to your profile page on Facebook, you might get a retargeted ad for those boots in your News Feed. But it doesn’t matter to you which specific boots are being shown in the ad, as long as it’s the same type of boots.

Cars are different. First of all, they’re usually the second-biggest purchase made by consumers, after real estate. This means that, although consumers commonly research and even decide their auto choice through online browsing, they don’t buy cars online. Yet.

So the retargeted ad is not pushing immediate purchase, like the boots ad might. Instead, it’s trying to prompt you that the car is still available, helping to keep it top-of-mind.

But it can be more effective if the retargeted ad on Facebook says, in effect: “That specific new or used car you checked out is still on the dealer’s lot at the same price or at this new price.”

Here, for instance, might be a dealer’s website page for a truck you’re interested in:

Truck ad

And here’s the retargeted PureCars ad in your Facebook News Feed for that exact same truck:

Facebook truck ad

“A dealership has a website provider and a separate inventory provider,” PureCars’s director of marketing, Nancy Lim, told me. The inventory software, she said, is like a customer relationship management (CRM) system for cars, and the inventory data cannot readily be used for, say, Facebook ads.

It’s “not a clean data report,” she said, adding that PureCars has employed its proprietary tech “to translate the inventory feed so Facebook can read it.” The Charleston, South Carolina-based company licenses its technology to dealers so that its platform can look at their inventory.

PureCar’s Facebook ad, therefore, can show a photo of the exact car you may have looked at on the dealer’s site a week ago — the same color, trim and, if it’s a used car, the same condition.

It is also updated for any pricing change, which is why PureCars pulls the data from the inventory feed rather than the dealer’s website page. If the dealership has changed the pricing or other specs, the ad’s accuracy is not dependent on an update to the web page.

Previously, PureCar’s SmartAdvertising platform — which launched in 2012 — handled VIN-level retargeted ads for search and display ads, and now it’s expanding into social networks, starting with Facebook.

Other ad platforms for autos “don’t have a programmatic way to look at inventory and serve ads,” Lim said, and instead present generic retargeted ads for the make and model.

Lim said that competing ad tech platforms for the car industry are generally built on third-party platforms that are not “auto-specific.” By contrast, she said, PureCars has been developed for the car industry and can handle the “messy” data emanating from dealerships.

PureCars says that 84 percent of car buyers are on Facebook, and that a quarter of those car shoppers conduct car-buying research through Facebook. The company adds that its beta testing shows that SmartAdvertising Social on Facebook can increase leads from five to 30 percent. While Lim said the conversion rate “has been positive,” there are no stats yet.

In October, PureCars was acquired for $125 million by Raycom Media, an owner of 51 TV stations.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Barry Levine
Barry Levine covers marketing technology for Third Door Media. Previously, he covered this space as a Senior Writer for VentureBeat, and he has written about these and other tech subjects for such publications as CMSWire and NewsFactor. He founded and led the web site/unit at PBS station Thirteen/WNET; worked as an online Senior Producer/writer for Viacom; created a successful interactive game, PLAY IT BY EAR: The First CD Game; founded and led an independent film showcase, CENTER SCREEN, based at Harvard and M.I.T.; and served over five years as a consultant to the M.I.T. Media Lab. You can find him at LinkedIn, and on Twitter at xBarryLevine.

Get the must-read newsletter for marketers.