Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and other social-media tools offer more word-of-mouth impact at a smaller cost than advertising on a traditional big-ticket event, such as the Super Bowl, according to Ford marketing chief Jim Farley. The automaker is spending one in four ad dollars on digital media, about two times the amount that is projected to be the average digital budget in 2012. "Customers are spending as much time with the mobile smartphone or online as they are watching TV now, so our advertising dollars have to flow to where the people are," Farley said.

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