How do online marketing campaigns evolve with the increased competition in automotive industry and differentiated customer needs and expectations?
Christy Roman: One of the greatest things about online marketing is the ability to target much better than other media – but one of the other things about it is the fraud and smoke and mirrors aspect that is inherent in digital marketing. Finding a happy medium is key. I advocate Search Engine Marketing along with great advertising content on the dealership web site as a primary place to spend dollars dominating your brand. Your web site should be the primary ad for your business – anyone who visits should know “why” they should buy from you. From there, geo-fencing and targeting your own database with video
pre-roll ads and inventory retargeting (serving inventory ads of vehicles that you have visited on a dealer or third party web site). YouTube TruView and Pre–roll video advertising which can help create frequency in specific areas is also effective. For used cars, online classified companies like AutoTrader.com are focused on the inventory you have, rather than the dealership brand and is very critical to that revenue area. Getting more leads off your own web site traffic is also a very important aspect of digital marketing – being able to track leads and conversions coming off your own traffic is a great way to measure various digital marketing efforts (if you don’t get more engagement/leads with increased traffic, chances are you’re not going to get much for your money).
General banner advertising online, while inexpensive, is the least effective form of digital marketing in my mind. Automotive is a category that has many targeted digital aspects – the key is to have a strategy going into what you are trying to sell across all your revenue centers and then to find the most targeted ways to get those messages across.
How do you see the development of new tools in mobile and other digital technologies will affect the way people perceive ads and react to them?
Christy Roman: The ability to follow people as they go through the Internet and to target them specifically while they looked at on your web site is a newer use of data. It is a balancing act to put ads in front of people who do not know you and know exactly what they looked at on your web site (and others as well). Thus far, there are a number of companies providing advertising solutions around this, and the consumer doesn’t know how they are being targeted. In one sense, this is a brilliant opportunity to deliver a tremendously relevant ad. On the other hand, as privacy issues continue to be in the forefront, it will be interesting to see if people will react negatively to knowing that’s how they are being targeted. Right now, it’s not that obvious.
To me, the ability to target individuals one-to-one with targeted messaging is a tremendous advancement in technology and should lead to greater sales conversions. But the privacy issue looms large in my view.