Video Campaigns: The High-Performance Marketing Solution for Automotive Retail

Strategies to better leverage video to align with your dealership’s bottom line


The rise of video campaigns as a digital marketing tool continues unabated. eMarketer estimates that between 2018 and 2021, digital video advertising will increase by double-digit percentages annually, topping $22 billion by the end of 2021, or about 17% of all digital ad spending.

The vast majority of video spend is dedicated to branding—that is, pushing out awareness messaging to potential customers with typical success metrics including video completion rates, click throughs, or video engagements.

But considering that the results of a CMO Council survey indicate sales is the top metric by which success is defined for 78% of CMOs (and likely 100% of auto dealers), it would appear that the way marketers are leveraging video is misaligned with their bottom line. That same survey indicated that just 37% are currently able to derive cost-per-lead or acquisition metrics.

Luckily for marketers and dealers, the tide may be turning. Video formats are becoming more scalable, allowing for better reach and greater efficiencies. Data-driven audience targeting formerly reserved for banner ads is now possible with video, allowing for targeting based on user location, shopping behaviors, and even life events such as getting married or having a baby.

Creating successful performance video campaigns is more complex than simply running a standard pre-roll ad. Consider the following tips when building out your strategy for your next video marketing effort.

Video is the best available medium to teach new customers about your dealership and offerings

According to Wyzowl’s Q4 2017 survey, 95% of people have watched an explainer video to learn more about a product or service, and 72% would rather watch video than read text if both are available.

Given these stats, consider creating short explainer videos for each of your services and featured offers, using text only sparingly for calls to action (click to call, learn more, etc.).

Optimize landing pages in the same way, providing a potential customer all the necessary details about your dealership in short video snippets and concise text to compliment your marketing outreach efforts.

Audience-based buying is vital to achieve the best results for your video campaigns

Simple demographic targeting is not enough to move the needle when developing a targeting strategy for a performance campaign.

From a data and targeting perspective, you’ll need to leverage marketing partners that can, at minimum, identify consumers in-market for new, used, or CPO vehicles to ensure they receive the most relevant vehicle and financing offers, or can help you utilize CRM data to promote the service department to current customers.

Better yet, partners that can relay a customer’s life stages (new baby, recent mover) or specific vehicle category of interest can help you develop multiple iterations of videos to address the unique needs of prospective customers.

Embrace a variety of formats, including mobile and interactive video

Although standard desktop pre-roll video ads remain a favorite to achieve video-view and completion metrics, questions remain about how receptive consumers are to a forced viewing experience.

ORC International recently noted that 90% of consumers skip pre-roll ads by switching tabs, not paying attention, or hitting the “skip ad” button. The six-second pre-roll ad is growing in popularity among marketers, but it’s unclear how effective it can be in persuading a consumer to make a major purchase decision, such as choosing a dealership to buy their car.

Rather than relying on a format that is disliked by most consumers, consider an “opt-in” video format that allows consumers to choose where and when to interact, and utilize this format across screens for maximum reach.

Also, consider adding contextually relevant interactive features to the video units, such as a “click to call” or “find a dealer” map functionality to a mobile unit, or an inventory gallery to a desktop unit.

Given the findings from Brightcove and Demand Metric, which determined that 35% of marketers using interactive video extensively saw increased conversions and 25% saw increased sales, you have everything to gain from testing this format against your current pre-roll efforts.

Finish the consumer journey as strongly as possible

Cox Automotive found that most consumers begin their purchase decision-making process online, checking third-party sites for content, reviews, and pricing, while simultaneously talking to friends and family in person or via social media about their own vehicle ownership experiences.

Cox also discovered dealer sites are often the last resource consumers consult before visiting a dealership. Interactive video can be a vital conduit during the middle research phase of the consumer journey to drive in-market consumers toward your dealership instead of a competitor’s.

Bringing your best site content into the user’s browsing experience via opt-in interactive videos can give buyers a taste of your dealership’s offerings without forcing them away from their content, earning you credibility before they step foot inside your showroom.

Plus, the data gathered from that interactive video unit can prove vital to remarketing efforts, allowing you to retarget with specific vehicles, offers, or services that piqued their initial interest.

Rather than ending your consumer outreach with text or banner ads, finish the conversation with your best assets, ones that highlight the best features of your dealership through user interaction.


Video has long been a format best utilized for branding purposes, generating awareness and consideration for dealerships. Times are changing, however, and video is now a multipurpose tool that can deliver leads, sales, and foot traffic if utilized correctly.

Take these tips into account and consider video campaigns as your new weapon to generate business for your dealership, and give consumers what they are now frequently asking for: 100% opt-in and noninterruptive ad formats, interactivity, and a compelling reason to choose you over the competition.

As vice president of account planning, Jim Johnson is responsible for leveraging Exponential’s consumer research and insights tools to develop holistic marketing strategies that guide clients toward their desired digital advertising outcomes. Prior to joining Exponential, Jim worked as a media planner with Carat on brands including Reebok, VH1, and RadioShack.

Jim Johnson

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