Video Marketing: Today and Into the Future

Part Two: Ads vs. content videos, consumer behavior, and emerging video technology

Last week, in the first part of the November cover story on video marketing, Tim James of Flick FusionGary Galloway of Netsertive, and Mike Martinez of AutoPoint discussed why video is necessary for dealerships, how it doesn’t have to cost a fortune to implement, and what elements an effective campaign should include.

In the second part of the feature, they dig deeper and discuss the pros and cons of video ads vs. content videos, consumer behavior and target audiences, and emerging video technology, such as virtual reality, that will make it an even more potent marketing tool.

Dealer Marketing Magazine: When automotive shoppers are doing research on vehicles and dealerships, what do you think is more influential—video ads or content videos?

Tim James: A video isn’t a different type of marketing message, it is a better way of delivering your marketing message. Ads and content both serve a very distinct purpose in your marketing strategy, and that purpose does not change when being served with a video.

Where I see video ads being the most successful are in a retargeting strategy, displaying ads to viewers who have already viewed videos on your dealership’s website. This keeps that vehicle and your brand top of mind while keeping your ad campaign affordable.

Keep in mind that video ads are still ads, and many consumers just tune ads out. In order for ads to be effective, they should link the viewer to a landing page that not only displays the video in the ad but also other videos that promote your dealership, as well as a call to action and lead form. Don’t just link the ad to your website; the consumer will land on the home page and ask, “now what?”

[Regarding content videos], a dealership can have inventory videos, new model test drive videos, model comparison videos, value proposition videos, customer testimonial videos, employee spotlight videos, educational videos, and service department videos like how-tos. These videos allow dealerships to really get across the personality and culture of the business, and of the people who work there.

Also, consumers do a lot of online research before they buy. Content videos can help with this phase of the shopping process. Inventory videos are great for the final stage of the car-buying process, but to bring car shoppers down funnel, dealerships should have videos on car-buying tips, as well as model-level videos and trim-level videos that explain and highlight features to consumers. Many dealers are missing this opportunity to capture and engage car shoppers early in the buying cycle when they are doing research, and content videos are a great way to do this.

According to Google’s November 2015 report, “The 5 Auto Shopping Moments Every Brand Must Own,” the top three types of video content that consumers search for are vehicle test drives, highlights of features and options, and walk-throughs of the interior and exterior of the vehicle. Consumers are searching for these videos, so dealers should have them available.


Gary Galloway: Dealers should have a combination of the two. Try embracing a 30/70 rule: 30% branding, 70% sales promotion. This will enable dealers to tell the product-focused story, while differentiating their showroom (or promotions) from others in the local market.

To be influential, it’s critical that video advertisements show real people using products whenever possible, as it gives buyers a better understanding of the vehicle, its capabilities, unique features, and more. With today’s car buyer spending less time researching online, it’s critical that each digital touch point is rich with information, and enables the buyer to easily locate the dealership and plan a visit.

Mike Martinez: Content videos, absolutely. Because customers want to research their options before they buy and content videos answer their questions, guide them down the path to purchase, and link them to a specific dealership.

Video ads are great for getting the word out, but customers aren’t going to choose your dealership for the OEM or the models you sell—those days are over. Customers are going to choose your dealership because you’ve convinced them you have exactly what they’re looking for. Content videos are the way to do that.

DMM: When creating dealership video content, is it best to aim it primarily at the more video-focused millennial audience and hope other buying groups will follow, or should marketers try to create videos with a “one size fits all” mindset?

TJ: Certainly millennials consume video content at a greater rate than any other generation. But video increases engagement with all consumers in every generation.

As mentioned previously, a video isn’t new content, it is a better way of delivering your current content. You don’t have to change the purpose of your content just because you are delivering it via a video. The primary target for a video marketing strategy should be car buyers, period.

GG: Message segmentation for different buyers is very difficult to accomplish, and can sometimes lead to a diluted advertising message. However, if dealerships are willing and able to invest in proper segmentation, it can be an effective way to reach various key audiences. If dealers are able to segment, they should flip the 30/70 message ratios and instead focus on a 70/30 rule: 70% branding and 30% sales promotion.

An increased focus on branding messages will resonate more with millennial buyers, in particular. This generation does not want to be sold to. Educational videos exploring topics such as the car-buying experience would be an excellent way to target the millennial audience, as many are first-time car buyers.

MM: Millennials are the largest, most diverse generation in history and they’re slated to spend $1.4 trillion annually by 2020. You certainly don’t lose by marketing to millennials. But I don’t think dealerships have to worry about alienating other audiences. Where millennials go, other generations follow.

It’s not just millennials using smartphones, streaming media, and researching their purchases. The older generations are following their lead. Millennials aren’t the only ones walking into dealerships with their minds made up, ready to buy because they’ve done all their research online.

DMM: What new or upcoming developments in video marketing strategy or technology are you excited about, and how soon do you expect to see them incorporated into dealerships’ video programs?


TJ: There are two new technologies that will soon elevate video marketing to a whole new level: CRM integration and virtual reality (VR) videos.

CRM integration: When your video marketing provider’s platform is fully integrated with your dealership’s CRM, your video content is transformed from a marketing tool into an active and actionable lead generator. Integration enables car shoppers’ video viewing data to be captured from auto dealers’ websites, third-party listing sites like AutoTrader or, Facebook, or any other touch point where a video is viewed like a lead-response video email.

The data is then transmitted to the CRM in real time, where it is matched with customer records, allowing you to receive a real-time notification that your shopper is on abc touch point watching xyz video that very second. This creates the perfect opportunity for you to call them at the most relevant time.

This is called behavior-based marketing technology, which creates user profiles of individual consumers. When matched to customer profiles in a CRM, dealers are able to generate relevant and targeted messages that appeal to individual buyer interests. Integration also allows marketers to push sales and marketing data back to an individual shopper in real time via the video, and directly attribute KPIs and ROI to their video marketing campaigns.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of having video platform and CRM integration is that sales teams are immediately alerted to customer video-viewing behavior as it is occurring, giving them actionable insights and the ability to communicate with a shopper while they are still on a website and looking at a vehicle.

Imagine the power of pulling up a customer record and being able to see which videos that customer has viewed in the past day, week, or month. Imagine a salesperson getting an alert that a lead they spoke with three days ago is on a blog or a third-party marketing website, right now, watching an inventory video. Video data and CRM integration will improve your sales exponentially.

Virtual reality videos: A technology that has been perceived as science fiction is now officially here: not just the next big thing, but the big thing right now. Google search interest for VR videos has grown four times in the last year, and anyone with a smartphone and a VR headset can view VR videos.

OEMs, including BMW, Volvo, and Infiniti, released virtual reality test drive videos this year, and Cadillac is planning to build virtual reality showrooms. For auto dealers, this exciting new medium is ideal for creating immersive, VR inventory videos.

Virtual reality images are three-dimensional, with a sense of depth that gives viewers a feeling of complete immersiveness. Auto shoppers feel like they’re actually sitting in a vehicle, giving them a realistic experience and creating an emotional attachment to that vehicle.

When consumers consent to a VR experience, they become a completely captive audience. Users strap on a headset and fully commit their time to becoming immersed in the experience. With no distractions, they pay more attention to the content and message.

VR is also memorable [and emotional]. Memory formation in our brains is strongly linked to place and time. Transporting customers to a different location makes them more likely to remember details about what they saw and heard. Users are more likely to develop an emotional attachment to a vehicle they have test driven, even if it’s just a virtual test drive. A VR experience is much more intense and engaging than simply looking at ads or reading text.

To create a VR inventory video, dealerships or their inventory photo vendors need to use a 360˚ camera, available to consumers and small businesses [for] $200 to $1,000. Vehicle walk-around videos are filmed just like regular videos, with either a live or post-recorded audio voice-over highlighting features and benefits of the vehicle’s interior and exterior. VR videos can be used just like regular videos, and can also be used in mobile ad marketing or email marketing campaigns.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) of millennials say they are interested in VR, and even more (79%) of Gen Z’ers say they are. As VR becomes mainstream, dealers who blaze the trail with this medium stand to gain the most: 81% of people who try VR claim they tell their friends about the experience, and are sharing and discussing VR on social media at very high rates.

GG: There are some really exciting video channels coming from social media, especially on Instagram and Facebook. The latter now offers livestream video, which is a unique opportunity for marketers to create content in real time.

This could be a unique way to unveil new inventory or a highly anticipated arrival with the local buyer. With the introduction of Instagram for Business, marketers now have more visibility on how buyers are interacting with their content, and can enable clear calls to action that help streamline the path to purchase.

The opportunities becoming available through social media are both cost-effective and exciting. Looking ahead, dealers must consider how they can market to their local buyer through these channels.

MM: As we get better data and better at using that data, we can create highly targeted marketing videos directed at specific consumer segments. We already know customers prefer personalized, effortless experiences, so the more relevant we can make video marketing, the greater impact it will have. That’s already happening.

As for what’s coming up, virtual reality is going to totally change the dealership game. Talk about virtual showrooms and test drives—dealerships are going to look more like a store at the mall than a standalone edifice with huge lots full of vehicles.

Technology like VR is also going to promote online vehicle sales, with more customers completing the buying process online. As it is, 20% of U.S. auto shoppers do everything they can online, and only go into the dealership to finish the paperwork. I think that number will grow, and more sales will move online as new technology becomes commonplace.

Kurt Stephan


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