Ed Steenman

Owner & Advisory Board Member BWC Strategy LLC | Steenman Associates

Ed Steenman is owner of Steenman Associates that provides traditional and digital media services to automotive dealerships and dealer groups nationally. An internationally recognized writer and presenter on social media and digital strategies, Ed Steenman and his team have been on the 'bleeding edge' of the digital revolution both presenting and implementing digital strategies for a diverse group of clientele. Ed is a regular contributor to leading industry publications including Dealer Marketing Magazine and Construction Equipment Distribution Magazine, as well as a regular guest lecturer at Seattle University and a recurring judge for State DECA events. Recent engagements include keynotes and breakout sessions for Volkswagen of Mexico, the Associated Equipment Dealers Lawson Executive Summit in Chicago and others.
Introducing Google Analytics 4: New Tracking & a New Way of Thinking

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Long the industry standard for measuring digital advertising, Google Analytics launched a significant update recently. More than an update, GA4 provides a whole new paradigm on how to think about and measure web traffic. So whether you're the guy who crunches the numbers, or needs to rely on or manage those that do, here's a quick dive on what you need to know about the new Analytics 4. Google Analytics Pre-Update: Universal Analytics As a starting point, a quick recap pre-update. Google Analytics, a free tracking tool from Google, provides data on your dealership's website traffic. It reports on things like which content or products are driving traffic on your site, from what website your visitors arrived, where and how they are converting or what actions they are taking on your site, as well as information like users' age, gender, country, device, etc. Many vendor dashboards are based on GA4, so whether or not you're viewing it in its native form, you're likely still relying on its data to make decisions. A key point on the previous Google UA is that tracking was accomplished by placing a block of JavaScript code on your website. And while that worked well for your website, tracking mobile devices required a different version of analytics, for example, GA for Apps, or  Google Analytics for Firebase , which created a problem. The data from these versions looked quite different from the tracking for your website, often making it difficult to implement consistent tracking. New Device Support and a New Data Model With the new GA 4, you can now track your website, an app, OR BOTH together. But since page views, bounce rate, or time on site are different for mobile, GA introduced a second change - a new data model. To unify the collection methods, GA underwent a complete rethinking of how it works, redefining things like page views, transactions, social interactions, etc., under one concept. These are now referred to as events. With the new GA4, an event can be almost anything you choose; a pageview, screen view, or app view. With each event that gets triggered, you'll also see extra information that describes the event more closely. These are called event parameters. Also, these properties can now occur in other events. So you can query them together and compare them against each other. It also future proofs the system for the different sorts of devices that you may want to track, like the IoT (Internet of Things) devices or Point-of-sale systems.  Changing How We Think about Analytics As you can see, Google Analytics 4 is a significant update, offering new tools with an entirely new perspective on data and how it represents the digital world. In addition to providing more flexibility in what we choose to send into the system, it also allows Google to plug your data into their existing machine learning systems and provide predictive insights. There is no longer a need to ask questions; rather, GA 4 gives us insights right away with new predictive metrics already built-in and available. The new GA4 is also more independent regarding the assumptions about what type of business it's looking at. In a nutshell, Google Analytics 4 has moved from being less of a reporting interface where you merely view your data and instead of providing you with D-I-Y tools to build yourself. This means your GA 4 setup doesn't have to look like everyone else's. Of course, this means more advanced planning on your part so the events can be properly interpreted later.  In closing, while the current Google Universal Analytics platform will likely stick around for a while, it's pretty clear that GA4 is the next step in the evolution of analytics data. So if you're ready to jump in and see what the new GA4 can do for you, there are three ways to get started (with varying degrees of commitment).  1. If you're ready to fully rely on Google Analytics 4 reporting. Set up a new site on a Google Analytics 4 property. 2. Create a parallel new GA4 property collecting data alongside your existing UA property. This will also establish a connection to migrate configuration settings from your UA property to your new GA4 property when you're ready. 3. Add Google Analytics 4 to a site that already has Analytics. Your UA property is left unchanged and continues to gather data. Note: you'll need Edit permission on your current account. Read more on setup here .  
Lockdown Spurs Growth of Streaming Video, Driving More Opportunity for Local Dealers

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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including the way we work, learn, shop and communicate. In regards to consumer video consumption, the pandemic hasn't so much changed the paradigm as it has advanced significant trends already in motion, mainly the impacts of cord cutting and streaming on the growth of digital video and the continued audience erosion of traditional TV.  BIA Advisory Services (a recognized media industry consultancy) labeled OTT and connected TV as "game changers" citing "advancements in ease and ability to purchase fragmented inventory and more advanced audience targeting" in releasing its forecast for U.S. local advertising in 2021. According to BIA's Rick Ducey " (the) local viewership shares gained in Q2 and Q3 of 2020 (are expected to) be maintained and expanded" According to eMarketer research , connected TV (CTV) audiences have now surpassed those of cable TV. Simply put, the audience growth that has occurred as a result of the lockdowns is here to stay.  OTT's growth, along with advances in data integration, provides new opportunities for dealerships to use more personalized TV advertising to deliver targeted video ads. Advertisers are now able to layer in-market data from first-party and third-party vendors to target in -market buyers based on make/model or class of vehicle. It is now possible to deliver, on a local level, specific unique commercial messages by household or even individual viewer. This means that different creative messages can be delivered to different people viewing the same content at the same time based on a number of household demographics or characteristics.  There are also continued advances in attribution. By adding a tracking pixel to their website, advertisers can more easily track and manage the performance of their OTT campaign(s) to ensure they are driving traffic that converts to actual vehicle sales.  How does OTT compare to television, YouTube or social video platforms? In comparing OTT and programmatic advertising to index-based broadcast or cable TV; comparing the cost per thousand (CPM's) of impressions each media delivers has been the traditional approach. Other factors typically considered in this type of analysis are factors such as age, sex, geography, rating survey area, live versus delayed viewing. Here you might see comparable CPM's for a linear or traditional TV buy when compared to OTT. However, this level of analysis fails to account for the targeting advantages OTT delivers in the ability to target in-market shoppers. Assuming that 11.51% (14.8 MM SAAR projected for 2020) of U.S. households plan a new vehicle purchase within a year, and assuming a three-month purchase cycle, counting only those "in-market shoppers" would result in an adjusted broadcast/ cable CPM easily in the $500+ range vs. a $30-40 CPM for OTT. While this analysis assumes that 100% of the OTT campaign is in fact targeted to in-market shoppers, the magnitude of a 10-fold difference in effective reach vs. cost builds a strong case in favor of the OTT model. OTT advertising also offers some key advantages compared to other digital platforms such as YouTube and Facebook. While both YouTube and Facebook offer the target ability of in-market shoppers, the granularity available in the attribution of OTT campaigns is currently not easily duplicated in either of those media. Another advantage unique to the OTT platform is the high completion or view thru rate of the video campaigns which often exceed 95%. This means that OTT video messaging has a high completion rate. Compare this to YouTube with a view completion rate in the 31% range ( bigcommerce.com ) or Facebook, where the scrolling nature of the format also translates into a low completed view-thru on the video ads. In Conclusion The pandemic has accelerated consumption of on-demand content while, at the same time, the capabilities of OTT advertising continue to evolve. While this will eventually be a crowded field, similar to local search advertising, right now there exists a unique opportunity for savvy automotive retailers to use video to position their dealerships with greater local competitive dominance and drive tangible and measurable incremental store sales.
Precision Targeting Capabilities: A Dealerships Guide to OTT Advertising

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Audience Growth, Advances in Features, Targeting, and Data; Support Increased ROAS Roughly half of US adults over 18 use at least one OTT service¹, which translates into about 182 million OTT subscription video service users². OTT ad spending has seen double-digit increases in recent years, with +54% YoY growth in 2018, 41% in 2019, and 32% in 2020³. There is no going back; cord-cutting is here to stay, and this presents new and exciting opportunities for local and regional dealers.   ¹ (OpenX), ² (eMarketer), ³(MagnaGlobal) Before diving in, let's take a minute to review three key terms that are used interchangeably and sometimes incorrectly. "OTT" refers to the delivery mechanism for TV content online, usually through streaming or video on demand served "over the top" of traditional providers. CTV stands for 'connected TV's" which access programs through a DEVICE, like a smart TV, ROKU stick, or gaming console, to watch TV content online. Lastly, "Programmatic" is a METHOD of purchasing video ads from various networks and providers.  Improved Targeting OTT ads can be targeted by geography (typically zip codes or cable zones if you are buying it from a cable provider), demographics (age, sex). For automotive advertisers, you can select things like 'in-market for an SUV,' or "in-market for a Toyota." Using a combination of POLK and Experian data, you can both include and exclude certain buying segments (want an SUV buyer, but don't want a Nissan buyer, for example). The more you narrow the segments, the more you pay, and you want to be careful not to narrow the segments to the point that you are working with too small of a data set. Typically a good rule of thumb is to look at the budget you want to spend (3k to 5k per month is a good place to start), look at the fact that you want to reach each viewer with a reasonable frequency (say 5x monthly), and see what size population and targeting that leaves you with- and adjust accordingly from there. Responsive Content Whereas a basic OTT campaign can run as a mix of connected TV (big screen) or adding other devices (laptop, tablet, mobile), there is also an opportunity for dealers to generate additional content that can be served alongside the video ad while the ad is on-screen. This is referred to as "responsive" or right-rail content (since it often sits to the video's right on screen). This information is pulled directly from the dealer's website and will usually be monthly offers (leases, payments, etc.) customized by vehicle. They are not statically embedded in the ad but rather dynamic to change on TV as the offers on your website change. The obvious advantage is that consumers are served up to the minute information relating specifically to the vehicle(s) with which they have shown purchase intention. There is also the additional benefit of reducing the time and production cost to update the video content whenever the offers change. Reporting and Attribution This is an area where I see the most difference between providers. A basic, bare-bones report should include at least: A list of the networks or websites where the ads played. The number of impressions delivered. Video completion rate. A higher reporting level may include attribution to show you. How many people that viewed your OTT ad visited your website (website lift). How many in-market shoppers that saw your ad visited "A" Dealership, How many in-market shoppers that saw your ad visited YOUR dealership in the form of a cost per arrival.  Additionally, you can also see which ad creative and offers generated the most engagement allowing a/b testing of different messaging to improve campaign effectiveness over time. Finding the Best Program and Value for You OTT ads are typically delivered on a variety of devices within the household, including TVs, desktop or laptop computers, tablets, or mobile phones. Running an ad on the largest screen in the house in a long-form TV show is a much different environment than running the same ad on a laptop or cell phone. Ads watched on the 'big screen' are fully watched nearly 98% of the time. Contrast that to YouTube or Facebook, where most ads are viewed for under five seconds.   Ads are most typically sold on a CPM basis (CPM stands for Cost Per Impression). The cost per impression for the big screen can be as much as 5x that of other positions. Knowing this will help you to compare different offers more accurately. Since novice buyers may just blindly compare CPM's looking for the cheapest deal, some providers will include things like an in-banner video (think video display ad) and other delivery pieces to make the overall CPM look more attractive.  Beware of making a decision based solely on price. Ask the provider what portion of the campaign will deliver on smart TV's on LFP (long format programming) as opposed to other devices. Pricing varies across vendors and platforms and is also sold at auction, meaning it fluctuates depending on daily market conditions. As of today, a reasonable planning rate for a blended CPM would start around $18 per thousand, with automotive-specific packages incorporating purchase intention data, responsive formatting, and full attribution costing more. With precision targeting capabilities, new messaging options, enhanced tracking, and a lower cost relative to traditional TV, OTT is well-positioned to drive a higher ROAS for your dealership. The time is now to take advantage of this exciting new opportunity to promote your store.
Why Now is the Time to Revisit Your SEO Strategy

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Your Customers Attitudes, Behaviors, and Expectations Are Changing I’ve chosen to look at COVID 19 as a ‘great reset’. It’s been said that problems are opportunities-so then what exactly  is  the opportunity for the Tier 3 dealerships in this new normal? Kantar, a leading worldwide research firm, canvassed over 100,000 people’s opinions in over 60 markets and published a “COVID 19 Barometer” designed to help marketers understand some of the key short and long-term changes in consumer attitudes, behaviors, and expectations - and their implications. The Kantar study identified three significant changes that are predicted to remain sticky in our post-pandemic world, and to which consumer products and brands will need to adapt. In abbreviated form, they are (1) a new wave of digital shoppers will emerge, (2) An extended period of value-consciousness, (3) Localism as a mainstream movement. Using the foundation of these three core trends, particularly the acknowledgment that online shopping will continue to develop, dealerships that position themselves as most responsive to these evolving consumer needs and inquiries are most likely to survive and thrive. The world of automotive online search has changed significantly over the recent period and today involves many more paths to purchase. When was the last time you reviewed how your dealership is ranking regarding these new types of searches? Updated automotive Search Engine Optimization SEO is vital, and the time to revisit it is now. Where to Begin A significant first step is to analyze your website yourself through a service like SEOmoz or your website provider. What you should see is a report card for things like site loading time, broken links, missing headers, how well your site is optimized for mobile, and other contributing factors as to how Google ranks your site. Next, interview several potential SEO providers and ask specific questions about the actual deliverables they intend to provide. Some firms focus on keyword optimization, others on content creation, still others are broader-based. SEO consists of both on-page (things like site structure, site speed, and UX user experience) and off-page (earning links, improving the popularity of your site and content) and requires a balanced strategic approach.  Some automotive SEO providers require you to pre-select from a “menu” of services. Because the success of your SEO program depends directly on how it relates to your business goals, with this approach, it’s critical to be sure whatever package you choose matches the true needs of your dealership. Remember, SEO is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Be sure your team can move between the various disciplines as circumstances dictate. Beyond goal alignment, it’s essential to understand the time frame required to start seeing your SEO program results and what factors influence this timeline. In general, you can expect to see results from legitimate SEO techniques within six months.  As your program progresses, your SEO team should be ready and able to show you performance metrics monthly. These should include how your defined universe of search terms and phrases are gaining (or losing) ground in overall rankings, competitive market share reports on how you are doing relative to competitors, as well as what it would cost in google or BING pay-per-click to achieve the same relative rank or position. Long Term Benefits Remember, one of the great things about SEO is that it’s an investment in your long-term position. Research shows that over 80% of clicks come from organic results. Unlike paid AdWords, organic results don’t stop when you quit paying the bill. It has also been shown repeatedly that more robust organic results work in concert with your paid campaigns and improve the effectiveness of both.   Your website, and how you attract buyers to it, are more critical than ever before. It’s time to get back to basics and re-tool for the new now. To read more on COVID-19 Barometer research click here.
Podcasting Provides New Opportunities for Local Auto Dealers

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From nationally-known shows like Joe Rogan and Ben Shapiro to niche programs catering to a specific audience, podcasts are officially a thing. As of fall 2019, 51% (144 million) of the US population had listened to a podcast, and 21% listened weekly. While podcasting has largely been a national play, it's now reached the point where an increasing number of opportunities are becoming available to local advertisers. Before we jump into costs and specifics, let's look at why you may want to consider podcast advertising for your dealership 1 . Podcast listeners listen to an average of seven different shows per week (up from five in 2017). 80% listen to all or most of each episode (fewer ads and lower tune-out). The most popular age group for podcasts listeners is 25-44, which makes up 49% of total listeners. 56% of podcast listeners are male. 45% of monthly podcast listeners have a household income over $75K vs. 35% for the total population. 27% of US podcast listeners have a 4-year college degree vs. 19% for US pop music. Podcast listeners are much more active on every social media channel (94% are active on at least one vs. 81% for the entire population.) Podcast listeners are more likely to follow companies and brands on social media. Podcast listeners are more likely to subscribe to Netflix or Amazon Prime (meaning they are less likely to be exposed to TV advertising.) 69% agreed that podcast ads made them aware of new products or services. So how is podcasting different from radio? Podcasting might look like radio. But where radio is mass media, podcasting is very personal and intimate for the listener. Like Netflix and streaming video, Podcasts are 100% on demand. This translates into much higher engagement since the listener consciously chooses to listen when it's most convenient for them. This, in turn, equals higher engagement for your ad content as well. Podcasts don't have to follow the standard broadcast clock and can be of any length. Typically, they're a library of bite-sized chunks listeners can choose to explore depending on their interests and available time. Podcasts offer a large variety of topics. As of this writing, there are over 700,000 active podcasts and 29 million podcast episodes available. Popular listening platforms are Spotify, iHeart, and Apple podcasts. And local Podcasts are booming. Here in the Seattle market, for example, there are podcasts to support practically every local sport (Seattle Mariners, Sounders, Seahawks Man2Man, Seattle Sports Saturday, and more) as well as a wide variety of local topics. Many local radio, tv, or other personalities also produce their own podcasts as well. The number of ads (spot load) on Podcasts is far less than commercial breaks on traditional radio, which further highlights your message and "makes it personal." So How Do You Advertise? The price to advertise in Podcasts varies and is typically based on audience size as measured by monthly average downloads per episode. As of Oct 1, 2019, the industry average price per 1,000 listeners was $18 for a 30-second ad, and $25 for a 60-second ad. Like most advertising, rates are negotiable, but ad positions are very limited. Keep in mind that standard lengths aren't required, so it's not uncommon to contract ads longer than 60-seconds. Beyond cost, it is essential to understand how Podcasts mandate a different approach in the creation of sponsorship content. Typical commercial-style radio ads and jingles sound very out of place on a Podcast. Instead, see if the show host, especially if they're local, will read your ad copy or – even better- provide an endorsement or testimonial for you! If that's not feasible, then use a heartfelt voice like the owner of your dealership. An additional benefit of this approach is that you can make copy changes relatively quickly and inexpensively. To get some ideas, find Podcasts you enjoy and listen to how they approach the sponsorship content, or hire a professional to help you. Then be consistent. In Conclusion Podcasts are already a proven platform for national advertisers, and benefits await dealerships who get connected with relevant Podcasts on a local level. Who knows, you may even decide it's time to start your own Podcast. But that's a subject for a different day. Citations source: 1 Podcast Insights 2 singlegrain.com 3 AdvertiseCast
Your Customer Communication Survival Guide for COVID19

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We are in a period of great uncertainty. Travel is restricted; here in a suburb of Seattle, Washington (where I am writing this) events over 50 people have been officially canceled; gatherings of any size are discouraged; schools, churches, health clubs, hair salons, bars, and restaurants are all closed under mandatory order. And while many folks are working at home, lots of people aren’t working at all and already wondering how they’re going to pay their expenses. The stock market had another grueling day as well.  And here we are in the car business. It is said that with challenges come opportunities, and so what lies ahead for us? First, we WILL get through this, there is no choice. People will still need us- if not right now, then in the not so distant future. And as people adjust to this new reality, they’re looking for the same things you are: safety, reassurance, honesty and trust. So how can we be here for them? Let’s start with communication. “‘We’re all in this together’. Start by letting customers know that you are still open for business, the best ways they can connect with you, and what you’re doing to keep them safe. Make sure your website highlights how people can reach you. If you allow on-line service scheduling for example or have a dropbox where they can leave keys and information for service. Let them know what you are doing to keep them safe at the dealership. What steps you’re taking; from having hand sanitizer at convenient locations, to regularly wiping down all surfaces.  Let them know what you are doing to keep them safe at the dealership. What steps you’re taking; from having hand sanitizer at convenient locations, to regularly wiping down all surfaces.  Let them know you encourage employees who are sick to stay home and pay them when they are sick. If you have salespeople that will meet customers off-site, or at their home, let them know this is a service you offer. If you allow test drives without the salesperson in the vehicle, let them know that as well. In the service department, if you are willing to pick and or return a car that is being serviced. Finally (and very important) let them know you are a business supporting local families that are trying to make it through this difficult time, just like them. And most importantly, if you say you are doing it, actually do it! One thing we know is that media consumption is currently off the charts right now. Tell your story the best way you can afford to. People are out of their normal routines and very receptive to new information right now. Be that source they will feel comfortable turning to when they do need help. And they will. The challenge is the opportunity. Good luck, and see you on the other side.