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A Revealing Look At Dealership Homepage Banners

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The emphasis many dealers place on creating homepage banners is a glaring example of the industry’s failure to communicate changing consumer behaviors. It’s no surprise that these have become a staple of websites , not just in automotive retail. They’re a visually compelling way to communicate monthly specials and incentives to car shoppers on a highly visible page where many consumers land.  You may be one of those dealers who compels their agency partner to create — say — a baker’s dozen each month.  The truth is that — even with the high-traffic visibility — homepage banners are not nearly as effective as you may have originally thought. The Numbers Behind the Banners While intuition can serve you well, no decisions regarding your digital marketing should be made without statistically relevant data. One of our (Reunion Marketing) Client Success Specialists intuitively felt that homepage banners were an outdated focus, so we took 24 clients who used the same industry-leading website hosting platform to analyze homepage data over a determined period of time.  Below are the numbers of what we found. Car shoppers clicked on the following:  Navigation: 49.36% Inventory Search Widget: 29.73% Homepage Banners / Videos: 5.99% This means that car shoppers , no matter the source or medium, who landed on our clients’ homepage, approximately 0.05 (or 1 in 20) of them clicked on a homepage banner. While it’s true that one person in twenty does have purchasing power, let’s take a closer look into the numbers. Of the 5.99% of car shoppers who clicked on a homepage banner, here’s what we found: 45.51% of them clicked on the 1st Position Banner 25.27% of them clicked on the 2nd Position Banner 14.37% of them clicked on the 3rd Position Banner 9.42% of them clicked on the 4th Position Banner This means that by the time you’ve created a 4th Position Banner, you’ve allocated time and resources to a homepage item that only receives 0.56% of all homepage clicks.  Our research led to our setting-specific recommendations on homepage banners for our Dealer partners.  Homepage Banner Recommendations Based on the data, we concluded that automotive dealerships should create no more than three new homepage banners . Though there is a demonstrated steep decline in car shopper clicks after the First Position Banner, we know, based on our work with hundreds of Dealer partners, that you need to manage more than a single special or event during a given month. This also begs the question for many Dealers: How do I manage this when my OEM requires XX (number of) banners? You can still follow the recommended three new banners for your latest incentives and have a host of stock banners that satisfy the OEM requirement through which you can rotate.  SEO Is Incomplete Without Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) This understanding of homepage banners is part of an ongoing process called Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO), which should be a part of any internal team or agency partner’s SEO work. Beyond the homepage data analysis, there are dozens of other items that should be regularly checked or strategies that you can implement. Hotjar to monitor consumer behavior on pages. Checking for buttons above the fold. Compare metrics across devices. SRP to VDP Efficiency Audits Ensuring clear and consistent merchandising. Homepage to SRP Efficiency Audits Compare benchmarks for mobile clicks-to-call, form submissions, etc. Understanding what goals are underperforming These are just a handful of items that should be part of your dealership’s Conversion Rate Optimization. You are, after all, spending money to have internal teams or outside partners work to send high-quality traffic to your website. It is incumbent upon them to also help optimize their ability to shop the site and feel further compelled to take action.
OTT Advertising: Auto Retailers & Agency Partners Find New Car Shopper Connections

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Today's online ecosystem offers an ideal medium for the delivery and consumption of many advertising formats. Unlike traditional television, the internet is universal in how it delivers content as well as a more selective environment for advertising messages. Connected TV (CTV) has become critical for automotive retailers and agency partners looking for a complete-funnel solution to leverage audience reach and deliver messages to local car shoppers.   Industry estimates show that CTV households are expected to grow 82% by 20231, and cord-cutter and cord-never households will increase to 44% of the population during the same period.  Personalized Video Ads  The move to OTT-driven streaming video content will be a significant advantage to advertisers in the form of addressable and more personalized TV advertising, which allows for unique real-time targeting of custom, complex audiences. This means auto retailers and their agency partners can realize much more detailed measurement and performance tracking in comparison to traditional index-based TV advertising media buying.   Today's OTT digital advertising services allow automotive retailers to broadcast CTV ads to their locally targeted audiences using data-driven programmatic ad purchasing methods. OTT advertising for dealers is essential today for optimized advertising personalization. Local dealers can deliver a specific commercial to a particular person or household. Instead of running the same ad for all viewers of a TV show, dealers can run a variety of ad spots to different people depending on any number of household demographics or characteristics. While watching similar programs, consumers will be shown different dealership ads that better correspond to their likes, interests, age, level of income, etc.  Why are dealers so excited about this?   When executing through PureCars platform, dealers can average lower than $35 CPM and ensure those impressions are only delivered to the target audience, which helps dealers eliminate wasted ad dollars commonly associated with widescale broadcast or cable television buys. A well structured broadcast or cable television buy that would conservatively range from $7-$20+ CPM across all viewers, whether the audience is in the market to buy or not. As dealerships experience ongoing margin erosion, it's important for them to explore opportunities to optimize historically wasteful traditional media channels.   Traditional vs. Digital  To accurately compare traditional to digital, advertisers must apply calculations to the amount of in-market shoppers that are reached by each campaign type. For instance, when assessing TV, assuming 11.51% (14.8 MM SAAR projected for 2020 ) of households will buy a new vehicle in a given year, and a 3-month purchase cycle , that would put the conservative, effective CPM for in-market shoppers reached in traditional television between $230 and $689 (see breakdown below), vs. $30-40 CPM in highly targeted OTT. Currently, 49% of all video ad impressions today are through OTT channels, and the lower CPMs mean dealers can reach in-market shoppers with more frequency and less wasted dollars in their finite ad budget.  According to the Video Advertising Bureau , it is believed that ad spending on addressable TV will reach $3.3 billion by the end of 2020, up 343% dating back to 2016. OTT content will play a large part for users. Premium video ads via OTT are expected to achieve a 98% completion rate according to Freewheel, and this by far outperforms that of tablets, smartphones, and even desktop platforms.  COVID-19 Saw Breakthrough Growth of CTV  Keep in mind that the popularity of CTV exploded during the lockdowns of COVID-19 earlier this year. Media watchdog Ofcom illustrated in its annual study that adults - many stuck indoors - spent 40% of their waking hours in front of a screen, on average. However, time spent on subscription streaming and CTV services doubled during April. Furthermore, during the lockdown, adults spent an average of six hours and 25 minutes each day staring at screens.  The report also indicated that people watched streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ for slightly over one hour per day, and 12 million people joined a service they hadn't used previously. Three million of these viewers had never subscribed to any service before.  Highly Engaged Audiences  What's the magic elixir behind OTT? Experts believe that OTT content offers a highly engaged audience, and it also offers an effective medium to drive critical message performance. What's more, mobile measurement platforms and content providers now include resources and insights that allow marketers to attribute app installs, registrations, and session data to OTT ads.   What's more, clickable display ad formats on popular content platforms such as Fire TV and Roku provide a direct-response tool that offers lower acquisition costs than traditional TV ads.  As automotive retailers and their agency partners enter the OTT content space in the foreseeable future, those that begin reaching car shoppers through this platform will be positioning themselves for greater competitive local dominance and overall market share impact as they outpace late arriving competitors. While this will eventually be a crowded field, similar to local search advertising, the automotive retailers that work with the right OTT advertising partner have a unique opportunity to stand out in this rapid transformation of digital advertising. 
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.
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Video Campaigns: The High-Performance Marketing Solution for Automotive Retail

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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 its 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 achieving 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 non-interruptive ad formats, interactivity, and a compelling reason to choose you over the competition.
Case Study: How a Luxury Dealership Won With Geofencing Marketing

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Imagine a world where you can target consumers actively shopping and visiting other car dealerships. With geofencing marketing technology, now you can. Geofencing marketing allows for businesses to target their ads to people based on the physical places they go, such as buildings, malls, events, competitors’ dealerships, repair centers, and other locations with a large concentration of likely car shoppers. What is geofencing? Through the use of mobile GPS and app technology, businesses and advertisers can create a virtual geofence around a target building or area. When consumers enter the designated area (with their smartphone location finder on), companies can capture the mobile device IDs and use that information to target their mobile phones with advertising while they are in the geofence — for up to the next 30 days after they leave the geofenced area. These consumers will see those ads when using mobile apps such as Angry Birds, Weather.com, etc., or when they visit mobile-enabled websites that accept advertising. Who should dealers target? Dealerships are constantly looking for new ways to disrupt their own marketing budgets with forward-thinking solutions that drive measurable foot traffic to their showrooms. According to Google, 71% of a car shopper’s interactions take place on a mobile device, making geofencing the ideal hyper-targeted advertising solution for dealers. Here are three of the many uses of geofencing for dealerships: Competitor conquesting. Target your competitor dealerships when shoppers visit them. Customer loyalty. Geofence your own dealership to keep it top of mind or to offer additional incentives for customers who are currently shopping. Major local events. Target major events with a large number of people who may be potential vehicle buyers (like the annual new-car show or auto enthusiast gatherings). Why geofencing is great for marketing There’s an old saying that 50% of advertising works, but you don’t know which 50%. Geofencing, while not perfect, gets you a lot closer to knowing what is actually working and not working in driving traffic to your dealership. Here’s what you can track with this proprietary advertising system: How many times your ad was shown (impressions/ads served and seen by consumers). How many people saw your ads and called your dealership. How many people actually saw your ads and visited your dealership website (enabling measurement of how much it cost to drive each person to your website). What geofenced locations are driving the most awareness and activity. How many people actually saw your ads and visited your dealership (also enabling measurement of the cost to drive each person to your dealership), providing a truer ROI measurement of your advertising spend. Case study: How a luxury dealership attracted 500 new customer prospects to its website The following case study reveals how geotargeting enabled a luxury car dealership to attract 500 new customer prospects to its website and 132 prospects to its showroom. A Volvo dealership in the New York Tri-State metro wanted to increase brand awareness among its target audience of luxury car buyers, and bring those prospective buyers into its showroom. While leveraging geofencing marketing, the dealership and its marketing partner took these steps: The dealership worked with the marketing partner’s team to develop custom creative assets (banner ads). The marketing team built geofences around areas with a very high concentrations of car shoppers in the luxury market, including local competitive dealerships. The marketing team set up a conversion zone around the actual dealership so it could successfully track customers who entered the established-target geofences and those who saw or clicked on the ads served, as well as those who actually visited the dealership’s showroom. Along the way, the marketing partner and its team optimized the geofencing campaign, which included: Running ads during the best-performing times of the day; Eliminating low-performing apps and websites; Testing the best-performing creative assets (turning off ads with low performance); and Reallocating campaign budget to the geofences driving the most foot traffic to their dealership. What was geofencing’s impact? The dealership and marketing team gained the following results and information from the geotargeting campaign: Over a 30-day campaign test period, the marketing team delivered over 300,000 impressions; 500 clicks were driven to the website (exceeding click-through-rate industry norms by 50%); The campaign drove a minimum of 132 people to the dealership; The average cost per visit was approximately $21 . The marketing team was able to track the dealership’s natural foot traffic (people who did not see its ads and went through the target geofenced areas) compared to campaign advertising foot traffic (those who did see its ads and went through the target geofenced areas). While natural foot traffic averaged 0.5%, campaign advertising traffic averaged 1.20%, giving the dealership a 140% geo-conversion lift in foot traffic. Overall, geofencing marketing offers a way for dealers to effectively spend their marketing dollars on building brand awareness. Most importantly, they reach people who have indicated they’re in the market to purchase a vehicle. And dealerships can do it in a way that drives additional foot traffic to their showrooms in an efficient, cost-effective manner. Geofencing is not a replacement for dealership’s advertising budget, but it’s a great addition to the advertising mix. Justin Croxton is the managing partner at Propellant Media, LLC , a digital marketing and media solutions provider, offering geofencing marketing and programmatic display solutions to auto dealerships, agencies, and companies. Visit us at www.propellant.media .
Social Media and SEO Give the Best Return for Automotive Marketers

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Digital ad spend is growing. Marketers need to know how to optimize it. Our company recently conducted a study to help marketers improve the effectiveness of their email marketing, discover benchmarks for specific industries, and help compare and identify where to improve. In the report, we assessed the current state of email marketing based on a research study surveying 2,510 email marketers from a range of business sizes and industries around the world. Here’s a look at our findings for the automotive industry. Social media and SEO deliver highest ROI In our poll of automotive marketers, 28% cited both social media marketing and SEO as the channels that delivered the strongest ROI for their company. Search PPC (21%) was third, followed by e-mail marketing, which delivered a 19% ROI. Our research found that display advertising (15%), as well as direct mail and social pay per click (PPC), at 13% each, were the “middle-of-the-pack” channels. Marketers said that content marketing and affiliate marketing (11% each) provided the weakest ROI. ROI compared with budget Based on the numbers we found, automotive marketers are now adjusting their budgets to reflect the marketing channels and techniques with the best return on investment. Sixty percent have increased their email marketing budget, while 55% have dedicated more money to their SEO and display advertising budgets. They have also increased their marketing budgets by 53% for social PPC, 50% for search PPC, and 48% for content marketing. According to our data, marketers increased their spending by 46% for direct mail, and 45% for affiliate marketing — even though these three channels had the weakest ROI. Metrics to measure email marketing The study also sought to figure out which email marketing metrics automotive marketers use, and how they measure success. Most marketers (31%) said that an increase in subscribers is their leading metric. Twenty-one percent focus on high-funnel engagement metrics such as opens or clicks, while 18% of marketers both use mid-funnel conversion metrics such as form-fills (e.g., subscriptions, lead generation, and inquiries), and don’t have any metrics that they focus on. Only 12% percent use lower-funnel conversion metrics like revenue, sales, downloads, or event attendance to determine success. Our report found that automotive marketers regard email marketing as the most valued channel for increasing ROI. The next step, then, is to identify exactly which metrics help measure email marketing success the best, as well as how much of their company’s total budget should realistically be devoted to the practice.  Michal Leszczynski is content marketing manager at GetResponse , responsible for coordinating content marketing projects. His main mission is to provide valuable and educational content for marketers — those just starting out, as well as those already rocking in the online world. You can follow Michal on Twitter @mrleszczynski .