A short decade ago, dealers reluctantly accepted the fact that they had to include a photo with each online classified listing. This alone added new costs and processes to vehicle marketing that have snowballed to where we are today. From that point on, it quickly moved to two or three photos, and finally, several photos per vehicle. As an industry, that’s where it has sat for the past several years as dealers have operated on the assumption that multiple photos, a list of features, and maybe a seller’s note or two would pull in the internet leads necessary to stay competitive.
With video, the competitive landscape has shifted again. Many dealers are already using video as a marketing tool and six out of ten dealers are telling us they’ll be finding a video solution this year. Video has become less of a premium item and more of a necessity to keep up with the competition.
According to comScore, in January, U.S. viewers watched over 32 billion online videos and the average YouTube viewer watched 50 percent more videos compared to January 2009. While the amount of online videos being viewed continues to climb, vehicle videos are not being fully leveraged by most dealers and frankly, that’s a shame.
Online video drives consumer action. Think about it. Unlike a TV commercial where the ad is being foisted on an audience that wants nothing more than to get back to the program they were watching and, if they have DVR, they’re fast forwarding; consumers viewing online video actively sought that video content out. If you have what they want, they’re going to take action.
The concept is driven home by the fact that major classified websites all report that vehicle videos increase conversion. Kbb.com is in the process of optimizing videos in The Trusted Marketplace℠, Kelley Blue Book’s vehicle classified site, and their initial testing echoes similar results. If it’s true for classified websites, it’s also true for your own website. In addition, reelSEO.com believes that video content is now factored into Google’s search algorithm: simply having videos on your website will boost your site’s position in search results.
Leveraging YouTube also creates a positive Video Search Engine Optimization (VSEO) impact. Google comprises over 70 percent of total search traffic and consistently indexes YouTube content and sites with embedded YouTube videos so they frequently show up on the first page of Google search results, assuming the search terms match the video’s title, description, tags, etc. This drives car shoppers from Google to YouTube to watch videos of your inventory. On YouTube, they’ll see your vehicles, a link to your website, and your contact information.
Coming out of NADA there was a lot of confusion in the dealer community about whether or not Google would begin to recognize “stitched” video content—the kind of videos that are automatically created from photos and vehicle data—and rank it lower because it wasn’t “real” video. This certainly hasn’t happened yet; however, the majority of stitched videos out there still contain non-stitched content whether it’s the video’s intro about the dealership, callouts within the video highlighting low mileage vehicles, CARFAX reports, CPO programs, or even footage of a sports car laying a patch of rubber on asphalt. They’ve also replaced the robot voices with human voices—among the better solutions, at least.
That’s not to say stitched videos won’t eventually be replaced by true video walkarounds on a more widespread basis as the associated cost and resource issues begin to be figured out. For now, stitched video can be had at a fraction of the price with an arguably more polished presentation when you take into account the additional challenges of capturing good audio and not jostling the handheld camera so much that your audience gets motion sickness. No matter what, take advantage of online videos on your website, classified sites you advertise on, and on YouTube to maximize your presence in search results and among car shoppers.
Alex Schoeneberger is the product marketing manager of CDMdata, Inc., a Kelley Blue Book company. For more information about CDMdata and Kelley Blue Book dealer products, services and solutions including VideoLot, please call 866-927-5744, or visit www.800bluebook.com.
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