The 16th Digital Dealer Conference concluded earlier this month in Atlantic City. Being at a new venue and for the first time in the Northeast, it seemed as if there were many attendees experiencing it for the first time. With overflowing breakout session rooms, packed general sessions and great traffic in the exhibit hall, it’s no wonder it was a huge success.
I had the opportunity to present at the conference and was humbled to find a packed room of dealers eager to hear my session “Digital Domination.” In case you missed it, here is a brief summary on what I shared and how you too can take your digital marketing to the next level.
The consumer life cycle is changing. We’re seeing the average time that consumers shop for a car increase from one to two weeks, to a month or longer. The average adult will spend over 5 hours per day online. According to AutoTrader Group, a research and marketing firm, the average car shopper spends more than 11 hours online researching cars and only 3½ hours offline, including trips to the dealership. Two years ago, the average time spent offline was more than six hours. Consumers who are in the market are spending 95 percent of their time on sites other than the dealership’s site. How then does a dealership bring consumers back to their site?
The United States itself accounts for almost 25% of all online display ads. With the average person being served more than 1,700 banner ads per month, it’s becoming harder than it has ever been to attract consumer attention. People trying to watch a YouTube video invariably have their mouse positioned in the right spot ready to click “Skip Ad” the moment they have the option. Some people refuse to watch live TV, preferring to record it just so that they can skip the commercials. Online ads so proliferate the Internet that most of them are ignored. The reason is that most of the ads being delivered have no relevance to the consumer.
Let’s talk about the basic types of digital marketing for a moment. There are several types of marketing techniques that digital marketing agencies attempt to better target their audiences and deliver more relevant content to the right people at, hopefully, the time at which they will be most interested. Retargeting is simply marketing to a consumer based on the fact that they’ve visited your site in the past. Behavioral targeting is identifying what your target audience would be doing online and then targeting consumers who take those actions. Audience segmentation is targeting based on the demography of the sites that people are visiting. Geo-targeting is marketing to people in your dealership’s PMA and/or surrounding areas. And, finally, pay-per-click (PPC) marketing is targeting consumers based on search terms they are using.
While these segmentation techniques do hold value, most digital marketing agencies use browser cookies to accomplish tracking goals. The problem with old school cookies is that this type of targeting is limited to people who have enabled their browses to accept cookies. An increasing trend in technology is that more browsers are changing their default setting to block third-party cookies, which takes away your ability to use them. Additionally, legislation threatens to impact the ability of marketers to continue offering cookie tracking with recent proposals calling for universal opt-out mechanisms.
There does, however, exist an alternative that is more effective and will save your dealership money. The next generation of digital marketing is to link consumers based on their IP addresses to their home addresses. By doing this, dealerships will reach their targets 100 percent of the time so there are no wasted impressions. This targeting is so precise that it’s literally one-to-one down to a specific household or business. With this type of targeting, you not only reach buyers early in the car-buying process but you also have the potential to reach them before they show any interest online.
Dealerships who recognize that technology and privacy are becoming more front and center, and that the ability to reach consumers through old school digital marketing targeting techniques is decreasing, will recognize the importance of learning a new way. Continuing to waste money on old technology that is becoming obsolete through consumer privacy concerns, technology companies integrating anti-tracking features into their software and legislation against these techniques looming, is simply a waste of time and money.
There was much more information included in my presentation including examples of marketing pieces and best practices. If you weren’t able to attend Digital Dealer or my session, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a copy of my presentation. Thanks again to all of the dealers who attended my session—and to Digital Dealer for a great conference!
Jamil Zabaneh is J&L Marketing’s Vice President of National Accounts. An expert in automotive marketing, Jamil has spoken at 20 Groups, OEM conferences, parts and service clubs, and universities across the country. He leads all partnerships as they relate to OEM accounts and large automotive groups, delivering marketing strategies and solutions for national and regional programs. As a Gen Y himself, he understands the importance of digital marketing and—more importantly—how to effectively use it.