Automotive advertising agencies who expect to be here tomorrow must apply tomorrow’s technology today or they will follow their shuttered auto dealer clients into the ranks of the unemployed. The consolidation of the auto industry is a necessary reaction to a shrinking economy and the proof of two basic rules of business — supply must follow demand and survival of the fittest insures that it will. The secret to survival for automotive advertising agencies and their auto dealer clients in a challenging market is to offer more for less and the technology being designed to improve sales processes on the Internet provide efficiencies that will determine the winners and the losers.
Integrating proven real world automotive advertising best practices with maturing virtual world selling processes that rely on developing technology on the Internet allows forward thinking automotive advertising agencies to blur the line between the real world of brick and mortar auto dealerships and the new virtual showrooms being built on the Internet Super Highway. Automotive advertising 101 teaches that you must go where your customers are if you want to reach them and with 93% of car shoppers confirming that they start their car buying process on the Internet that part of the marketing and sales process is easy. The hard part that automotive advertising agencies must recognize is that the one constant that has survived on the World Wide Web is human nature. Customers empowered by the easy access of information on the Internet are no longer dependent on auto dealerships — real or virtual — to determine what vehicle they will purchase and who they will buy it from. Online shoppers are looking for a new or used vehicle, not an auto dealership, and automotive advertising agencies need to convert from push/pull advertising methods to pull/push techniques preferred by an educated consumer.
Of course there is no need to throw the baby out with the bath water! Automotive advertising agencies must use conventional wisdoms built on the stable foundation of human nature supported by the efficiencies offered by new automotive advertising applications designed to crash through the glass wall of the Internet to preserve both market share and profits for their auto dealer clients. The easiest way to satisfy the customer and the auto dealer — in that order — is to give the customers what they want, when they want it — which is immediately — and to do it in such a way that the customers feel that they are buying a vehicle vs. being sold one. That is where the use of new automotive advertising technology and the related improved selling processes come in.
Giving the customers what they want — which is a vehicle not an auto dealership — suggests that automotive advertising agencies must promote individual vehicles on the Internet, not their auto dealer clients. While this may seem counter intuitive to old school car guys who presume that they must sell themselves before they can sell their vehicles, it is in keeping with equally established wisdom that suggest that automotive advertising doesn’t sell cars it just attracts customers who want to buy one. Simply put, the best advertising message in the world has no value if no one sees it and since customers are searching the web for individual vehicles that is the bait that will have them bite the hook that has the auto dealer on the other end of the line.
It is an accepted fact that cars sell cars and brick and mortar auto dealerships have gravitated to car rows or auto malls to take advantage of the attraction of having as many vehicles as possible in one location to draw real world car shoppers to their individual facilities. The leveraged advertising of multiple competing dealerships and the added value and convenience of one stop shopping for comparable makes and models at one central location is a value for consumers that has survived on the Internet Super Highway. Established third party inventory based websites have a proven place in today’s online automotive advertising plans. Most auto dealerships already rely on the leverage of their collected inventories of literally millions of vehicles from thousands of auto dealerships to attract online new and used vehicle shoppers. The search engine optimization, S.E.O., realized by these third party sites coupled with their localized search engine marketing, S.E.M., investments drawn from the collected revenues of the auto dealer clients that participate in these communal sites provide a competitive advantage that no individual dealer or even a large dealer group can compete with. New technologies being applied to this established business model promise an even better return on investment, R.O.I., for the auto dealers that participate.
ronsmap is a game changing online car buying/selling site for both consumers and dealers that exemplifies the value of improving technologies in existing Internet based marketing platforms. It makes car buying fast, comprehensive, transparent and live. What makes it unique is their new technology that gives consumers unparalleled buying and negotiating power over the car buying/selling processes including the opportunity to accommodate For Sale By Owner listings. Their unique value for dealers is that it provides them with an unprecedented level of sales intelligence on consumer leads, and it enables automotive advertising agencies to promote and engage consumers via social networks.
With existing search engine filters and third party websites online shoppers have to scroll through lists of hundreds of vehicles while clicking and drilling down on each site since not all vehicles for sale are aggregated on any one exit on the Internet Super Highway. Auto dealers that pay the most are typically promoted in the top listings limiting honest competitive comparisons and auto dealers are often non-responsive to general inquiry leads sourced from these lead resellers. Auto Dealers are equally challenged by existing marketing platforms that do not provide visibility or insights into consumer’s other vehicles of interest discovered during their online shopping trips and their communications are often mid sales cycle starting long after the initial research by the consumer has been completed. The R.O.I. for auto dealers for leads purchased from multiple third party providers are reduced by duplications and smaller dealers not willing or able to pay for a premium position can’t compete equally with the larger advertisers on these sites.
ronsmap is a new technology driven Internet solution scheduled to launch at the 2010 NADA Convention in Orlando, Florida. They provide the leverage of multiple inventories posted on a unique map-like internal search engine driven by consumer preferences on a local level that places all vehicles that fit the consumer’s search criteria on the same page with no prejudice to premium positions purchased by the dealers. Their proprietary application provides a level playing field for auto dealers while offering consumers one stop shopping across multiple brands, models and dealerships with the added value of comparisons to For Sale By Owner listings.
ronsmap also accommodates today’s consumer preference for pull/push marketing by integrating a unique social networking application into their platform. Marketing to consumers in social networks requires resources, tools and skill sets to compliment and supplement auto dealer’s existing online selling efforts. ronsmap provides all of these elements in a cost effective, scalable manner while delivering consolidated market intelligence not currently offered through other resources.
Their vBack application enables auto dealers to multiply leads by leveraging the word of mouth, W.O.M., phenomenon associated with viral messages distributed through social networking. This proprietary process embeds a social media engine directly within the vehicles posted on their community site as well as on the auto dealers individual websites. It extends the auto dealers reach, promotes confidence for consumers through their solicited comments from their online friends in response to their request for feedback on their intended purchase and it drives more consumers to the auto dealers websites.
Another unique value added feature provided by the new technologies implemented by ronsmap is exemplified by their SellersVantage application. It allows auto dealers to communicate with online consumers in real time early in the decision cycle. It offers auto dealers a comparative view of what other vehicles and feature/benefits the consumer is looking for, market availability to determine if they have the only vehicle that fits the consumer’s stated needs and comparative pricing analytics to know how they rank in the market before they start negotiations to improve closing ratios and preserve profit.
The Intelli-Leads offered by their applications are very robust leads that go way beyond the typical customer name, email address, contact information and questions about the vehicle that they are interested in. They include market intelligence, comparative intelligence, social demographic and social profile intelligence that define the prospect and that allows the dealer to insure that their first offer in the online negotiation process is competitive while preserving gross profit.
Technology as applied to enhanced marketing platforms like ronsmap addresses the new opportunities for auto dealers to improve their R.O.I. from third party lead providers and inventory based websites but it doesn’t reflect the equally valued benefits being offered to improve their R.O.I. from their individual S.E.O. efforts and improved conversion rates from their own websites. Once again, conventional wisdoms must be applied by automotive advertising agencies to provide more for less for their auto dealer clients by recognizing the need to establish brand identity and top of the mind awareness for long term dealer recognition in the market tempered with the need to increase sales and profits today so the auto dealer — and their automotive advertising agency — can survive until tomorrow.
Since consumers are looking for vehicles on the Internet vs. auto dealers it is only logical that the auto dealers should post their vehicles online individually. The trick is to get a single vehicle to stand out from the traffic on the Internet Super Highway. Once again, technology has provided the solution.
Video has surfaced as the media of choice for today’s consumers who grew up watching T.V. and who have applied their preference for Video to their attraction to Internet channels like You Tube and all things video. The search engines role on the newly emerging World Wide Web is to facilitate the consumer’s online search by giving them what they want and since consumers have selected video as their media of choice search engines like Google have decided to give it to them.
The algorithms that drive Google have been adjusted to provide a weighted value to video, a fact that has not escaped automotive advertising agencies responsible for improving the S.E.O. for their auto dealer clients. Video presentations have shown up on auto dealers websites with file names that integrate key word phrases to match the auto dealers websites chosen online identity along with similar embedded meta tags and they are even being pushed onto the search engines through You Tube with their own URL’s to extend the SEO of the auto dealers virtual showrooms. The value of this enhanced S.E.O. solution is that all of these postings are sourced back to the auto dealers websites which supports the automotive advertising agencies desire to build dealer branding and top of the mind awareness. The ability to take this exposure to the next level is realized by applying the same philosophy of extending the dealers online exposure to their individual vehicles since, after all, that is what the online customer is searching for.
SiSTeR Technologies is an automotive advertising vendor using proprietary cutting edge technologies that has introduced an automated video production platform called VideoCarLot with associated applications including vShock and VidBrid. They are able to convert the still pictures already posted on the dealers websites into professionally produced videos using human voice and existing video footage with integrated search words, meta tags and individual URLs. These finished productions are then placed onto the auto dealers own websites to increase their highly prized and search engine favored video content plus they are individually pushed through their dedicated API with You Tube to post each vehicle to all linked third party advertisers and to the search engines directly onto the You Tube channel. Since You Tube is a growing search engine second only to their parent company Google the enhanced S.E.O. to the dealer is obvious. More importantly, it allows the auto dealer to present their vehicles to online consumers vs. their auto dealerships while anchoring the associated lead back to the sourcing dealer. Once again, technology has provided a win-win scenario placing the consumer’s interests ahead of the auto dealer’s while satisfying the needs of both.
The automotive advertising agencies of today that apply the cutting edge automotive advertising technologies of tomorrow are guaranteed a seat at the table in the future. Today’s justified consolidation in the auto industry has opened problems for many and solutions for the few that are determined to survive. Just as the forest fire burns the trees to allow for new growth, the key for automotive advertising agencies to survive to grow another day lies in the automotive advertising technologies and applications that they use today.
Ad Agency Online, L.L.C.