Put your digital ads to good use

Charlie Bass, Vice President, Sales, PureCars

How one company helps dealers leverage data to make more informed decisions about their digital ad spending

Car dealers spend a significant amount of money on digital advertising. But not everyone is keeping tabs on their advertising attribution, nor are they able to see the big picture of what their true return on investment really is.

This is where companies with digital solutions aimed at helping dealerships dominate the digital ad realm get their foot in the door. They exist to help automotive retailers better understand where their money is going, what it’s doing, and how they can boost profit margins through the digital ad space, according to Charlie Bass, Vice President of Sales at PureCars.

“Our objective is to help dealers leverage data and insights to make more intelligent decisions in both their advertising spend, and what’s really working to help drive sales,” said Bass. “It’s a numbers thing.”

Helping dealers with their digital ads spend can mean anything from pay-per-click advertising on Google or Bing, to retargeting on popular Canadian websites, as well as Facebook advertising and everything else that revolves around digital media.

PureCars is a U.S.-based company that launched in 2008 and only recently (nearly two years ago) entered the Canadian market. One of their products, known as SmartAdvertising that was
built specifically for the auto industry,
is a platform that comprises search engine, marketing, and optimization.

It touches on areas such as search (search-relevant features for customers), social (Facebook), display (to boost retargeting and brand awareness), and video (YouTube).

“When dealers buy pay-per-click ads on Google or Bing, which also includes display advertising, our tool can help them with prospecting efforts to identify market shoppers who are actively looking at other sites, and then serve up display ads to entice them to come to your website,” said Bass.

PureCars can also include a code throughout the dealership website to ensure they have visibility into which vehicles are being looked at by consumers. The data they pull includes details like the trim level that was searched, or in some cases the VIN on a used car.

That data can then be used to display ads related to that specific vehicle. Even if the consumer did not submit a lead to the store or call the dealership, the data from their search can be used to display an ad that reveals a drop in price on the vehicle they searched. “It’s almost Amazon-esque, if you’ve ever put something into your Amazon cart and not made the purchase,” said Bass.

SmartAdvertising also touches on fixed operations to attract consumers into a dealership’s service drive to sell them a set of tires or offer them an oil change, for example. And because it’s digital, it allows auto retailers to track their ad spends more easily than direct-mail.

“I think the fixed operations side is a huge opportunity for growth, and I still see maybe only 10 per cent of dealerships in Canada investing digital dollars into that side of the business, which is really what keeps the lights on at the store,” said Bass.

Another tool they offer is called Signal: an attribution suite that helps identify the many signals that drive people into the store to buy the vehicle. It allows dealerships to measure all of their advertising attribution to better understand what is actually impacting their sales. They can use the tool to look at all the different touch points a consumer makes, which Bass said could be as many as 20 different websites, before they purchase a vehicle.

“Signal uncovers what impact each of those websites had in the path to purchase. And again, this data is anonymized to comply with the privacy laws,” said Bass. “But we can then tell the dealer at a pretty high certainty, about 80-plus per cent, how effective each of their advertising mediums are and what is actually driving people in to buy vehicles.”

It all sounds rosy, but dealers hear a variety of tunes every day and are constantly urged to adapt, integrate, and ensure they are paving their digital path along the industry’s evolution. So why should they care? As Bass explains, they are investing tens of thousands of dollars or more, monthly, which equates to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in digital advertising. As a result, dealers need to know what this spending is actually doing for their business — what is their ROI?

If a dealer spends, for example, $100-200 to drive a consumer into the dealership and ultimately purchase a vehicle, PureCars will be able to share with the dealer how much gross profit they made on that vehicle thanks to the company’s tools.

“Or they can do that on their own as well, where they can then give a true ROI beyond what we would consider a vanity performance metric, or KPI. Because at the end of the day, click-through rate or cost-to-click, doesn’t sell cars,” said Bass.

He believes his company can create a unique experience for buyers online, similar to how Netflix can ensure the TV shows or movies displayed on a customer’s page are unique to them. In the case of a dealership’s website, the goal would be to ensure the ads create a unique experience thanks to a unique offer that is based on where the consumer is at in their buying journey.

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