What You Need to Know About DMPs

by David Metter

DMPs are a topic gaining escalating attention as we head into 2017. A dark cloud of big, irrelevant data still lingers above the automotive industry, just waiting to be analyzed. What are DMPs? For those of you that don’t know, the acronym stands for Data Management Platforms. Think of a DMP as a digital warehouse of data, designed to consolidate and organize consumer data from multiple sources all in one place so that it can be put to good use.

eMarketer addressed the need for advertisers to utilize DMPs back in 2013 – a near decade ago in digital time. “If data is digital marketing’s currency, then the DMP is its bank.” So, when it comes down to whether or not to use DMPs either at the dealer or manufacturer level, really dig deep and ask yourself… do you like money?

If the answer is yes, DMPs exist to give you insights that will help you make more and save more (money that is). DMPs consolidate past and real-time consumer purchase and behavioral data across ad exchanges, networks and devices. This allows for granular audience segmentation and targeting that goes far beyond standard demographics.

DMPs aren’t just a place to aggregate and store information. They help us find the most important data points that will actually help our business. And I don’t mean help down the line or months from now, but this very second. DMPs empower us to take action and deploy personalized campaigns with quantifiable conviction. These platforms are the secret to affirming what every advertiser claims they will do, which of course is to “place the right ad, in front of the right consumer, at the right time.” Sound familiar? Without DMPs, these empty promises would remain just that - empty and unproven.

DMPs are the ultimate source of budgetary efficiency for both digital and traditional spending. By illuminating a clean, 360-degree view of a consumer’s online and offline actions, DMPs pinpoint how far along car shoppers are in the buying process. They identify who in the market has already purchased a vehicle and if they bought it from a competitive dealership or brand. On the contrary, they show which consumers are just beginning their research journey, still months away from a buying decision.

Put simply, DMPs hold your campaigns accountable for their performance and help to guide your ongoing efforts to be more relevant, impactful, and efficient with where you spend your money and who you spend your money on. Specifically for the automotive sector, DMPs may be the solution to a lot of our sales attribution problems. Everyone wants to stake claim for a vehicle sold. A DMP may be just what we need to properly assign credit where credit’s due.

When asked about DMPs, Erik Lukas, Retail Operations Manager of Subaru of America said, “If there’s ever any hope of attributing all these touch points along the shopping journey, you’ve got to have some place where all the data rolls up and you can analyze it as one set.” Aside from attribution, another much-needed use for DMP-derived insights would be for one-to-one marketing and campaign personalization. Both are becoming increasingly necessary in order for a message to stand out and resonate with car shoppers.

According to MarTech Today, “A DMP offers a central location for marketers to access and manage data like mobile identifiers and cookie IDs to create targeting segments for their digital advertising campaigns.” This is a tremendous asset for automakers when it comes to eliminating waste. For example, if you are a luxury vehicle manufacturer, DMPs can help you only target individuals or households that you know have a net income of at least $200,000 per year.

In summary, the biggest uses for DMPs in the auto industry include:

  • More accurate sales attribution
  • More opportunities for personalization and one-to-one marketing
  • Ideal audience targeting and segmentation

Data management platforms are about unification – unifying consumer data from one source to the next as their shopping journey becomes more and more complex. Big data fails to hold value unless it can be applied to better influence your most lucrative audience segment. Other industries have been using DMPs for years. Automotive has such a complex business model given our three-tier system and the fact that most transactions happen offline. Therefore, we need DMPs more than anyone.

The opportunities DMPs provide are limitless. But don’t get too wrapped up in all the ways you could use them to your advantage. Remember your one objective at the end of the day is to increase dealership revenue by selling more units and obtaining more ROs. Above all, SALES is the metric that matters and DMPs should be used primarily to generate more sales. Everything else is just noise.  

We’ve Got the Data! Now What? (Top 3 Takeaways from the J.D. Power Data Expert Panel)

by David Metter

If anyone experienced the great misfortune of not being able to attend AutoHook’s J.D. Power AMR panel that had attendees lined up against the walls, I’ve got you covered. Below is a condensed collection of key insights from the session, We’ve Got the Data! Now What?

I know you’re probably all tired of hearing the term “big data.” You may even be a little nauseous from it – thus the critical need for this panel and the recap below.

First, let me formally introduce our superstar lineup. I do have to take a moment to say these leaders are not just auto experts with impressive titles. Each has proven a genuine desire to improve the way our industry operates and the way we share data for the benefit of all – and that’s huge.

It’s funny (and a little ridiculous) how often the solutions to the world’s biggest problems come from plain old common sense. We all have a tendency to overcomplicate even the most evident of concepts. Perhaps the secret to solving all this big data ambiguity is to take a step back and “under-complicate” the idea.

Three overarching themes dominated our big data discussion:

1. The largest obstruction to big data in the automotive industry is the automotive industry itself.

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

I’m not pointing any fingers, but it’s no secret that our three-tier system makes things more difficult. It creates large disconnects in communication from one layer to the next. Dean Evans points out, “We know at Hyundai you can’t do decent business today unless you are connecting those layers.”

We also know it’s rare for what happens at the dealer level to be properly recorded and communicated at the OEM level. That’s just how it is. Allow me to propose an idea. If knowledge is power, then sharing data is power. Imagine the influence we could claim if we all stopped being selfish with our data. A united industry is an unbreakable industry.

Kelly McNearney adds, “The challenge for tier three in this big data game is getting some team spirit going where dealers will actually share with the OE and the OE will share with the dealers, and then you’ve got really powerful stuff you can use. Then you can really start to understand who your consumer even is and what their actions are.”

We’ve completed step one, identifying the problem. Now it’s time to complete step two, taking action to solve the problem. So, who’s taking action? AutoHook already has by opening our API and the attribution data that comes with it to the entire industry free of charge. CDK and Dealer.com are doing it by creating centralized data dashboards so OEMs can have a better view of the consumer sales data collected at the dealership level. So who’s next?

2. More data is not necessarily better.

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

Pictured: Jenny Watson & David Metter

The secret is not obtaining more data. Sometimes it’s about doing more with what you have at your fingertips. It’s about taking smarter, more efficient actions. What’s the end goal? Jenny Watson says, “At the end of the day it’s really about units sold and the number of repair orders generated,” and she’s right! More is not better. It’s just more. An emphasis on obtaining more data may be the root cause of why the subject has become so complex.

It’s also important to note that each channel has its own specific set of measurable KPIs. Regardless of what they are, if you can’t validate that these channels resulted in a sale or a service order, then don’t waste your money advertising on them. It’s that simple.

3. Data Management Platforms (DMPs) are important to use and understand, but never at the cost of simple, actionable insights.

DMPs have been around in other industries for years. In a lot of ways, they’re starting to replace that “big data” term. Both dealers and OEMs should take advantage of these systems in order to better serve their network. Dean Evans says, “Feeding the dealer network is always paramount.” In addition, because of our three-tier system, the auto industry has the most complicated business model in existence. Therefore more than anyone, we need DMPs. They exist and are designed to help us – so use them.

Erik Lukas shined a lot of light on this subject. “There’s room for both,” he says. “There’s the big insights that come from DMPs that we need to unlock, but you still can’t ignore some of the things that are right in front of your face.” Erik gives the example of Subaru’s highly successful Dog Tested campaign and how it all began. “A key insight for us that we spawned a whole campaign off of was that 2/3 of Subaru owners own pets, and of those, 70% are dogs. Clearly, that’s not a big data or DMP derived result, but we built a whole disruption campaign around this one key insight and it’s really resonated with our customers.”

Kelly McNearney is a big advocate of DMPs especially for the automotive vertical. However, she speculates DMPs are perhaps given too much credit. “Some of the best data we have is actually something quite small, but that we can take action on,” said Kelly. She followed that up with a great example. “In the month of November for the past three years in a row, searches for tires have been at an all time high. That is a useful piece of data and that’s not from a machine, it’s not from a DMP, it’s just a simple Google Trend.”

To conclude, if you’re going to remember anything, remember these three things:

  • The only way for us to overcome barriers across tiers is to knock down the egotistical walls that separate us and work together.

  • Instead of more, more, more, when it comes to big data, remember that the end goal is to increase sales and revenue at the dealership level.

  • And lastly, do your research on DMPs and allow this tool to help you – but never ignore the immense potential of a single statistic such as 67% of Subaru owners are animal lovers.

Click here to watch the complete live recording of the J.D. Power AMR panel, We’ve Got the Data! Now What? 

10 Most Memorable Quotes from the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

The 11th Annual J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable

AutoHook was honored to attend the 2016 J.D. Power Automotive Marketing routable at the Bellagio, Las Vegas. From Tuesday, October 25th - Thursday, October 27th, we had the privilege of networking with some of the most brilliant leaders in our industry. Things can get a little chaotic between fast-paced sessions and panel discussions, meetings, parties, and catching up with all our friends, clients, and partners.

We've taken the liberty to bring you the 10 very best, most memorable quotes of 2016 - straight from the mouths of automotive's smartest minds themselves. 

1. “Don’t start with the big data, start with the business needs first. Identify them and then work backwards. I hear too much of let’s get big data let’s get DMPs in the room, but we need to start with the business needs first.” 

- Dean Evans | Chief Marketing Officer, Hyundai Motor America

2. “If there’s ever any hope of attributing all these touch points along the shopping journey, you’ve got to have some place where all the data rolls up and you can analyze it as one set.”

- Erik Lukas | Retail Digital Operations Manager, Subaru of America

3. “There’s no silver bullet when it comes to KPIs. Big Data has become a muse for creativity.” 

- Trace Przybylowicz | Autos Lead: Industry Relations, Facebook

4. “The challenge for tier 3 in this big data game is getting some team spirit going where dealers will actually share with the OE and the OE will share with the dealers, and then you’ve got really powerful stuff you can use. Then you can really start to understand who your consumer is and what their actions are.”

Kelly McNearney | Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Google

5. “A discussion that seems to be both prevalent and imminent is around DMPs. Data management platforms are almost replacing that ‘big data’ term.” 

- David Metter | President, AutoHook powered by Urban Science

6. “A DMP can really give you a full view of who your customer is and how to personalize that experience – that’s the holy grail – making sure your marketing investments are put in the right place.” 

Jenny Watson | Digital & Performance Marketing Expert

7. “Because everyone is online shopping at the dealer’s site, the dealers have a wealth, almost a paralyzing wealth of information. Using that to understand and to empower their marketing - online marketing efforts in particular - can make them much more efficient and vastly more powerful in what they do.”

Jason Knight | COO & Co-Founder, Lotlinx

8. “Unfortunately too many businesses today do focus just on the transaction and not the experience. We assume people don’t want to be there so we treat them that way. The truth is, people don’t come back if it’s not a great experience. If it’s just a transaction, how is that a great experience?”

Beau Boeckmann | President, Galpin Motors

9. “With big data comes big challenges in verifying consumer data. We need free from fraud, viewable consumer content and data.” 

- Mark Pearlstein | Chief Revenue Officer, DoubleVerify

10. “55% of advertisers consider themselves beginners in mobile advertising – that’s alarming.”

Christian Fuller | Chief Relationship Officer, Search Optics

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson

Pictured: Christian Fuller

Pictured: Christian Fuller

Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

Pictured: Beau Boeckmann

Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

Pictured (left to right): Joe Gumm, Bert Boeckmann, Beau Boeckmann, and Bridget Fitzpatrick

Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

Pictured (left to right): Jeremy Anspach, Trace Przybylowicz, Myles Rose, Miran Maric

Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

Pictured (left to right): Andy Jacobson, Kamakshi Sivaramakrishnan, and Mark Pearlstein

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, & David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

Pictured (left to right): Jenny Watson and David Metter

AutoHook’s Vegas Adventure: DSES & JDPowerAMR Highlights

Brought to you by the AutoHook Marketing Team

Last week, the AutoHook team had the privilege of attending these two back-to-back events at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. Our Vegas adventure began with the DrivingSales Executive Summit, or the “perfect storm of awesomeness,” according to DrivingSales Founder & CEO, Jared Hamilton, and ended with the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable – a sophisticated gathering of the smartest minds in data, analytics, and automotive marketing.

 

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 23RD - THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27TH

AutoHook Limos

Pictured: April Rain

Pictured: April Rain

MONDAY, OCTOBER 24TH

AutoHook Booth & Twitter Board

Thank you to all who stopped by our booth. It was awesome sponsoring the GIANT twitter board in the main ballroom. We were honored to keep the tradition alive!

Pictured: Lindsay Kwaselow, Ani Hagopian, Danny Benites, Andrew Pargoff, Brad Somervell - and can't forget KEVIN FRYE on the twitter board!

Pictured: Lindsay Kwaselow, Ani Hagopian, Danny Benites, Andrew Pargoff, Brad Somervell - and can't forget KEVIN FRYE on the twitter board!

Team Dinner at Yellowtail Sushi (Bellagio)

A little team-bonding with an incredible view and incredible food AND service.

Pictured: Ani Hagopian, Lindsay Kwaselow, Andrew Pargoff

Pictured: Ani Hagopian, Lindsay Kwaselow, Andrew Pargoff

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25TH

Innovation Cup Awards

Congratulations to Steve White of Clarivoy for being the 2016 Innovation Cup Award Winner! Clarivoy came out on top and impressed the judges with their proprietary TV Analytics solution. Their new solution is designed to match advertising spot data with website visitors, providing a transparent snapshot of which TV ads influence sales.

Pictured: Jared Hamilton and Steve White

Pictured: Jared Hamilton and Steve White

The four other Innovation Cup finalists also deserve a special shout out and recognition for their participation in the event. More importantly, we commend these industry leaders for their efforts to change the automotive landscape for the better, through new and groundbreaking technology. Congrats to finalists, Tarry Shebesta, President of DriveItNow & Partner at GoMoto, Tom Gallaher, Co-Founder of AutosOnVideo, Bryan Harwood, CTO of Outsell, and Eric Miltsch, President of DealerTeamwork.

 

DSES ---> J.D. Power AMR

The chaos got real during the transition from the DrivingSales Executive Summit to the J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable. Thankfully, AutoHook leveraged some unbreakable teamwork (and a much needed rolling cart) in order to move from the Bellagio Ballroom to the poolside cabanas (in record time of course).

We all got a nice workout during what felt like a six-mile hike down to the pool. Except for our Client Services Manager, Ani…she got a VIP ride with all our swag boxes, courtesy of our Business Development Team Lead, Travis.

Venus-Pool-910419.jpg
Pictured: Ani Hagopian & Travis Laufle

Pictured: Ani Hagopian & Travis Laufle

The J.D. Power AMR Kickoff Gala

Complete with live musical entertainment, delicious hors d’oeuvre stations, a fully stocked bar, a silent auction (…signed Taylor Swift poster anyone?) and only the best of the best were in attendance at the poolside kickoff party.

Pictured: Kelly Carven, Ani Hagopian, Travis Laufle, Andrea Demma, and TAYLOR SWIFT

Pictured: Kelly Carven, Ani Hagopian, Travis Laufle, Andrea Demma, and TAYLOR SWIFT

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26TH

This was definitely the most jam-packed day of the week. So many sessions to see, data insights to absorb, and important connections to be made!

AutoHook’s Big Data Panel - We’ve Got the Data! Now What?

If anyone suffered the unfortunate tragedy of not being able to attend the J.D. power panel that had attendees fighting for seats and lined up against the walls, don't worry. Watch out for the official panel recap coming next week.

Pictured: Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Pictured: Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Poolside Meetings at our Bellagio Cabana

AMR Connect

The rooftop of Drai’s nightclub served as the perfect atmosphere to connect with industry peers while overlooking the Las Vegas Strip. Thank you to Deep Root Analytics for sponsoring this great networking event.

A Night at Surrender

The AutoHook team sponsored our very own cabana at Surrender Nightclub Wednesday night at the Wynn. During the party, we met a lot of incredible people, got in some good team-bonding, and networked like we’ve never networked before! 

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 27TH  

The team attended several content-packed sessions and ended the trip feeling inspired, armed, and ready for 2017.

Pictured: Roman Lesnau, Linda Yaccarino, Edward Erhardt, Steve Lanzano, John Tierney, Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

Pictured: Roman Lesnau, Linda Yaccarino, Edward Erhardt, Steve Lanzano, John Tierney, Dean Evans, Kelly McNearney, Erik Lukas, Jenny Watson, and David Metter

…Until next time Vegas. 

 

 

NOW OPEN: The Automotive App Store

The Open App Approach to Uniting an Industry

by David Metter

What makes the Apple brand indestructible? There are a million answers to this question, and all are valid. Is Apple’s technology more advanced than Google’s? Not necessarily. Are their smartphones more intelligent than all other smartphones? Probably not. But no one can dispute the fact that they are the simplest devices to navigate for the vast majority of the population. Apple products dominate the market because they’re easy to use, and they integrate flawlessly with one another through Apple’s iCloud.

When we take a step back from the entire culture Apple has created, and strip down every product they’ve reinvented, we start to see the roots of what made them so successful in the first place. We see The App Store, and through that we see unification. We see both integration and alliances. We see the reason people feel naked without their iPhones. The iPhone is so integral to its owner because it makes their lives easier and better. We feel helpless without them. The App Store puts the power in our hands to access tools that improve the way we function on a day-to-day basis. It puts the world at our fingertips, and so many of the best apps out there are free.

Take Waze for example. It is the largest community-based, interactive traffic and navigation app in existence. Its value comes entirely from its users and the information these users provide in real-time. The technology then works by aggregating and building upon its user data to calculate the most efficient route from point A to point B, saving drivers both time and money (again, in real-time). In so many ways (no pun intended), Waze created a more efficient rail system of data that benefits everyone on the road.

What if the automotive industry could create this same type of unified data railroad? What if we knocked down our walls and opened up our own Automotive App Store… free of charge? What if every vendor, dealer, and OEM had faster, more accurate data? What could we accomplish as a community rather than as competitors? CDK Global has already adopted this open app approach when they announced their new Partner Program in September, in efforts to create an ecosystem of approved vendors and applications that can be flawlessly integrated into a CDK dealer website. Could it be? Vendors actually working together to reap the benefits of the bigger picture?

I’ve been fortunate enough to be on both sites of the battle. During my time as CMO at MileOne Automotive, one of our biggest struggles was getting vendors to integrate and work properly together. However, our biggest strength was having the insight to see the unique benefits of two different companies and the means to bring them together in a way that benefitted us and helped us sell more cars. Now that I’m on the vendor side, I’ve seen a need for these types of partnerships to happen now more than ever.

In the short time AutoHook has been in business, we have solidified more partnerships and relationships than anyone else in the space. So, we’re putting our money where our mouth is for the benefit of the entire automotive industry. We know dealers suffer when vendors don’t work together. When dealers and OEMs suffer, vendors also suffer. So let’s change that, shall we?

AutoHook is doing our part to build one, solidified automotive railroad system by opening our API, and the sales validation data that comes with it, to all vendors – free of charge. In an industry where everyone charges to be connected, we want to be the player not to charge so that we can make stronger connections.

By adopting Apple’s open app approach, we can then simplify and unravel a very complicated subject. A subject that is perhaps the one absolute in an industry inundated with ambiguous topics like “big data” and “attribution.” Backed by near-real-time sales data from Urban Science, AutoHook has actually built an attribution engine that validates without a doubt that our solutions led directly to a sale. Sharing this type of knowledge is the one thing that could change this industry for the better. Having access to both accurate and up-to-date sales attribution data will make every decision this industry makes smarter, every solution more efficient, and every dollar we spend go further. Now THAT is something to get excited about.

*As featured in AutoSuccess Magazine | October 2016 edition. 

Your Q4 Reality Check: 5 Reasons Online Buying is NOT Everyone’s Reality

Your Q4 Reality Check (1).png
by David Metter

People buy everything online these days. Or do they? In reality, there are some items people simply prefer to touch, see, feel, taste, smell, or drive before they consider signing on the dotted line or forking over their credit card. Several automotive leaders have recently come out in the media claiming a vehicle is still in so many ways, one of those items.

Online car buying models have been a ubiquitous topic of conversation over the past year – one that has made many in our industry uneasy about what to expect in the future as companies like Carvana, Drive Motors, and Vroom claim their place in the market.

We’re now in the fourth quarter of 2016, the time when we line up our budgets for the year ahead. Which technologies will thrive and which will die? Will the option to offer a complete online buying method for our new and used vehicles become necessary? According to DealerSocket, “There’s a false sense of urgency to take car buying online.” If you were to ask me, I’d say the vast majority of consumers are still not ready for it.

In a recent article from Automotive News, they highlight the results of DealerSocket's 2016 Dealership Action Report. “While there is a segment of car shoppers who want to buy vehicles online in an Amazon-like experience, a new report indicates dealers may be overestimating how strong consumer demand for this capability really is.”

Actual responses are shown below:

Without a doubt, there are items consumers prefer to purchase online, things like books, electronics, or your go-to cologne. It’s also true that there is a current market of buyers that want the ability to purchase a vehicle online. However, relatively speaking, that number is still small - small enough that we can all take a big deep breath and let go of worries about completely changing our buying models and the way we market our inventory.

When it comes to big-ticket items, people overwhelmingly still choose to visit actual brick-and-mortar stores. A new eMarketer study revealed it’s not just the large items. When it comes to packaged goods or groceries, the market is not budging despite having the option for online grocery shopping and at home delivery. eMarketer emphasized several valid reasons why 90% of internet users still prefer to do their grocery shopping in-store. These same reasons for opting out of online buying can be directly applied to the car business.

If your dealership is contemplating integrating an online sales platform in 2017, make sure you consider the following five facts before taking on this monster:

1.    When people are ready to buy, the ability to purchase immediately in-store is still very desirable as there is comfort in seeing, touching and testing products (or vehicles) in person.

2.    Completing a lengthy online purchase request may be too time-consuming for customers to follow through with the entire process.

This past August, Alex Jefferson, eCommerce director of Proctor Dealerships said, “Where online buying is going I don’t necessarily know, but I do know that it did personally have an adverse effect on us when we integrated with the tool. I will tell you after a year of testing it, our lead volume went down by about 30-40%.”

3.    Less tech-savvy customers or older generations who have the dealership experience ingrained in their mindset may struggle with the concept or dismiss it altogether.

4.     Consumer income levels largely dictate their level of interest in whether or not they would prefer to buy a vehicle online.

“Half of surveyed consumers earning $100,000 to $149,000 annually would like to bypass the dealership and buy vehicles online, DealerSocket said. In contrast, 29 percent of people making $25,000 to $49,000 said they'd like to buy vehicles online.”

5.    Online buying models may be better suited for luxury or high-end electric vehicles only – one of the reasons Tesla has been successful selling almost exclusively online.

Forbes explained why a direct sales model works for Tesla. “Since electric vehicles do not need as much regular service and the company does not offer financing schemes, a dealership model would put pressure on its margins.”

Marylou Hastert, DealerSocket's Director of Product Marketing advises dealerships, “Stores should prepare for the digitization of car buying, but not at the expense of in-store processes.” Simply put, an online buying model may not be right for your dealership. It could even be harmful to your conversion rates, which dealerships have reported over the last year.

My expert opinion? Get your fundamentals down first before heading full-speed down the click-to-buy road. Online buying has been effective with some of the larger dealer groups, but they have already conquered the essentials. After you have mastered the art of securing a high-converting website and high converting forms across devices, and once your inventory is immaculately merchandised with video walkarounds, photos, and custom comments, THEN and only then should you experiment with an integrated online buying model.

More Data More Problems: 3 Big Data Problems & How to Solve Them

by David Metter

“Just because it can be counted, doesn’t mean it counts,” said Tom O’Regan, CEO of Madison Logic in a recent IAB study. “As you rise up the scale of performance measurement tactics, you find the increasing convergence of both attribution and value.” These are incredibly wise words to live by. There are dozens of performance metrics that we’re capable of tracking. But just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

We are deep inside the epicenter of the information age. With all this big data comes an overwhelming opportunity to derive knowledge and take action. Nothing, (not even money) is more powerful than knowledge. We have all this information literally at our fingertips, yet automotive marketers still struggle to validate which solutions delivered the highest ROI or led to a sale. Having this knowledge (and knowing what to do with it) will make everything we do moving forward make a lot more sense.

As technologies become smarter, more integrated, and more systematic, automotive marketers face three big data obstacles:

  1. Access to accurate, useful data
  2. Access to faster, more timely data
  3.  The ability to turn big data insights into beneficial, executable actions

Let’s dive into each problem and how we can diminish these issues as we plan for 2017. 

Useful Data: 

First, you need to know what to look for. It’s not just about obtaining more and more data. It’s what we can to do with the knowledge we extract from the data that ultimately matters. So many advertisers still fail to acknowledge that there is life beyond the click. The number of clicks a campaign generated or the number of unique users it sent to your website is a microscopic fraction of the full picture, and frankly, it's an irrelevant metric.

In today’s world, clicks just don’t hold their weight. Clicks don’t prove conversion and clicks don’t move inventory. Furthermore, you could have the highest rate of website traffic in your market, but if your conversion rates are low, that “traffic” is just a number – which at the end of the day, means nothing.

Going into a new year, when you’re considering which technologies and vendors to work into your budget start with the ones that can prove they can consistently deliver the following:

  • A high conversion rate with proof of lead exclusivity
  • An incremental increase in showroom visits
  • (And most importantly) An incremental increase in sales

Access to this type of data is the most beneficial, as it gives dealers the freedom to stop guessing and start knowing what works – and like I said before, nothing is more powerful than knowledge.

Ask the right questions upfront so you can better determine if a vendor and their data will be of use to you. Start with the following:

  • At what rate do their solutions convert?
  • What is their showroom visit rate?
  • How do these rates compare to industry averages?
  • What is their method of tracking sales?
  • Can they link a vehicle sold to a specific user or campaign?

If they don’t have the validation stats to prove these things to you, they are not worth your time or money.

No-nonsense data tells you how many showroom visitors purchased (either from you or a competitor) and what specifically drove them in. It can tell you if your buyers are repeat, loyal customers or if they’re new to your brand. Did they visit your store but end up purchasing somewhere else? What brand did they buy and why? These are the types of questions legitimate reporting should be able to answer.

Faster Data:

IBM’s recent whitepaper, From Data to Insights to Opportunities, points out the clouded view of actionable data due to systems not communicating with each other. “Different platforms in different departments can’t talk to each other, so reporting is slowed. And it’s difficult to take proactive steps when your view of the total customer experience is a little blurry.”

The goal is to spend less time compiling data and more time using it to uncover new growth opportunities. Aim for a single, unified and cohesive structure when it comes to analytics and reporting. Ask vendors if they allow other solutions to integrate with their dashboards or APIs? The more people you can get working together towards a common goal, the better your chances become of achieving that goal. It’s the “two heads are better than one” approach. An industry-wide holistic viewpoint must be adopted for all parties to benefit from both faster and more comprehensive data models.

Also, choose to only work with the players that have near real-time reporting capabilities. With each day that passes after a purchase is made, that sales data becomes less and less valuable. What good are insights that remain unseen? The faster we can access sales data, the more we can do with it to extend our finite budgets.

Actionable Data: 

Integrated, cross-channel and cross-device attribution reporting is essential to following the consumer’s buying path. These capabilities illuminate trends in the purchase cycle and allow dealers to make more lucrative decisions with their ad dollars. Behavior across mobile, desktop, and online and offline channels all need to be considered to get a complete, accurate view of the attribution path.

Knowing which solutions are working for your dealership is the key to correcting all your big data problems. Use attribution data to build predictive models that identify trends or patterns in purchase behavior. Pragmatic data can tell you which vehicles to keep in stock, how many of each model, and in which colors. It can tell you how to better allocate every dollar so you can rest assured your money is being spent in the right places.

Remember that useful automotive data is largely derived from the two most important KPIs: conversions and sales. The focus of your reporting should include data that shows a complete attribution path from an advertising source to a sale.

The Marketer’s Guide to Cross-Channel Attribution states, “When organizations are able to measure marketing’s impact on the metrics that truly matter to the business, then and only then are they in a position to make confident decisions about future marketing investments. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.”

These roadblocks need to be obliterated in order to reverse the rate in which we’re inundated with useless, irrelevant information. The time has come where we’re capable of maximizing revenue across all marketing initiatives. It’s time to show big data who’s boss! If we work together, we can close gaps in communication and better track consumer actions throughout the purchase cycle for the benefit of all.

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Heading to Vegas for the #JDPowerAMR? Be sure to catch the Big Data problem-solving Panel, We’ve Got the Data! Now What? Moderated by David Metter, featuring digital marketing experts from Hyundai, Subaru, Google, AutoNation & more! Panel starts Wednesday, October 26th @ 11:25 AM (Breakout Room #2)

 

 

Part IV: The Naked Truth Exposed [EXECUTIVE EDITION] Big Data & Attribution

Big Data & Attribution…Who Has It & How Do We Get It?

by David Metter

There’s good news and bad news on this topic…but mostly good. The bad news is AutoHook’s panel of marketing experts had so many dealer-submitted issues to solve they didn’t have time to address data and attribution at Digital Dealer 21 (as this subject could take 50 minutes alone). The good news is I now have the opportunity to step in and shine my headlights upon the industry-wide struggle I’m most passionate about. This final piece of our Naked Truth Exposed series will represent the most momentous road block dealers face today: proving without a doubt the one source that led to a sale.

First, let me fill you in on a quick story about a guy named Dayn Riegel. Dayn is the eCommerce Director of Loganville Ford and he was AutoHook’s winner of our all expenses paid trip to DD21. Why would we invest so much money in a person we had never met? Because he asked the right question. In our nation-wide poll conducted over the spring and summer of 2016, Dayn submitted the following inquiry:

“The best marketing in the world can’t save a dealership from itself – it’s own greed, ineptitude or lack of drive…lack of willingness to succeed, and I don’t mean just talk about it, do something about it. So, my question is: With all the hype around SEO, SEM, PPC, Bing, etc., who is taking all the big data and marketing know-it-all and applying it? Exactly. Nobody really, truly is. Why not?”

Thank you Dayn for giving me the opportunity to take on this challenge. This question is the reason I do what I do, as I experienced the same problems during my time as CMO at MileOne Automotive. I know firsthand, one of the most common pain points for dealers exists in the gaps (or the disconnects in communication) that form when two vendors don’t properly work together. As competition rises in the digital space, and as more and more companies enter the game, these lapses in digital communication will only continue to grow - creating more cracks in our already distressed methods of attributing a sale to a single source.

During my time at MileOne, I was fortunate enough to have the resources, contacts, a great team, and insight to do something about this problem. One of our biggest strengths, and arguably the reason we had such a competitive edge was in our ability to see the unique advantages of two different vendors, and bring them together in a way that benefitted our needs. We quickly learned that combining the exclusive technologies of two (or even three) vendors made it easier for us to sell more cars. More importantly, we had the power to track the latter half of a specific customer’s buying process, which eventually led to the creation of AutoHook’s award-winning sales attribution engine.

People in general have a tendency to overcomplicate common sense concepts. But this isn’t rocket science. If you need green paint, you take some blue paint and some yellow paint and simply mix them together.

So how do we paint the automotive marketing landscape green? I can tell you since I’ve been on the other side (the vendor side) I’ve seen a need for these types of alliances to happen now more than ever. It’s monumental to think of how much we can accomplish if we open up our strengths to others to generate a mutual benefit. What I’m suggesting, is we need to change the focus from beating our competitors, to working in conjunction with competitors to accomplish a goal that guarantees success for all parties - and not just for vendors, but for dealers and OEMs as well.

As Dayn referenced, there is an undertone of greed throughout both dealer and vendor communities. Everyone wants to make more money. Everyone wants to be #1. Everyone wants to keep proprietary technology a secret. But let’s take a step back. Let me spell this out in the simplest way I possibly can. In order to solve the ambiguity that shadows big data and accurate attribution in our industry, we have to do one thing: change our mentality.

Here’s how. What if instead of keeping secrets, we shared knowledge and worked together? What if we connected the automotive universe and created one cohesive, more efficient railroad system? Wouldn’t this drastically reduce disconnects in our data and reporting? Right now, we are on the precipice of change. No one can argue that there is strength in numbers. We need to unite, rather than surround our solutions with egotistical walls, in order to reap the benefits of the bigger picture.

Going back to Dayn’s question of, “Who is taking all the big data and marketing know-it-all and applying it?” The answer is, WE ARE. AutoHook, powered by Urban Science has the fastest, most reliable sales attribution path data in the industry - 99.7% to be exact, and 95% of that data is updated daily. No one can compete with that! Furthermore, we know how to apply this data to prove our solutions directly led to a sale. So not only do we have the data and know what to do with it, but we’re willing to SHARE our AutoHook rail system and API technology with the entire industry…FOR FREE.

Imagine that, an open API that gives all automotive entities the power to finally attribute vehicle sales to a single campaign. What? Why? How can we do this? First of all, we know for a fact we have access to the most reliable and timely sales data from Urban Science. We also know that achieving accurate attribution is trifold.

First, the solution needs to execute. Second, it needs to be validated with performance reports that show concrete evidence of incremental sales and lift in conversion. This requires vendors to surpass irrelevant vanity metrics such as clicks, impressions, and site traffic. Is there any paid search company out there that can prove to a dealership that one of their search campaign clicks resulted in a sold vehicle? The answer, just as Dayn suggested, is absolutely not!

The third piece of our bulletproof attribution model is that it’s personalized and unique to each customer, further eliminating breakdowns in sales data. By assigning a unique code to every user, we can track all post-interaction behavior. How many people walked into your showroom as a direct result of our solution? Did they end up purchasing or not? What model did they purchase? Are they new to your brand? And what led them to your store?

What if the solution to this problem afflicting dealerships, OEMs, and vendors could be as simple as breaking down the walls that separate and limit us? What if we stopped nickel and diming dealers for every integration they request? The ideal solution for obtaining actionable data must be suited for omnichannel use, meaning available to all publishers and vendors across all types of media outlets, hence the concept of an open, free API.

My friends, this is the beginning of an era. This is how we provide the world with access to big data and the reporting needed to turn it into a story worth sharing. This is how our industry becomes more efficient, more streamlined, and more powerful. If we can patch the holes of automotive’s digital rail system, every vendor and dealership can finally validate the true ROI of their marketing investments.

Stay tuned for more to come on how AutoHook will be providing free API access to all.

If you missed part I, II, or III of our Naked Truth Exposed series, check them out below:

Part III: The Naked Truth Exposed [Online Buying]

Online Buying...Should We Do It?

by the AutoHook Marketing Team

This particular blog will cover arguably the most controversial topic inundating dealer forums like DealerRefresh and other automotive digital communities. This is the question of the moment, and perhaps the largest generator of both debate and uncertainty creeping up our industry’s horizon.

After AutoHook’s nation-wide survey conducted over the last three months, the top five digital marketing topics dealers currently struggle with were exposed:

  1. [Social]: Does Social sell cars?
  2. [Video]: Video, video, video…tell me more.
  3. [Paid Search, Retargeting & Budgeting]: What should we expect?
  4. [Online Buying]: Should we do it?
  5. [Data & Marketing Attribution]: Who has it and how do we get it?

The first three topics are covered in parts I & II of The Naked Truth Exposed Series. Check them out below:

THE QUESTION OF THE MOMENT: Should I make my vehicles available to buy directly on my website? Is it necessary if I already have a successful brick and mortar store?

So, what did AutoHook’s Naked Truth defenders have to say about online buying at Digital Dealer 21? First, let’s reintroduce our expert panelists and reveal what they shared on this undecided topic.

Alex Jefferson (eCommerce Director, Proctor Dealerships)

“Where online buying is going I don’t necessarily know, but I do know that it did personally have an adverse effect on us when we integrated with the tool.”

The challenge with online buying is there are two very different perspectives on the topic: the consumer’s perspective, and the dealer’s perspective. Proctor Dealerships recently tested an integrated online buying model on their websites over a one-year time period. The tool gave customers the ability to formulate payments, value their trade-in, and complete most of the purchase process online - the overall goal, of course being to save the time consumers spend physically at the dealership. However, what Alex and his team found is that “people are lazy.” They don’t want to take the time (even in the comfort of their home) to navigate through this integrated, lengthy form.

Alex’s advice? What works best for his stores is integrating separate “get your price” buttons, trade-in tools, and finance or credit apps on their sites. It’s three separate forms, but they are quick and easy to fill out. This process also works better for non-tech-savvy customers, and it has been highly effective for Proctor stores specifically. A single buy online method may be too long and too time-consuming for a lot of people, and it can also negatively affect your conversion rates. As a rule of thumb, it's always best to keep online forms as short and straightforward as possible. The easier it is to complete, the higher your conversion rates will be. Alex tells our Naked Truth audience:

“I will tell you after a year of testing it, our lead volume went down by about 30-40%.”

On the contrary, DD21 interview between Chief Editor of DealerRefresh, Jeff Kershner, and CEO of Drive Motors, Aaron Krane disclosed opposing evidence.

DealerRefresh: What is the feedback like from dealership personnel at dealerships offering consumers this option?
Aaron Krane: Dealership staff love that customers who use online checkout will not only sell themselves but also upsell themselves, while the store is closed. That means orders through Drive Motors convert to a sale at over 10-times the rate of leads, and have a higher PVR than many stores’ averages. Moreover, in the words of one dealership, online checkout customers are “ecstatic.”

Kelly McNearney (Senior Automotive Retail Strategist, Google)

 “All I care about is online video.” 

Kelly allowed fellow panelists, Scott Empringham and Alex Jefferson to answer the bulk of this question. However, she made sure to emphasize the role video plays when it comes to showcasing your inventory digitally, as it can nurture the online buying process.

If (or when) buying online becomes mainstream, inventory-specific video will undoubtedly play a role in increasing “buy it now” conversion. Why? Because if customers can virtually touch, feel, see, experience, learn about, and test drive the vehicle in consideration, it’s possible they’ll obtain enough information on its specs and benefits to click that change-driving “buy it now” button.

During her 2-Minute Interview, live at #DD21 with Flash Point’s Scott Empringham, Kelly McNearney shared Google’s #1 tip to help dealers sell more cars, trucks, and SUVs right now. “If I was opening up a dealership today, the first thing I would do is start making YouTube videos, walkarounds, test drives, and features to show people the inventory on my lot.”

Customers aren’t visiting as many dealers as they used to. Google shows consumers visit 1-2 stores before making a purchase. People know what they want before walking into a dealership. New, inventory-focused video merchandising technologies will only further support that fact.

“People want to make decisions at home, on the couch.”

…And Kelly's right! When you think about it, people don’t want to feel pressure from a salesperson to make any life-altering decisions on the spot. A vehicle purchase is the second largest purchase consumers make after buying a home. There is a lot of emotion, stress, time, money, and energy that goes into their decision that dealers don’t always recognize or acknowledge.   

Scott Empringham (CEO/President, Flash Point Communications)

“I don’t think it’s a question of is it going to happen, it is happening. If you’ve got your fundamentals down, and that’s something you want to experiment with, I say go for it!”

Scott does caution if you haven’t first mastered the fundamentals (things like digital merchandising, relevant photos and videos, a high converting site, simple, high converting forms, etc.) jumping into online buying can be a waste.

Asbury Automotive Group for example, rolled out online buying across their stores, and other large progressive groups like AutoNation and Penske have done the same. Asbury is a Flash Point client with a huge digital marketing team, and they successfully participate in an online buying model today. However, the vast majority of Flash Point customers don’t necessarily have the resources Asbury and similar groups have to make this system work.

Brands like Honda, Toyota, Ford, Chevy – those are value-buy vehicles. People want and need to physically sit in the car to determine if it’s right for them. On the contrary, when it comes to aspirational brands like Maserati or Lamborghini, or someone who collects cars as a hobby, people would be more likely to buy these types of cars online. Obviously, Tesla has been doing it successfully for years.

At this time, the best answer experts can provide, when it comes to whether or not dealers need a buy it now button is…it depends. There are stores that have been successful with it, and there are stores that have not been successful with it. The key is to have your ducks in a row (or in other words, a website that converts at a high rate) before rolling out a nation-wide online buying program.

Bill Playford, VP & Partner of DealerKnows Consulting called out the topic in his June 2016 DealerRefresh article, Buy it NOW! The Button that Drives Change.

“I know this is giving some of you heart palpitations, but it’s once again that time to rethink the way we approach our customers. Not everyone will want to utilize a Buy It Now button. But, by not incorporating it into your process, you are disenfranchising a segment of your population who would click this and purchase almost 100% online.”

The key consideration with online buying, and with your dealer operations in general, is going above and beyond to make things convenient for your customers. Make your end model fast and easy. If you can manage one platform great! If not, do everything you can to make your process smoother on the customer's behalf. Build a loyal customer base now, because you never know - they could be buying their future car from you, right off your website.

A huge thank you goes out to DealerRefresh & Flash Point for capturing all the Naked Truth magic live on Facebook. Click here to watch the recording!

For additional resources or information from our panelists, visit DriveAutoHook.com/NakedTruth.

 

Part II: The Naked Truth Exposed [Paid Search, Retargeting & Budget Allocation]

Part II: The Naked Truth Exposed [Paid Search, Retargeting & Budget Allocation]

AutoHook’s nation-wide survey conducted over the last 3-months revealed the top five digital marketing topics dealers currently struggling with. These issues were addressed and exposed during Digital Dealer 21’s most jam-packed session, the Naked Truth.