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: