By Lisa Gener, Vice President of Sales, Dealer Alchemist
I’m running as fast as I can, not from something but, for something. My lungs are on fire, I’m sweating, there’s no one else around… and then the alarm sounds. I’m flooded with adrenaline and the realization I was dreaming (and I’ve got to change my morning alarm, geez) but… the feeling I’m transitioning from is a rush I have daily.
At this point in my tenure, I’ve seen it all… hundreds of ad strategies in dealerships nationwide. The largest markets, the largest facilities, the breadth of 100 unit stores and the countryside across family-owned dealers. All of them and their dedicated employees are equally important. I’ve endured thousands of conversations of, “who do we trust?” Empowering dealers with a transparent way to track their digital dollars is undeniably my purpose.
The segue this morning, from a full adrenaline rush, finds me in front of my desk – peeling back the Google Analytic curtains of this specific dealer’s digital strategy. (Sigh.) One, I can already tell, without doubt, this agency is charging based on a commission of spend. Two, I can also tell that they’re presenting a smoke and mirrors show of proprietary reporting. Three, I’m pushing down the voice of preemptive concern that recalls, “the owner really likes these guys, he has a relationship with our agency, they’re friends.” (Oh boy.) Four, it’s not about telling them their baby is ugly… It’s about showing them, with their own data, that their baby is bleeding. In this case, and before agency fees, it’s to the tune of $6,618.
That’s when the rush comes…the rush of delivering radical truth.
This radical truth has been tumbling through Covid, digital retailing technologies, new car inventory shortages, Google updates, and consumer privacy laws. This radical truth has been passed through the pillar of OEM Tiers, industry experts and the motives of salespeople selling to the ultimate salespeople.
Radical truth is a responsibility… so here’s my truth in what to look for in this environment:
- Regional Location Terms – If your digital agency has a majority of your allocated paid search spend weighted toward brand, regional, location terms – you’re on the take. It’s lowering your product preview for a buyer that knows exactly what make, model and trim level they want to purchase. You’re likely overpaying for a portion of what would be free organic traffic and it’s making the agency’s stats look like they’re doing an incredible job of providing a low Cost-Per-Click (CPC).
- Proprietary Reporting – Speaking of stats, the first question I ask every dealer is, “are you reading your digital advertising metrics out of Google Analytics?” Chances are if you’re being served a proprietary report, there are core metrics that matter that are more than likely hidden from you. Is your agency showing you a rolled-up “incredibly low CPC?” Ask them if that CPC includes Display Ads. (Display ads can average as low as .15 cents CPC whereas Model Terms can average as high as $7.50 CPC.) If you see anything higher ask, “why?”
- Low New Car Inventory – Between the issues of dealerships overpaying for high-funnel OEM terms and the influx of Display Ads, I see a missing strategy incurred by “how do we allocate digital ad dollars when we don’t have any new car inventory?” Digital Ad Agencies that are still on a dated model of charging a percentage of commission of spend are the most common culprits I see in overspending on dealer-branded and generic terms or display ad injections. Which begs the question– what is the available technology that’s being leveraged for your digital advertising? How dependent is it on automation, and does your agency have the ability to run dynamic inventory ads for New and Used?
- Where are your ads landing lead opportunities? Where are your served ads landing your most valuable lead opportunities, if anyone touts “your homepage” or any other place away from your own website, throw them out with the bathwater. Dynamic Inventory Ads are the best way to place your current inventory in front of the customers looking to buy those specific vehicles. If you have more Used vehicles in inventory versus New, make sure you’re allocated accordingly.
I believe that radical truth can bring radical possibilities. The thing about radical truth is there is always more to share (so much more!), more to learn, and no questions are too minor to pursue.
About the Author
Lisa Gener is the Vice President of Sales for Dealer Alchemist, a company focused on delivering the most effective digital ad strategy in automotive.