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The Apples and Oranges of Dealer Marketing

By Dennis Galbraith on Feb 21, 2013

The wealth of data being provided to dealers from their vendors is truly incredible. Twenty years ago, dealers thought it was amazing when I could show them cost-per-thousand numbers for their radio, TV, print, and outdoor advertising. Today the amount of marketing data available to a typical dealer has increased more than one-hundred fold.

This spawned a number of additional products available to dealers, from full business intelligence tools like our own DrivingSales Data to an array of dashboard products designed to organize the data. That's the good news. The bad news is some of these products are mixing apples and oranges. The purpose is to have valid, reliable information for decision making. Mixing incompatible data can lead to precisely inaccurate results that drive dealers in the wrong direction.

DrivingSales recently conducted a research project to uncover the true meaning and compatibility of vendor metrics. We found a wide range of cases where metrics with the same name do not mean the same thing from vendor to vendor. None of these vendors are necessarily wrong, but it is wrong to group their metrics together in a dashboard simply because they have the same label attached to them.

The complete report is available for dealers and vendors alike in the latest edition of Dealer Innovation Guide, Over time, vendors will come together around standards and third parties, like Google Analytics, will provide apples to apples comparisons. Those provide everything from simple dashboards to complete business intelligence suites will understand which metrics can be aggregated and which cannot. Until then, more and more research like this will be need so dealers can know what to trust. 


Dennis, I couldn't agree with you more that our industry needs to create a lexicon of terms and definitions. For example, think of the word "leads". If website form submissions are "leads" then we could mix up job applications, finance applications, and sales leads. That of course makes no sense.

Inventory VDP and SRP views have a wide range of meanings, and third party classified sites seem to feel that they are defined differently by site.

So, as the industry moves toward data warehouses and business intelligence tools, a lexicon needs to be created. Sign me up if you plan to organize a committee on this project.

Feb 22, 2013

Glad you brought this up Dennis - it is something we have been struggling with in our Internet 20 Group as we discussed. Analytics are taken from one URL but we have a portal and 4 micro sites along with two OEM mandated sites. Marketing is mainly on the portal but the data is just from our Honda store. Some in our group have RVs too which can mess with the gross averages. F&I revenues is another bone of contention as to what is or is not included.

Some things just can't be split out when there is more than one roof top. Cost of Websites was another issue, some of us were dividing the cost between 5 URLs others were putting in the whole cost so the range was from $280 to $2800 for Website costs. Apples to Apples is tough, but we have to try to get it as close as possible. Love what you are doing Dennis - Love the Driving Sales Think Tank! We all benefit immensely!

Feb 22, 2013

Thank you Brian and Jon. Brian, we do need to work together on these things, and it's always a pleasure to do so with you.

Jon, you are pioneering something wonderful in the Internet 20 groups. I've enjoyed watching the progress of the groups and the growing profitability of the members. One of the wonderful aspects of the 20 group is that you do talk and you do uncover these things. There will always need to be a balance between time spent improving the inputs and time spent increasing profitability with the good findings coming from the outputs. Over time, the shift has been from the former to the latter. Members seem to be getting more from the groups each time they meet. Thank you for your pioneering leadership in this area.

Feb 23, 2013

Dennis, thank you. Analytics and data have become overwhelming and confusing for many dealers. On the one hand it is exciting to see information that was never before available. But on the other hand, it is increasingly difficult to organize, interpret and make use of the vast amount of information. It would help tremendously if there were benchmarks and agreed upon terms for what we're seeing across the spectrum.

Feb 23, 2013

Collecting the data is imperative to understanding the store's opportunities and shortcomings. It's hard to move forward without garnering the right data. You're right that there needs to be universal understanding of the data terms so everyone can measure the same logic. The most difficult part for dealers, however, is taking the data and actually enacting corporate structure/policies to improve their performances. That is the biggest gap in understanding. Data to directives.

Feb 24, 2013

Joe, few people understand that link form data to information to profitable action items the way you do. Some trainers and consultants fear data; it holds them accountable. The good ones realize the availability of a well constructed database allows them to do more for dealers and show credible results. As the need for people in math-oriented positions outstrips our education system's supply of them, it is a certainty that most dealership are not going to find all the talent they need in-house. Long live the out-sourced expert.

Feb 25, 2013

Tom, I don't want to oversell; the system we are building is much better than the system we have available today. However, dealers can access it for free. After putting dealership data into the system, you can see your data compared to the average of other dealers in the system, benchmarking.

The system is strictly for marketing strategy. The privacy policy is designed to protect dealers, and It does not collect data at the VIN, customer, lead, or employee level.

Feb 25, 2013

The wide array of interpretive analytics can be confusing at best. Morphing the data to quantifiable action plans can be even more so. When OEMs, Vendors and Dealership personnel quit trying to manipulate reporting to look good rather than be good changes can occur.
Thanks for a great post and sharing the link

Mar 26, 2013

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