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Let me open this article by saying that automotive advertising platforms like Autotrader.com, Cars.com, and the Automotive Advertising Network (AAN) provide marketing opportunities that should be considered in a comprehensive dealership marketing strategy. In fact all three companies were awarded Dealer Satisfaction Awards this year by DrivingSales.com in the Used Car Advertising category.
Car dealers need to evaluate existing and new methodologies to connect consumers with the cars that they have for sale. The Internet has become more expensive to attract clicks than ever before as more dealers participate in Google Adwords and similar online marketing services.
When I look at local competition in the search engines for a car dealer, one consistent competitor appears. Dealers are under attack by their own OEM automotive advertising campaigns.
This can come from national advertising campaigns or Tier 2 regional advertising campaigns, and I have some examples to share below.
Let me give you an example of what gets my blood boiling.
A dealer makes an investment to list their cars on automotive advertising websites for many reasons. One reason is that consumers, outside of their normal area of responsibility or PMA, may connect with a car that they have in stock. The key point here is that for out of area shoppers, their zip code would normally be a part of another dealer's PMA.
If you look at this example below, a Tier 2 Banner ad runs on the top and right side of this dealer's Vehicle Detail Page (VDP). The other areas are also advertising leaks, but not associated with a GM advertising campaign.
That's another topic called Dealer Centricity Scores that you should engage.
When you click on the top Silverado HD Banner or the right side Silverado banner, you are taken off-page to a Tier 2 Chevy website design for lead collection. If a consumer engages with this Tier 2 website, and completes a lead form, the lead most likely will not be sent to the dealer listed on this page, rather it will go to the dealer covering their zip code.
Does anyone have a problem with this model?
So the OEM endorsed advertising campaign or Tier 2 created advertising campaign, is working against this one dealer for any consumer outside of his market. It seems to me that this is just counter productive and is using the dealers inventory against him.
If a dealer is paying to list this car, on this site, why would he want an interactive Ajax banner ad running, that catches the consumer's attention, to drive them to another Chevy website?
Could you say that this dealer's advertising investment is funneling leads to his local competitors?
This is not limited to Cars.com as you can see from this Autotrader.com VDP. Once again, a national OEM sponsored banner campaign is taking prime real estate to drive consumers to the national Cadillac website.
Anytime a consumer gets to a national site, the dealer can not be assured that the lead will be routed to their CRM system. It's all based on zip code or consumer choice but the action was based on this dealer's advertising investment.
I'm not sure if any other dealers agree with me that this a topic that should be discussed at OEM Marketing meetings. A bigger issue to remind car dealers is to inspect their automotive advertising investments. When you take the time to inspect how your brand is being marketed online, many light bulbs start to go off.