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By Brian Pasch
Haystak Digital Marketing is now part of the Autotrader family of companies serving car dealers. The announcement further enhances the products that Autotrader can offer dealers to merchandise and advertise their inventory and dealership services. In recent years other acquisitions have included Kelley Blue Book, vAuto, and VinSolutions.
Haystak Digital Marketing was spun out of Moore & Scarry a few years ago. Moore & Scarry is an full service advertising agency with headquarters in Ft Myers Florida. According to the official press release, VinSolutions is the purchaser.
The search engine market place is crowded with well established providers, so what’s different? Haystak Digital Marketing in recent years has stormed the automotive marketplace offering car dealers VIN level pay-per-click advertising, regardless of website platform dealers use to run their business.
Automated Adwords campaigns based on in-stock inventory is not a new concept. Dealer.com and Cobalt have been offering this service to dealers for years however both companies only offer this integration for dealers on their website platform. VIN-level advertising allows car dealers to more effectively advertise their used cars on Google, Bing, and Yahoo.
For example, a Ford dealer who has a 2011 Chevrolet Silverado in stock, can make sure local shoppers searching for a 2011 Silverado know that their local Ford dealer has a pristine truck in stock and priced to sell. The secret sauce is knowing how to bundle vehicles into campaigns and using intelligence to adjust bid management strategies.
These capabilities are outside the realm of individuals that manage their own search budgets. Google Adwords recently announced that VIN-LEVEL advertising is available directly from Adwords but it does not have the same level of sophistication offered by the Haystak platform.
What has made Haystak a household name is that their advertising services are platform independent and that they offer a higher level of transparency on how the dealer’s budget is spent. Haystak has partnered with many automotive website platform companies to integrate Adwords campaigns with replaceable phone numbers to track calls generated by Adwords investments.
Dealers using the Haystak platform have their own login which can show them their advertising investments and the performance of their ad groups. In the example below, an executive level report will show the basic ROI of their investments for the past 30 days.
This type of report is perfect for dealership executives who do not want to get into the details of ad management. Detailed reports are also available from the backend tools provided by dealers, in addition to monthly reports emailed to Haystak clients.
Cobalt is the only major website platform that has decided not to allow Haystak to integrate their campaigns with Cobalt website phone tracking. Dealer.com, who normally does not allow third parties to leverage their replaceable phone number technology, was obliged to allow Haystak to run on their platform because of the Chrysler PAP program. Both Haystak and Dealer.com are certified to offer Chrysler dealers co-op funded advertising solutions.
The Haystak Digital Marketing platform competes with Dealer.com’s Total Control Dominator (TCD) platform, which was first to market for VIN-Level advertising for dealers. The TCD platform and Haystak Digital Marketing are both winners of the 2012 Automotive Website Award for digital advertising.
The purchase of Haystak is a strategic investment for a number of reasons. First, Haystak is one of a handful of companies awarded Google SMB designation. As an SMB partner, Haystak benefits from high-level access to Google, which means that new product innovations are normally first disclosed with their best clients.
The second reason why Haystak is a strategic investment is that it gives VinSolutions customers a stronger digital advertising platform. Today, Haystak is a completely stand-alone product. In the future, I could see tighter integration into the VinSolutions platform on the product roadmap.
Currently, the VinSolutions platform has integrated direct marketing campaigns allowing dealers to design direct mail pieces and send mailers to targeted lists. Adding integrated Google Adwords, Bing, and Facebook campaigns would be a logical step allowing dealers to control their marketing strategies from within a single interface.
The Haystak platform will fall under VinSolutions product management teams. VinSolutions will benefit from having an integrated advertising dashboard similar to ones offered by Cobalt and Dealer.com. The integration would also help VinSolutions be more competitive for new OEM website endorsements.
Is the acquisition spree for Autotrader.com coming to and end? Who do you think they should acquire next?
Brian Pasch, CEO