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Bryan Armstrong

Bryan Armstrong e-Commerce Director

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Cobalt FlexDAP-A CarGuy's view

Two weeks ago I had a chance to review Cobalt’s new Flex Dap offering. What was scheduled to be a 45 min. conference call turned in to a nearly 2 hour conversation with Shaun Kehrberg Product Marketing Manager for ADP Digital Marketing Solutions and Jade Makana (whose Title of “Corporate Storyteller” for ADP Digital Marketing Solutions has got to be the most awesome Job description EVER) patiently answered my myriad of questions.

Flex DAP Overview

Flex Dap in a nutshell is a way to optimize and align OEM Marketing messages for your Dealership through:

Google Contextual Display Advertising, Google Paid Search Advertising, Bing/Yahoo Paid Search, Dynamic Used Vehicle Inventory Campaigns, Website Visitor Retargeting Ads , Video Retargeting Ads, Retargeting Ads with Dynamic New/Used Vehicle Inventory, Retargeting Ads on “Premium” Sites, Campaign Landing Pages, OEM Aligned Campaigns, Dealer Branding in Ads, Dealer Specials, Email Marketing, Model Lineup Campaign Choices, Campaign Prioritization, Mobile Content and contains New DCC Reporting, Budget Optimization and Premium Support.

In other words it’s literally a “set it and forget it” Solution for the Dealer who is too busy or doesn’t want the hassle of setting these things up. In addition you can eliminate Marketing spend on Vehicles that you don’t have or don’t NEED to advertise. The BEST thing about it is that since Cobalt is so aligned with the OEM’s they have the next Month’s incentives and Programs days or even weeks before we as Dealers do. This (although in principle chafes me greatly) allows your Digital assets to begin working from the very first of the Month. Whereas doing it on your own through another Vendor will set you back days if not weeks depending on your in-house or contracted Creative Team.

Flex DAP is not just for the Sales Dept. either. In fact it contains spend categories for New, Used, Service and Parts in essence covering the entire gambit of the Dealership profit Centers. Each category’s spend must be set by the 24th of the preceding Month, but can be “Flexed” up once you are aware of the incentives yourself or if mid-Month you decide you need a boost in a particular area. This is done through a very simple to use control center with easy to understand User Interface.

Here is my opinion:

Pros:

Cobalt has done a much better job at trying to capture a greater portion of the Digital Dollars we all are spending. Their greatest advantage is their substantially greater prep time and the fact that you never have to worry about Compliance issues.

 At $2,000 for “Core” coverage, $500 for “New Flex” and $1,000 each as a minimum spend for Service & Parts and Used it’s reasonably priced and contains all the key elements of a good on-line presence. OEM alignment is important in your Marketing strategy as it allows you to piggy-back off the huge OEM budgets.   

The support is better and consistency is guaranteed.

Used, Parts, Service and Video have FINALLY been addressed

Cons:

There is no delineation of your individual Dealership outside of your Logo and few Creative choices

Your ad may appear the same as your Competitors

Conquest in New Sales is severely limited due to OEM mandates

 

That being said, yes, I signed up (for Core, New Flex and Used) and recommend you too look at it as a now viable solution.

 I will still continue to run Campaigns through other Companies who provide more transparent reporting and conquest opportunities, but have eliminated my Dealer name from their Keyword buy; after all I don’t want my CPC to skyrocket because I’m bidding against myself.

I want to align with the OEM and am saddened that they trust a Vendor more than they will trust my Dealership with advance notifications. However, each Month I will go in and dial down to the minimum spends in each category and then after I know what Cobalt knows will adjust accordingly. At least this way, I’ll be able to start my Monthly Marketing on the 1st instead of the 10th.

I’ll continue to watch this and will be writing follow-up on its success. I’m sorry if the overall tone comes off as skeptical but in my first meeting with my Rep after signing up, she did not seem to be as familiar with all the features this Program contains, particularly in the Creative choice opportunity, as what I was presented with. So with a tentative “thumbs-up” and hope for fulfillment…

Bryan Armstrong

@bryancarguy

Jim Bell
From a guy that just loves Cobalt, great write up Bryan. Keep us updated on how it goes for you.
Bryan Armstrong
Will do Jim. Thanks
Nick Holliday
Those cons are big in my book. Who wants ads that look exactly like your competitor? There's strength in having all advertising mirror each other. If it doesn't it's more likely to just be more noise to the consumer. Also is Cobalt finally giving you a breakdown of where they're spending money? I know that use to be an issue for some dealers that were interested in hearing what was going towards PPC, what was going towards display and what percent was the management fee.
Wayne Schiffman
18 months ago our dealership partnered with Cobalt for Digital Marketing. Cobalt's DAP has done an exceptional job of increasing our visits( up 1000% per month)and correspondingly unit sales. The best tool DAP has is the everything key.They take care of everything , I get the credit.Knowing it is important to align local,LMA and National Chevrolet branding and incentives I needed someone we could trust with our marketing $. Cobalt's consultants gave me the knowledge to make a sound business decision. Reporting is two fold about results (not just detailed metrics on media spend). With Cobalt's reporting I can see exactly how many visitors were driven to my site,time on site,what they did while there(h/d,emails,chat etc). In 2012 ,out of 13 dealers in my district we are one of 4 that are up year over year(18%) though May.This is pretty awesome considering we were up 38% 2011 over 2010. For May Service and Parts had record months. Cobalt is a real marketing deal in the ocean of Digital non performers.

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