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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, http://drivingsalesinnovationguide.com. 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.