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Gary May

Gary May President

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Digital Dealer 9...In A Nutshell

So we're in what many call the automotive industry's event olympics, digital dunking chair, online opinion onslaught, guruexpertvendorspeakerconsultantpitchyouintosubmissionsession and more (is that a word or an insult?!?!). Anyway, last week's Digital Dealer was one heck of a kickoff with around 750 dealers in attendance.

Over the three days, we heard both the good and bad, awesome and ugly and got to share time with the companies in what was easily the largest expo at any of the series of Digital Dealer events. With an opening panel that seemed to be more about defending third party lead providers and attacking other ways to drive traffic, it may have put an interesting asterisk on the event: One of the calls-to-action that is consistent of Digital Dealer conferences (as well as growing) is the ability for dealers to create more eyeballs, consideration, conversion and sales themselves without paying large sums to the marketing companies.

The rest of day one seemed to bring an overwhelming good vibe with some frustration but nothing more than past Digital Dealers. The evening was filled with various receptions, dinners, parties and (required?) gambling. Walking around The Mirage, you could see a kalaiedascope of dealers, OEMs, vendors, consultants and service providers roaming, playing and chatting. Ralph Paglia's ADM reception was well attended again (Ralph, two words for you and ADP: larger suite. Two more: air conditioning). The first day can be marked as a success.

Day two flew out of the gates and we had hop between meetings and sessions. Overall strong buzz, especially around lunch. However there seemed to be more dissention in the ranks when it came to enjoying the speakers. Obvious or not, blatent or passive, it's hard to control speakers. One session we heard about from a lot of people seemed to end up being an over-the-top pitch along with aggressive words toward competition. There's no place for that. The popular speakers seemed to reign more supreme at DD9 which represented a good amount of feedback. One that stood out for us was Kevin Frye's. He had a classy presentation and style that seems to be more prevelant in dealer sessions. Add the trust from the crowd and it's a recipe for success.

IM@CS hosted our second #imacswebpoker tournament and ended up hosting 22 players. We'd like to thank AutoData, AutoFusion, Cargigi, GetAutoAppraise and PCG Digital Marketing for their involvement. AutoFusion presented with Reno Toyota with a complete complimentary package of website, mobile site and Facebook inventory app. Thanks to the other dealers in attendance and congratulations to Dennis Colome of AutoByTel for taking the top prize and trophy. The evening was long but distinguished.

Day three is always a short one and we attended a session and a half. Didn't get a chance to talk with a lot of dealers as they went to the peer session as we headed to the airport. The morning started off with what appeared to be a full breakfast and expo which is a great sign, considering some left Wednesday night. Jumping between sessions from Brian Pasch and Ralph Paglia, both were packed in an apparent tip-of-the-hat to their reputations for delivering the right data and engagement. Dealers tackled their last-minute vendor meetings and some started making plans for next April's Digital Dealer 10 in Orlando.

Overall, Digital Dealer 9 was a success for the majority of dealers and others in attendance. In our opinion, Mike Roscoe and his staff still have items to address to make it an ongoing success, some they commit they're already working toward but still have to focus harder on.

Next week there's DrivingSales Executive Summit and JD Power Internet Roundtable so we'll report from Las Vegas again...


You can read more IM@CS posts here on DrivingSales.com or on our blog.

Glenn Pasch
Great feedback Gary. Nice to see you at DD9 I agree. Overall, it was a great success with more attending than DD8. and in this environment, that says a lot. Mike and his team improved from DD8 but still some areas remain as a frustration for myself and those I spoke with. First was wireless reception in the hall. If we are Digital, why is it a problem to have working internet. We ended up having to bring a router and buy connection but so many others were having issues. That should be addressed as it was an issue at DD. Lastly, the schedule of breakouts. It has been mentioned by speakers and those in attendance that sessions ran long. The question is, what is the right amount of speakers? having all these sessions seems like a good idea but as I wrote in another post, maybe pick 4-5 tracks and cut the # of speakers in each track down so people can really educate that audience, versus having to rush through 10 slides no one has time to see. Example was the Sean Wolfington session with Paragon Honda. Most people would love to have heard all the things Tier 10 and Paragon did to create the success, but time cut us off at #6 of 10 points. This seems to be a discussion point every time. Maybe it is time to really cut the list down and give 70 minutes versus 40. Other than that, loved seeing everyone. Looking forward to seeing some of you this week at DSES. Heading to the airport later today. Let me know your thoughts Glenn Pasch is the COO of PCG Digital Marketing.
Susan Tyson
Glenn, it's Susan Tyson here. I'm the new marketing director for Dealer Communications & the Digital Dealer conferences, working with Mike & team since mid-July. I understand your desire for wireless access in the Expo hall. Incremental cost to the attendees or vendors aside (because the venue will charge one way or another), wireless access in a hall like we had at the Mirage that's in the middle of the building with concrete walls is iffy at best. It was my experience when I did conferences and conventions working at Cars.com that "free" wireless internet access at a show is worth every penny I paid -- that is, it was impossible to do a meaningful demo of our site with the slow, spotty reception available. If there's another option, we'll look into it, but more often than not our hands are tied. As for your comments on alternate scheduling of the sessions, that's something we're already looking at. It's likely there will be changes for the 10th Digital Dealer Conference & Exposition that will be in Orlando April 19-21.

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