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Shaun Kehrberg

Shaun Kehrberg Product Marketing Manager, Digital Advertising

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Why Flexibility is Key to your Advertising Success

The world of online advertising is changing, again. Just 5 years ago, most people would tell you if you have just one dollar to spend online, spend it on paid search.  Get your name on Google if you do nothing else. I think it’s safe to assume that most of you have already gotten that done.

Over the last year or so, there’s been a ton of buzz about social media.  You have to be on Facebook. You have to be on Twitter.  That’s all well and good.  Those programs have a role in your online strategy, but engagement levels on these sites tells us automotive shoppers haven’t yet decided what that role is going to be in their decision making process.

The fact is that when it comes to adverting online today, it’s no longer enough to check the box on the social media channels and run the occasional paid search or display advertising campaign. If your advertising plan doesn’t include a broad mix of flexible digital media, you may as well turn off the lights and go home.  If you aren’t saturating the online shopping experience with a coordinated message about your brands and your dealership, you will fail.

The reason? Consumer shopper behavior has shifted. Working at Cobalt I’m fortunate to have a unique view of how this is affecting the automotive marketplace.  Our Business Intelligence team analyzes millions of dealer website visits and millions of advertising interactions every week. And the truth is, even your loyal customers are engaging online with multiple brands, multiple dealerships and multiple models. Many automotive shoppers are online for potentially months researching their decision before they even step foot on your lot!

This tells us a lot about shopper behavior. It tells us that just showing up online is no longer enough.  It tells us that flexibility is what counts.

Consider the following “flexibility” tips to help ensure your advertising is present throughout the shopper’s journey with a coordinated, timely and relevant message.

Move your Advertising Budget between Profit Centers

Unlike traditional advertising, digital solutions allow a dealer to be nimble and adjust spend quickly as their inventory, market conditions and/or customer focus changes. Now this may seem like a no-brainer to you, but it’s truly amazing how many dealers are not taking the time to match their advertising budget to the specific needs of their business:

  • How much New versus Used business do you average?
  • Do you have a surplus of Used or CPO vehicles on your lot this month?
  • Is your Service & Parts business where you want it to be?

Focus on What You Do Best Today

Every month you should be sitting down with your trusted advisor(s) to ensure you are matching your current real life business scenarios with your advertising strategy. Consider the following questions to help identify your business strengths and any potential revenue-generating opportunities:

  • What are the top three models you sell best?
  • What models do your competitors outsell you in?
  • How important are repeat customers versus new ones?

Budget Optimization Increases ROI

A coordinated advertising strategy is about more than just a consistent message between channels. It’s also about optimizing a dealer’s monthly budget across all channels (search, display, retargeting, etc). Dealers can dramatically increase their ROI by investing in an advertising solution that automatically moves money to the highest converting channels.

It should not be surprising to a dealer that the ability to drive quality, highly converting traffic to their website does not correlate with having the lowest average cost-per-click. The truth is, depending on the individual shopper journey, it may make sense to pay a little more.

At Cobalt, we are able to leverage our extensive database on automotive shopping trends to predict when a consumer is most likely to buy. Shouldn’t you be willing to pay the occasionally higher CPC for a highly targeted ad automatically served to a customer who is likely about to purchase?


-Shaun Kehrberg

Great article - so true about optimizing the spend across all of the channels. Everything has it's place and the secret is determining the best mix. The ability to adjust the mix often allows for adjusting for market changes and seasonality.
Jade Makana
Love this post. It's really exciting to see how sophisticated and customizable dealer advertising has become.
Jeremy Alicandri
Dealerships need to give customers a reason to stay loyal!

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