Dealers United buys Seattle-based What’s Next Media


Digital automotive company Dealers United will be acquiring Seattle-based media and video production firm, What’s Next Media. The deal was agreed upon on July 20th for an undisclosed amount. 

What’s Next Media is designed for automotive dealers, and offers auto video content, including video consulting, as well as assets for Facebook and YouTube advertising. 

Dealers United will now integrate What’s Next Media offerings into their existing digital and social media campaigns through its dealer network. In fact, Dealers United has historically resold WMN videos, and now, its video campaigns will be incorporated into the Dealers United product suite. 

"I am so proud of what we have been able to build and do for our clients," said Andrew Myers, chief operating officer and co-founder of What's Next Media. "We reached a point where the opportunity was bigger than our ability to go after it on our own. Dealers United has been a partner of ours from the beginning - we've always had an aligned vision for putting our dealers first and building at scale. This move allows us to leapfrog our competition entirely, creating ads faster with our shared automation, access to data, powerful content, and knowledgeable teams. We couldn't be more excited for the future."

The two companies will operate together, according to the news release, and What’s Next Media’s main office will remain in Seattle, to be used as a “West Coast satellite office” to Dealers United's headquarters in Sarasota, Fla. 

Through the acquisition, Dealers United gains a team with a wide range of automotive experience; a team which still includes WMN’s co-founders. 

The companies shared their businesses have grown quickly over the past seven years — a direct result of the auto industry’s continued adoption of digital marketing trends. WNM’s video strategies work to help dealers identify and motivate customers’ actions, while Dealer’s United focuses on shopper targeting on channels like Facebook and Instagram.

Both What's Next Media and Dealers United have quickly grown over the past seven years in correlation with the auto industry's adoption of digital marketing trends. What's Next Media's unique video strategies have helped dealerships identify and motivate customers' actions, which complements Dealers United's car shopper targeting on channels like Facebook and Instagram. 

Through the acquisition, Dealers United members now have access to the following tools:

  • A full suite of new, custom video content
  • An expanded library of OEM and factory-approved campaigns
  • Quicker turnaround time and in-house video production
  • Advanced dealer customization specific to each dealership's needs
  • A unique dealer-focused strategy geared around dynamic ad campaigns

"No one can deny video's role in this industry," said Pete Petersen, chief executive officer of Dealers United. "Video is engaging; it's personal. It brings the customer onto the dealer's lot and into their newest model, it introduces their team, it tells the story of why a shopper should choose their store instead of the dealer down the street. 

“With car shoppers on average visiting a single dealer before buying, dealers have to get their story out to buyers faster and online, and WNM has really nailed turning storytelling into results. We're incredibly excited by What's Next Media joining our team. What we have built together is so powerful – and we're just ramping up,” he concluded. 

DealerStrip offers listing site catering to dealers and consumers


Now consumers and dealerships can shop for vehicles on the same website that claims to already have more than 4 million vehicles in its pipeline.

Along with offering a virtual-reality experience for consumers, said it also can provide wholesale offers to dealers to facilitate trade among stores and unload old inventory.

Site officials also highlighted that dealers can post want ads for particular vehicles they need for inventory. DealerStrip added there is no cost per lead or increasing monthly rates when a dealer’s closing ratio rises.

The platform includes a sales and marketing suite that can nurture and convert prospects through direct messaging, email marketing, and analytics.

Dealers do not need to upload their inventories. Instead, DealerStrip said it syncs with their websites.

“This saves an immense amount of time, allowing dealers to focus on more important things,” the site said.

And DealerStrip thinks this part might be best. Dealers can list an unlimited number of vehicles for retail sale for $350 a month.

“DealerStrip’s built-in sales and marketing suite ensure that dealers will be equipped with all of the necessary sales tools to efficiently close more deals as a result of one-click email marketing and analytics that show deficiencies in their sales process,” the site said.

“The intuitive interface streamlines the buying and selling processes while giving the knowledge, experience and technology to dealers whom otherwise are not provided with the sales and marketing tools or know-how to efficiently compete in their market using technology that minimizes human labor but maximizes their pipeline,” DealerStrip went on to say.

For more details, go to or watch the video available here or at the top of this page.

GM approves more ad packages from Naked Lime Marketing


Franchised dealerships that include Chevrolet, Buick, GMC or Cadillac in their portfolio now have an enhanced advertising option.

Naked Lime Marketing (NLM) recently announced that both its email and direct mail targeted marketing services are now approved for the General Motors (GM) iMR program, an expansion of the digital marketing company’s previous participation in the program.

The iMR program provides matching co-op funds that dealerships can utilize for marketing and advertising.

NLM’s targeted sales and service emails can provide dealers with branded communications that can be delivered effectively to any consumer device.

For direct mail campaigns, NLM’s database can reduce invalid or duplicate addresses to maximize efficiency and return on investment (ROI) for dealers.

“All of us at Naked Lime take it as a point of pride to be included in the GM iMR program,” said Chris Walsh, vice president and general manager of Naked Lime Marketing.

“While we already offer multiple iMR-eligible products and services, we’re especially excited about the opportunity targeted marketing provides dealers in delivering improved results,” Walsh continued,

“As a preferred turnkey provider for GM iMR match funds, Naked Lime’s targeted marketing services are now more accessible to dealers looking to present their customers with relevant, timely messages that encourage action,” Walsh added.

The inclusion of targeted marketing email and direct mail in the iMR program rounds out a full suite of marketing and advertising services available to dealers. NLM stressed the addition can enable cohesive and consistent messaging as well as robust first-party data to use for targeting.

NLM services that have previously been approved for participation in the GM iMR program include:

— Social media marketing
— Search engine optimization (SEO)
— Digital advertising
— Dealer-branded e-newsletters
— XtreamService

For more information about NLM’s GM iMR offerings, go to this website.

Maryann Keller launches franchised dealer advertising study

STAMFORD, Conn.  - 

Automotive strategy consultancy Maryann Keller & Associates will be researching the effectiveness of franchised dealer advertising in a new study announced Thursday.

The project will examine the possible correlation between lower new-car profit margins and the move towards digital advertising.

The firm’s principal, Maryann Keller, will be among the keynote speakers at the Automotive Intelligence Summit next month in Raleigh, N.C.

In her presentation — titled “Used-Vehicle Residual Values Underpin Multiple Industries” — Keller will take a deep dive into the volatile residual values of electric and hybrid vehicles to explain how used-vehicle price swings are causing ripple effects into other industries.

She will also discuss the growing tide of vehicles being bought and sold via alternative remarketing channels.

Keller’s keynote presentation is at 10:30 am ET on July 25. AIS is being held July 24-26 at the Raleigh Marriott Crabtree Valley.

She joins fellow keynote speakers Scott Painter of Fair, Lonnie Miller of SAS, Mike Wall of IHS Markit, Dennis Ephlin of IBM and Jim Landy of Springboard Auto.

The full agenda includes many more workshops and presentations geared toward the emerging automotive tech and auto finance spaces.

Traditional advertising overlooked?

Going back to the MK&A project, the firm found in prior research this year, that many dealers have cut certain digital ad partners or brought some spending back to traditional advertising — or both.

“While many industry observers predict that digital market spend will continue to increase, MK&A questions if traditional advertising mediums are being overlooked as a result of digital marketing hype,” the company said in a news release.

Franchised dealers are invited to participate in the study, which includes a 10-minute online survey. Participating dealers receive a $25 gift card and an MK&A analysis on the results of the study. MK&A will invite certain respondents to be part of a follow-up phone interview.

 More information and eligibility requirements can be found here.



UnityWorks promotes exec to VP of strategic development


UnityWorks recently promoted one of its own executives.

The provider of nicro-targeted video campaigns for automotive dealers announced the promotion of Jeff Grice to vice president of strategic development.

Grice joined the company in 2013 as director of strategic development with a focus on building scalable and customized, data driven video experiences for the company’s major strategic client partners.

The company highlighted that Grice brought a depth of digital and multi-channel marketing experience to UnityWorks having previously held senior executive roles as president and chief operating officer of several leading marketing services firms.

“Jeff’s new officer title signifies the important contributions he has made to the company and the leadership he has provided on critical strategic client partnerships with some of the leading automotive agencies across the country,” said Tim Copacia, executive vice president of UnityWorks.

“Jeff has earned a reputation as a trusted advisor to his clients and has proven to be a primary contributor to our company’s growth trajectory. This officer role is richly deserved,” Copacia added.

CDK Global Partner Program adds Hearst Autos


For the second time this month, Hearst Autos has made a significant move associated with Car and Driver in an effort to boost dealership sales activities.

On Tuesday, Hearst Autos announced today that it has joined the CDK Global Partner Program, one of the largest, third-party partner programs in the automotive industry. The partnership is designed to enable Hearst Autos’ Car and Driver shopping tools to be seamlessly implemented across the dealer’s website.

As a result of this partnership, officials explained the Car and Driver shopping tools will have improved placements on dealer’s sites. Hearst insisted that dealers can expect increased usage of the tools and faster set up times.

The company added the partnership also can allow dealers to access and consume all of their third-party data in one place.

“This partnership underscores Hearst Autos’ goal of providing CDK dealer customers with best-in-class shopping tools and data-based solutions needed to help them grow their business,” said James Tom, senior vice president sales at Hearst Autos.  

Tuesday’s announcement arrived a little more than a week after Car and Driver added a Trade-In Value tool and a Credit Score tool to make the buying process easier for both dealers and consumers.

The CDK Partner Program now numbers more than 360 partner companies and 475 unique applications auto dealers can use to run their businesses. As part of the CDK ecosystem, the CDK Partner Program provides data and workflow integration to a wide range of third parties, OEMs and dealers.

“Hearst Autos adds to our growing number of offerings in the digital marketing category, and we are pleased to connect dealers to its solutions through our website integration solution,” said Howard Gardner, vice president and general manager of CDK Data Services. 

For a full list of partners and applications available through the program, visit

Rowe returns to AutoWeb as president and CEO

IRVINE, Calif. - 

Jared Rowe is now back in the trenches of automotive marketing and with a company where his career started.

AutoWeb, which previously operated a Autobytel and a provider of digital automotive services connecting in-market car buyers with dealers and OEMs, appointed Rowe as director, president and chief executive officer on Thursday, succeeding Jeffrey Coats in a move effective immediately.

Rowe brings more than two decades of key management experience across the automotive and marketing industries, holding senior positions at FordDirect, Cox Automotive and Cerberus-backed YP Holdings.

As president of YP Holdings, Rowe was instrumental in the improvement of’s business operations and its eventual sale to Dex Media in 2017. While at Cox Automotive, Rowe served as president of the Media Solutions Group, where he was responsible for leading the Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book, and Haystack businesses.

“Jared has a strong track record of successfully implementing strategic plans to revitalize automotive businesses competing in the e-commerce industry,” AutoWeb chairman Michael Fuchs said. “His leadership and restructuring at YP Holdings and Cox Automotive led to material operating improvements and enhanced competitive positioning.

“Jared will be an invaluable addition to our company as he shares our vision of delivering the highest quality marketing products to dealers and OEMs,” Fuchs said.

This will be Rowe’s second stint with AutoWeb, as he previously served as manager of strategic business development in 1998.

“It’s been nearly 20 years since I kicked off my digital marketing career at the former Autobytel,” Rowe said. “I am excited to rejoin AutoWeb to lead the continued evolution of this digital marketing platform that specializes in providing OEMs and dealers with high-quality, performance managed campaigns.

“It is important to provide our clients with detailed attribution that enables them to understand the value and ROI our services and products provide,” he continued.

“We have a solid foundation to build from with an established brand, advanced technology, an extremely talented team and clients that value the quality of our products,” Rowe said.

“I look forward to leveraging my experiences to help return AutoWeb to growth by introducing new strategies and initiatives that I believe will unlock the company’s full potential and maximize shareholder value,” he added.

Fuchs shard his appreciation of Coats’ contribution to AutoWeb during a span that lasted more than 20 years.

“I would like to thank Jeff Coats for his many years of service and dedication to AutoWeb. He has been an exceptional CEO for more than a decade and a valued board member since 1996,” Fuchs said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with Jeff as he assists Jared during a transition period as a consultant. We wish him the best in his future endeavors,” Fuchs went on to say.

Dominion Dealer Solutions launches Dynamic Reports Portal to spotlight ‘essential dealer data’

NORFOLK, Va.  - 

Dominion Dealer Solutions announced during the recent 2018 NADA show the release of its new Dynamic Reports Portal for direct marketing.

The portal, which is designed to bring more relevant data to dealers, provides access to what the company described in a news release as the “four cornerstones of dealer management system-based marketing data”: service revenue, sales revenue, emails sent and email collection.

Dominion shared it designed the new portal to give clients a “dashboard view” of their data, as well as the ability to dive deeper when needed.

Each of the aforementioned data segments have their own widgets, along with top-level details for different campaigns. Through the main dashboard, dealers can also access detailed reports, view granular statistics and export data directly to their inbox.

“Our goal was to retain all of our previous reporting benefits, but present them to our dealers in a fast, cross-device format,” said Alan Andreu, vice president of product at Dominion.

The interface is based on extensive dealership testing and feedback, and it designed to bring the “essential dealership data” to the forefront.

Dealers can use dashboard reports to drill down to the customer and advisor levels, provide engagement, email collection and success reporting.

The Dynamic Reports Portal is accessible across all device types and is securely accessed via a password-protected log-in.




Digital Air Strike Purchases AI Messaging Platform Path Chat


Digital Air Strike announced today it has added artificial intelligence (AI) messaging platform — Path Chat — to its portfolio.

Path Chat’s AI messaging solution, Response Path, will now be integrated into Digital Air Strike’s digital and social media response platform.

Path Chat launched back at the start of 2016, and was originally designed to be used in the healthcare market. Today, it has expanded its customer base to include multiple verticals.

“Digital Air Strike has long been the leader in consumer engagement and the addition of artificial intelligence messaging technology enhances our business clients’ abilities to communicate with their customers on numerous digital platforms in multiple ways and formats – including websites, Facebook Messenger and text message,” said Alexi Venneri, Digital Air Strike’s co-founder and chief executive officer. “We are excited by the extremely innovative way Path Chat developed its messaging technology and how our clients will now benefit greatly as we integrate AI chat and managed messaging into our full suite of consumer engagement solutions.”

The integration of Response Path into Digital Air Strike solutions will combine artificial intelligence across multiple platforms including social networks with the integration of dynamic multi-vehicle quotes, according to Digital Air Strike.

Path Chat will work to close “the full consumer communication loop,” the company explained by:

  • Ingesting all forms of lead data through Response Logix
  • Nurturing prospects in the sales funnel through Smart Quote, Response Path and Social Logix
  • Ensuring greater consumer satisfaction through social recruiting, reputation management, post-sale engagement and survey technology

The solution will also integrate into dealers’ customer relationship management (CRM) and dealer management systems (DMS).

 “As a dynamic and fast-growing start-up, we are excited to join the trailblazing team at Digital Air Strike,” said Jeff Cole, Path Chat co-founder and CEO. “Combining our messaging technology with Digital Air Strike’s award-winning social media and consumer engagement solutions creates a very complete digital engagement experience that businesses must have to effectively interact with today’s consumers.”

Digital Air Strike plans to maintain Path Chat’s presence and team in Santa Barbara, Calif.

PERQ study highlights how much research buyers are doing on dealer websites


Perhaps not every potential buyer who arrives at your dealership — or, more specifically, your store website — knows exactly what vehicle they want along with all of its attributes from the amount of horsepower to placement of cup holders and power outlets.

New data from thousands of consumer profiles studied by PERQ — experts in online consumer engagement and behavior — uncovered further evidence that the majority of visitors to dealership websites are hot new prospects who need to be guided into conversion.

The research also offered key insights into the features consumers value as they make their vehicle purchase decisions.

PERQ highlighted that its new study, Car Buyer Insights Report 2018, defies the conventional wisdom that most dealership website visitors are existing customers. The reality? They are not as 74 percent are brand new and 68 percent are still looking for information to educate them about the purchase, representing prime opportunities for conversion.

But according to the data, while 77 percent are at the beginning or middle of their purchasing process, they want to transact sooner rather than later, so an efficient, engaging website experience that guides them down the purchase funnel is critical.

“We are constantly monitoring consumer website behavior and the data continues to confirm how important it is that dealerships approach their website as fertile ground for new sales, rather than as a static receptacle for returning customers,” said Andy Medley, chief executive officer and co-founder of PERQ.

“The data shows that most website visitors are new to the dealership, not ready-to-buy, and expect to be in control of their shopping experience as they narrow down their choices,” Medley continued.

Here is another example of trends highlighted in the study:

Besides safety, what else is important to you when buying a vehicle?

— Interior space: 36 percent
— Performance: 31 percent
— Fuel economy: 28 percent
— Technology: 6 percent

PERQ’s takeaway: “Your website should be responsive to how a visitor engages with interactive experiences on your website. If they’re looking for more interior space and the assessment gives them a result of mini-vans, they should have the option to immediately go to the mini-van VDP or retake the assessment even if they’re not happy with the results.”

PERQ went on to mention its research also offers key insights on consumer preferences that can help dealership websites better interact with these visitors, such as data on the number of vehicle they want to test drive (nearly a third want to test drive more than one), and what they are looking for in a drivetrain — an astonishing 59 percent said four-wheel or all-wheel drive is a priority.

“It’s critical for dealerships to expect their website to act as one of their best sales team members,” Medley said. “If they don’t, they are missing a massive opportunity, and letting all those dollars spent driving traffic turn into vapor.”

The PERQ research results can be downloaded here.