Advertising/Marketing

PCG becomes newest NIADA National Member Benefit partner

ARLINGTON, Texas - 

PCG Companies recently became the National Independent Automobile Dealers Association’s newest National Member Benefit partner, and now provides discounts to association members.

NIADA members can receive discounted rates on PCG's suite of online specialist certification courses and its library of published works, and they also have access to digital marketing packages. 

"This end of our business is moving at lighting speed, driving much confusion, uncertainty and new challenges to our members," said NIADA senior vice president of member services Scott Lilja in a news release.

"PCG's resources will certainly help address many of those daunting yet immensely lucrative opportunities."

In addition to the online courses and marketing packages available via the National Member Benefit program, PCG also offers a variety of marketing and training services designed for dealers in the independent market.

"From our experience working with independent dealers, we realize they require a different level of digital marketing and education services than large dealer groups," added Glenn Pasch, PCG chief executive officer.

"We are excited to work alongside NIADA to be able to provide those services, and are proud to be a National Member Benefit Partner," he said.

New website plans to offer free vehicle history reports

LAS VEGAS - 

A new website is set to launch on Tuesday that aims to provide free vehicle history reports that are supposed to include title records (including mileage), accident records and potential title brands.

Officials from VinCheck.Info explained that they can offer this information to consumers since their advertisers will be covering the cost.

VinCheck.Info is looking to meet the needs of buyers who want to run a VIN check on their own as well as those who want to compare results with data obtained from sellers. The site insisted results are based on data compiled from various industry sources, non-profit organizations and government agencies including the National Motor Vehicle Title Information System (NMVTIS).

VinCheck.Info also said its mission is “to make comprehensive vehicle history reports available to as many consumers as possible by offering these services at no cost.

“The web-based service believes in empowering consumers to use the latest data delivery technology for protection from fraud and unsafe vehicles, and to help prevent the resale of stolen cars,” site officials continued.

VinCheck.Info added that it also plans to offer VIN decoding as well as a license plate lookup tool soon at no cost to consumers.

For more information, visit www.vincheck.info.

Car buyers increased online research means less dealership visits

CARY, N.C. - 

Consumers' grasp of more online vehicle research channels than ever means fewer dealership visits because car shoppers depend on digital resources to educate themselves, according to Netsertive’s latest survey on U.S. car shoppers’ buying patterns.

The digital marketing technology company’s Automotive Shopper Path to Purchase Survey found that 67 percent of respondents only visit up to one to two dealerships before making a purchase.

While 45 percent of consumers know which brand of car they want when they begin their research, 34 percent say they don’t know which dealership they want to buy from and look to online resources for guidance.

The most popular channels for research are consumer reviews, local dealer websites and search engines, according to the survey.

Additionally, the study also found that almost 50 percent of car shoppers use mobile devices to conduct their research before buying.

This highlights dealer’s need for mobile-optimized websites in order to remain competitive and attract these customers, Netsertive said.

“The automotive industry is extremely competitive, especially now that buying decisions are increasingly made before customers visit a dealership,” Netsertive chief executive officer and co-founder Brendan Morrissey explained in a news release.

Netsertive’s study examined more than 500 U.S. consumers using Google Consumer Surveys.

For additional information about the Automotive Shopper Path to Purchase Survey, visit https://www.netsertive.com/new-study-finds-car-buyers-visit-fewer-dealerships/.

Overstock.com launches vehicle buying & financing platform

SALT LAKE CITY - 

One of the consumer-facing websites known for offering discounted furniture, rugs, bedding, electronics, clothing and jewelry is getting into the car business.

On Friday, Overstock.com announced the launch of the beta version of a new online vehicle-buying platform, Cars by Overstock. Site officials highlighted the full-service platform can help customers navigate every aspect of the vehicle-buying process, including research, purchasing, financing and protection plans.

Financing and insurance options are available through Ally Financial and CarCheq.

The site indicated data and editorial content for in-depth automotive research is provided through a partnership with TEN: The Enthusiast Network’s award-winning automotive brand MOTOR TREND.

Once their research is completed, customers can search Cars by Overstock’s database of nearly 4 million new, used, and certified pre-owned vehicles from thousands of dealers across the country before negotiating directly with the dealer, in some cases in complete anonymity.

Another beneficial feature of the platform lets customers easily browse and purchase high-quality vehicle protection plans for qualified new or used vehicles from trusted warranty providers, including plans for their current vehicles.

In addition, the Cars by Overstock platform can provide financing and refinancing tools so that customers can find competitive financing options for almost every budget and credit situation. The platform will also include comprehensive insurance offerings in the near future.

“We designed Cars by Overstock to provide the most full-service online car-buying experience available,” said Patrick Byrne, Overstock’s chief executive officer and founder. “Our process enables a consumer to conduct superb research efficiently, enter into negotiations, purchase warranty plans, and obtain financing.

“With Cars by Overstock, we’ve provided a safe and fair platform for both consumers and dealers from a trusted brand with nearly two decades of experience helping customers use technology to find exactly what they want, for less,” Byrne continued in a news release.

Scott Bailey is president of automotive at TEN: The Enthusiast Network.

“This partnership is a groundbreaking solution to deliver MOTOR TREND’S automotive data, research, content and insight to a new audience, in a new format,” Bailey said. “Going beyond the traditional retail elements that Overstock.com does so well, we’re excited to bring a wealth of content that in-market shoppers can utilize to enhance the auto shopping and research experience.”

Officials went on to mention the new service can give consumers the flexibility to negotiate a deal on their own terms, in some cases in complete anonymity, creating an easier and pressure-free vehicle-buying experience.

Additionally, the service is meant to empower both consumers and dealers by minimizing the time it takes to complete a vehicle purchase.

“Consumers will always have the ability to contact the dealership directly if they choose a more traditional experience,” the site said.

Cars by Overstock is currently housed as its own tab on Overstock.com.

For more information, or if you are a dealer that would like to become part of the Cars by Overstock network, visit cars.overstock.com.

BMW iVentures leads Shift's $38 million Series C funding

CARY, N.C. - 

Online car retailer Shift has landed a $38 million round of Series C funding led by BMW iVentures.

Making the announcement on Wednesday morning, Shift said the round also included new investors DCM Ventures and G2VP, and previous investors DFJ, Highland Capital and Goldman Sachs Investment Partners.

BMW iVentures partner Christian Noske is now on Shift’s board of directors, with DCM’s Jason Krikorian and G2VP’s Brook Porter joining as board observers.

“We are interested in technology companies that challenge the status quo and build products that help improve transportation options for consumers,” Noske, the BMW iVentures partner, said in a news release.

“Buying a car is one of the most expensive purchases most people ever make and we appreciate that Shift is committed to making this experience not just good, but great,” Noske said. “It is obvious that with Shift's proprietary technology, world-class team of engineers and forward-thinking workforce, the company is set to become a leader in the used-car market.”

The company said over half of its customers are between ages 18 and 35. Nearly three-fourths of those using the loan piece of the platform fall into that age group.

Shift said this resonance with millennials has helped drive its success, noting that it is the “leading seller of pre-owned cars” in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Given those trends, Shift is looking to expand to new markets, and part of this funding will be used to do exactly that. The company also plans to invest further in technology and adding to its team.

It currently has operations in the San Francisco Bay Area as well as the Los Angeles and San Diego regions, with an engineering hub in  Washington, D.C.

This is not the first time Shift has worked with a more traditional auto industry player like BMW. 

It was announced in December that Hertz would use Shift’s online vehicle sales platform to sell its fleet vehicles directly to consumers.

In June, Shift announced a BMW giveaway contest, revealing the winner earlier this month on Facebook. 

“BMW is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic car brands in the world, which truly makes this a pinch-me moment for the entire Shift team,” Shift founder and chief executive George Arison said in a news release. “We are also honored to have DCM and G2VP join us with such significant participation in this round.

“Over the past two years, we have improved and adjusted our model with the same mission in mind: to provide customers with a better car buying experience by providing an unprecedented level of transparency and test drives delivered to their door. We could not ask for better partners than BMW iVentures, G2VP and DCM.” 

This news also follows fellow online car retailer Vroom announcing a $76 million round of funding on Thursday. That brought its total equity funding up to $295 million.

Vroom said in a news release that this Series F round was led by “certain funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.”, which was joined by prior investors L Catterton, General Catalyst Partners and PICO Venture Partners.

LotLinx launches 2 new AI-driven consumer experience products

CHICAGO - 

To generate more high-quality conversions for car dealers, LotLinx has expanded its VS product suite with two new CX solutions designed to enhance and customize the customer experience, the company announced on Thursday.

The new products include CX - Photo AI and CX - Amplified Mobile Pages. Both have been equipped to extend VIN-specific consumer engagement and stimulate more profitable digital advertising campaigns, according to LotLinx.

“The auto industry is constantly evolving, particularly with the shift from traditional ad spend to digital campaigns and outreach,” LotLinx founder Len Short said in a news release. “With these new consumer-oriented products, we’re taking a ‘dealer-first’ approach with solutions specifically designed for dealers who are faced with increased days-on-lot metrics. This is an exciting step forward for our company.”

CX - Photo AI can boost underperforming ads with optimized stock photos using artificial intelligence, and CX - Amplified Mobile Pages offers dealers mobile-friendly VIN landing pages optimized to drive high-value conversions.

“Because today’s online car shoppers are 90 percent more likely to view an ad that contains an image, and will wait just 3 seconds for a page to load before abandoning, the logical next step for LotLinx was to release the consumer experience-oriented CX suite,” the digital advertising technology company said.

Photo AI was created to both formulate more relevant and visually appealing ads for viewers and detect when ads are running without an image, according to LotLinx.

“As global consumers rely more on smartphones for their shopping, AMP delivers faster, conversion-enhancing pages, allowing dealers to make the most out of mobile,” the company added.

Additionally, LotLinx recently expanded its VIN-specific solutions for Facebook to include VS - Lead-Enabled Retargeting and launched the LotLinx TURN platform earlier this year.

Cox Automotive Media Solutions outlines digital marketing strategy series

ATLANTA - 

Cox Automotive acknowledged today’s retail landscape moves faster than ever. And if dealerships and other industry participants are not out front, everyone can risk falling behind.

Reflecting its position as a leading provider of products and services for automotive dealers and car buyers, Cox Automotive on Monday announced the launch of Nextology, what the company highlighted as an exclusive, future-forward digital marketing strategy series presented by Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book and Dealer.com.

Utilizing a fast-paced interactive format and exclusive insight culled from its category-leading network of consumers and dealerships, Cox Automotive explained that Nextology events will foster deep connections with leading digital marketing strategists and experts as well as other top dealers. The events will combine dynamic working sessions, data-driven keynotes and strategic consultations, all in a premier setting with overnight accommodations provided.

“The Nextology series will be underpinned by our deep understanding of and relevance to our clients' day-to-day marketing and operations challenges,” said Brian Geitner, president of Cox Automotive Media Solutions.

“We’re excited to create a new level of value for our clients by delivering direct access to Cox Automotive and media executive leadership as well as internal subject matter experts in a consultative, collaborative and collegial environment,” Geitner continued.

The company noted attendees will also learn about and demo new and emerging products from the automotive industry's leading digital marketing platforms.

The Nextology series builds on Cox Automotive’s commitment to dealer education. The company has hosted events in dozens of markets across the country, bringing insights and best practices to more than 2,600 attendees representing 1,600 dealers.

Following a successful launch in Miami last month, the next event will take place at the Intercontinental Hotel in Boston on July 19 and 20 and will feature a keynote address by Geitner. Additional dates will be announced later this year.

For more information about Nextology programs, visit dealer.com/events/Nextology or to register for the Boston event, go to this website.

Clarivoy & Cars.com study spots limitations of last-click attribution

COLUMBUS, Ohio - 

Here’s another way store managers can measure how impactful — both from reach and cost perspectives — their online presence is.

Dealers using Google Analytics are now able to accurately attribute the value of third-party sites such as Cars.com, according to the initial findings from a trial use of Clarivoy’s Multi-Touch Attribution solution.

In an April trial with Cars.com, officials highlighted more than 100 Cars.com dealer customers upgraded their Google Analytics platform with Clarivoy’s Multi-Touch Attribution solution. The Clarivoy solution is designed to help dealers understand how all their digital marketing investment efforts — not just the last click or interaction — influence the car buying journey.

The company indicated the initial use of Clarivoy’s solution revealed that Google Analytics misses the cost-effective conversion value of sites such as Cars.com. For instance, on average, dealers who implemented the multi-touch attribution solution saw conversions on their sites attributed to Cars.com increase by 37 percent with a 20 percent decrease in cost after two months in the trial.

Clarivoy pointed out that the results were even more dramatic when dealers considered the conversions that occurred directly on Cars.com. The addition of Cars.com data — Cars.com leads, vehicle description pages (VDPs), and trackable walk-ins — to this multi-touch attribution model allowed one dealer to identify 11,390 conversion events that happened on the Cars.com site in addition to the original 103 reported by Google Analytics.

According to Clarivoy chief executive officer Steve White, dealers typically rely on Google Analytics to help them understand the impact of their advertising. However, White insisted the true value of a third-party auto site doesn’t show up in Google Analytics as it is by default set up to give all of the credit to the last click.

“Typically, what we see is a lot of third-party websites do not get the credit they deserve because in most cases the last engagement that occurs with the dealer’s website is either branded search, organic or direct traffic,” White said. “As a result, sites such as Cars.com become invisible to Google Analytics when trying to evaluate performance.

“Dealers needed a solution that helps them see the actual impact a partner like Cars.com really brings and the ability to compare that to their other marketing channels in one dashboard,” he continued.

Cars.com chief revenue officer John Clavadetscher reacted to the trial findings, too.

“Time and time again, we see dealer customers overspending on paid search, because they are only measuring marketing impact based on the last click,” Clavadetscher said.

“By understanding the full customer journey leading up to the last click, dealers are able to better understand the influence that Cars.com has on the path to purchase and make more informed decisions about how to allocate their marketing spend,” he went on to say.

When shopping online, many customers view a dealer’s VDPs or submit an inquiry right on the Cars.com website, and this data is never reflected in Google Analytics. Clarivoy’s native integration can offer several benefits including:

• Clarivoy’s Attribution Channels classify data more logically and accurately specifically for dealers

• Dealers can apply cost data from all digital marketing investments to evaluate the true cost per engagement and cost per lead using Clarivoy's proprietary multi-touch attribution model

• Insight into Cars.com conversion activity, including VDPs, lead submissions and Lot Insights data

“The biggest differentiator of our solution for dealers is our independent, unbiased approach for analyzing and reporting data. We don’t have a stake in the game,” White said.

Clarivoy’s Multi-Touch Sales Attribution platform can focus on user-level attribution, allowing dealers to transparently view a consumer’s full purchase path, sorting and ranking the influence of each channel’s contribution — paid search, display ads, TV, email, third-party websites, organic search, social and brand website — to understand what is really driving sales.

For a copy of the Clarivoy/Cars.com case study, go to this website

How marketers are tackling budget & format challenges

CARY, N.C. - 

No matter what size screen consumers might be seeing the promotional message, securing budget is the current biggest concern for automotive marketers, according to a recent study.

In today's ever-evolving digital landscape automotive marketers must capitalize on every opportunity online to engage shoppers to remain competitive, making it a challenge to decide which aspects of marketing to direct ad dollars.

As a result, 40 percent of auto marketers named securing budget as their top concern when asked by GetResponse for its recent study, Email Marketing and Beyond: Global Industry Benchmarks.

GetResponse created its research report in partnership with Holistic Email Marketing, an email marketing consultancy.

Their findings are based on a survey of 2,510 email marketers who belong to a range of industries.

The study also found that the automotive industry has one of the lowest click rates among the group of 18 different industries evaluated.

At 18 percent the average click rate reported by automotive marketers is the second to lowest, followed by the internet marketing at 13 percent.

The average click rate across each industry is 3.9 percent.

The auto industry is first when it comes to using automation, and travel marketers were found to use it the least.

Seventy-three percent of auto marketers say they do and just 46 percent of those in the travel industry.

Additionally, only 11.80 percent of marketers are using lead scoring and 17 percent of automotive marketers were found to.

Where to market?

The desktop is where the auto industry receives most of its traffic.

A total of 65 percent of the industry's traffic comes from desktops, according to a recent study by ContentSquare examining the user experience of customers.

The company’s study, "Solving the Automotive Industry’s Ecommerce Challenges," also suggests that marketers focus on visuals to engage consumers online. It found that of the shoppers it surveyed, 40 percent of them interact with the visuals on product pages.

For example, on pages with visuals about new technologies, they recorded traffic increased by 127 percent, according to the study.

While the desktop is important, the same shoppers also use their mobile devices to shop, so marketers must focus on winning the consumer mobile moments too says Dominion Dealer Solutions director of managed marketing services Amy Peck.

“Mobile has changed the way consumers search and shop, and has put a huge emphasis on local SEO, near me searches, for example.”

“In the automotive industry, a lot of time is spent talking about managing local SEO website, headers, tags and keywords. Often, dealers ignore areas that have a huge impact on their SEO.”

She said another thing to keep mind is how voice search will affect traffic. Online searchers via artificial intelligent virtual assistant devices such as Amazon Echo are becoming popular for consumers.

“Typically, voice searches are longer tail searches asking for more information. It is critical that a new or used-car dealership’s website content is conversational- always looking to answer questions consumers may have about the dealership,” Peck added.

Cars.com pinpoints most-searched used models in May

CHICAGO - 

Thanks to a new patent from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Cars.com produced what the company said is a first-to-market solution that can pinpoint key mobile shopping data from consumers actively looking for vehicles on dealer lots nationwide.

Using Lot Insights technology, Cars.com created the new On-the-Lot Trends Report by analyzing mobile consumer shopping behavior throughout the month of May to identify the top viewed makes and models by segment for both used and new vehicles.

First introduced in 2015, Lot Insights technology (Patent No. 9686646) can identify mobile consumers on or near dealership lots to provide valuable insights for automotive advertisers. The patented technology allows for more precise, accurate, location-based consumer data for Cars.com dealer partners.

“While most digital companies are interested in clicks, likes or impressions, Cars.com is focused on efficiently driving buyers into dealer showrooms,” Cars.com chief executive officer Alex Vetter said.

“Mobile data intelligence, like Lot Insights, allows us to analyze those consumer behaviors and directly measure how digital activity impacts sales,” Vetter continued. “We have been at the forefront of the mobile revolution in our industry, and this new Lot Insights patent is an example of how Cars.com is leading mobile innovation.”

Cars.com chief product officer Tony Zolla added, “By mapping and geofencing the perimeter around dealerships with this level of precision, we can better understand today’s shopping trends & behaviors, which is critical to making value-added connections between consumers and dealers.”

 Here are the top viewed lists for used and new vehicles searched that appears in the May report:

Used Luxury Vehicles:
1. Mercedes-Benz C-Class
2. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
3. BMW 328
4. BMW X5
5. Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Used Compact Sedans:
1. Honda Civic
2. Volkswagen Jetta
3. Toyota Corolla
4. Mazda Mazda3
5. Subaru Impreza

Used Midsize Sedans:
1. Honda Accord
2. Dodge Charger
3. Toyota Camry
4. Nissan Altima
5. Ford Fusion

Used Full-size Sedans:
1. Nissan Maxima
2. Chevrolet Impala
3. Chrysler 300
4. Ford Taurus
5. Toyota Avalon

Used Trucks:
1. Ford F-150
2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
3. Toyota Tacoma
4. Toyota Tundra
5. Ford F-250

Used SUVs:
1. Jeep Grand Cherokee
2. Jeep Wrangler
3. Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
4. Ford Explorer
5. Chevrolet Tahoe
6. Toyota 4Runner

Used Luxury SUVs:
1. BMW X5
2. Acura MDX
3. Land Rover Range Rover
4. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
5. Porsche Cayenne

New Luxury Vehicles:
1. Porsche Panamera
2. Alfa Romeo Giulia
3. Land Rover Range Rover
4. Mercedes-Benz E-Class
5. Porsche Macan

New Trucks:
1. Ford F-150
2. Chevrolet Silverado 1500
3. RAM 1500
4. Toyota Tacoma
5. GMC Sierra 1500

New Compact Sedans:
1. Honda Civic
2. Hyundai Elantra
3. Volkswagen Jetta
4. Subaru WRX
5. Subaru Impreza

New Midsize Sedans:
1. Dodge Charger
2. Honda Accord
3. Toyota Camry
4. Ford Fusion
5. Hyundai Sonata

New Full-size Sedans:
1. Nissan Maxima
2. Chrysler 300
3. Chevrolet SS
4. Chevrolet Impala
5. Ford Taurus

New SUVs:
1. Jeep Grand Cherokee
2. Jeep Wrangler
3. Jeep Unlimited
4. Toyota 4Runner
5. Ford Explorer

New Luxury SUVs:
1. Land Rover Range Rover
2. Porsche Macan
3. Land Rover Range Rover Sport
4. Audi Q7
5. Porsche Cayenne

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