Social/Digital Media

AutoGravity surpasses 1 million users

IRVINE, Calif. - 

AutoGravity has reached over 1 million users on its platform where car shoppers can browse thousands of used-vehicles and get personalized finance offers in minutes.

Since launching in 2016, the company has grown its user base by ten times in just one year.

“We empower car buyers, dealers and lenders with a cutting-edge digital retail solution,” AutoGravity chief marketing officer Serge Vartanov said in a news release. “AutoGravity eliminates ambiguity by linking monthly payments to actual cars, saving consumers time and creating efficiency for dealers and lenders.”

This year, users have requested more than $1 billion in vehicle financing via the AutoGravity platform, according to the company.

AutoGravity provides car shoppers with real-time inventory and shows users which dealerships carry the cars they browse so they can search for financing from the same indirect lenders those dealerships work with regularly.

“I bought my car last week and used AutoGravity. I applied online on my phone at lunch and within 10 minutes I had a call from the dealership,” Deb Tebbs, president and chief executive officer of Cascade Sotheby's International Realty said in the news release.

“This was the easiest car purchase ever. AutoGravity shows users everything they need to buy any dealership car, down to the mileage, options and photos, and gives them the peace of mind of selecting the rate, lender and payment that's right for them, Tebbs continued. 

AutoGravity’s key automotive lender partners currently include Mercedes-Benz Financial Services, Volkswagen Credit and Hyundai Capital America.

Additionally, AutoGravity has also built partnerships with the top five U.S. dealer groups, which includes a network of over 2,000 dealers.

Auto industry social media response rate high, but response time slow

CARY, N.C. - 

While automotive comes in as the industry least likely to be complained about in a top 10 list of industries most complained about on social media, the industry still has room to improve its response time, shows recent consumer data from Sprout Social.

“People don’t buy cars everyday — so while maintenance issues and product questions can pop up anytime, they may not have as much reason to negatively call out auto brands as they would for the CPG brand that, for example, makes the cereal they eat for breakfast every morning,” Sprout Social director of content Lizz Kannenberg said in an email interview.

“The potential payoff for complaining about your car is different than it is when you complain about your cereal; whereas you might get a coupon for a free box if you complain about your o’s or flakes, you’re unlikely to get a comparable ‘make good’ from an automaker.”

At 12 percent, the automotive industry average response rate on social is higher than the all-industry average at 11 percent. But among the list of 10 industries examined in the Q3 2017 Sprout Social Index, automotive also came in as the No. 6 industry needing the most help with social customer service.

“While the volume of consumer complaints may not be as high, people aren’t getting the responses they’re looking for when they do reach out,” Kannenberg said.

The auto industry’s average response time to consumers on social is 13.5 hours, the second longest average response rate out of 15 industries, according to the study.

“Responsiveness on social is crucial to how consumers view a particular brand. Think through how people are welcomed when they walk into your showroom, dealership or garage. You wouldn’t ignore them point-blank. Extend the same type of welcome to people who reach out to you on social to build the brand, and the customer relationships, that will pay dividends in terms of long-term loyalty,” Kannenberg explained.

Via Survata, an independent research firm in San Francisco, Sprout Social surveyed more than 1,000 consumers online between July 10 and July 14 for the study.

CarNow commits to PCG Google Analytics specification for auto industry

ATLANTA - 

CarNow announced Wednesday it has partnered with PCG Companies to support open standards for Google Analytics events and goals.

The company’s platform is now certified to be compliant with the PCG Google Analytics specification for the automotive industry.

Consumer interactions on the CarNow platform will be visible in Google Analytics using predefined event names and goals, according to CarNow.

“I am excited to be joining PCG Companies to support this open standard for Google Analytics,” CarNow co-founder and vice president of sales Tim Cox said in a news release.

“Our company has built its reputation on delivering outstanding dealer-centric software and transparent reporting. We love that our dealers can see our conversions and engagement in all of their marketing campaigns.”

PCG Companies created the public specification to enable automotive dealers to verify marketing reports and claims through Google Analytics. The specification was just published last year.

“Dealers do not always trust the reports that their technology partners provide,” said Brian Pasch, founder of PCG Companies. “CarNow’s timely participation in a larger movement for greater transparency and attribution confirms the integrity of their leadership team and product roadmap.”

Additionally, CarNow said it has been collaborating with PCG Companies to determine the key engagement indicators in both the Visual Sales Messenger and BuyNow products.

Cox and CarNow vice president of business development Aaron Baldwin will represent the company at the upcoming Automotive Analytics Attribution Summit (AAAS) in Boca Raton, Fla., from Nov. 8 to 9.

Web engagement steady; online traffic dip less steep

ATLANTA - 

This year’s end-of-summer online car-shopping drop was less notable than prior-year seasonal changes, according to new Dealer.com data.

Dealer.com’s October DataView index found that total dealership website visits in September dropped by 6 percent compared to August.

Meanwhile last year, Dealer.com found a 9-percent drop in total traffic in September compared to August. And in 2015, the monthly contrast was 10 percent.

Dealer said the Houston area saw a significant drop in both traffic to Dealer.com websites and leads submitted to dealerships, following Hurricane Harvey.

But about a month later, activity returned to normal levels just after a spike, as Houstonians shopped for cars to replace those damaged in the storm.

In Florida, following Hurricane Irma, there was also a drop in web traffic before the hurricane's landfall and returned to normal levels about five days after the storm. But there was no spike to follow in Florida, which suggests that the damage in the state was not as severe as Houston’s, according to Dealer.com.

"A critical value of the DataView reporting is providing context and understanding around cyclical industry trends such as seasonal fluctuations," Cox Automotive Media Solutions senior director of analytics products James Grace said in a news release.

"As dealers continue to carefully monitor the sales climate, the October reporting points to continuing demand and purchase intent from U.S. consumers."

Consumer engagement in September was generally consistent with how it has been through the rest of the year, meaning SUVs remain popu;ar and mobile traffic is climbing.

More specificially, 35 percent of all VDP views were SUVs, making it the most popular segment. Mobile has climbed to the point where it is now accounting for 57 percent of total VDP visits, according to Dealer.com.

Car Wars introduces AI-driven call assistant for dealers

DALLAS - 

Call tracking and marketing analytics company Car Wars recently launched a new artificial intelligence (AI) service designed to help dealers connect more callers after first introducing the automotive industry to its CRISP methodology three years ago.

“Phone calls are precious, yet every inbound call is handled in a similar inefficient way. The calls hit the same bridge or receptionist who struggles to connect the caller to the right person. Callers end up frustrated and speaking to ill-informed employees or no employee at all,” Car Wars automotive vice president Mike Haeg said in a news release.

Using AI, Car Wars’ new Cari Connect, a CRISP Agent Responding Intelligently, service analyzes DMS data and previous inbound, outbound and text conversations to determine if the caller is a new or existing customer.

When Cari Connect recognizes an existing customer, it can identify which agent handled the prior call and direct the appointment opportunity directly to the agent who last assisted the caller.

This step helps speed up the sales process because returning callers won’t need to repeat information to uninformed agents, according to Car Wars.

When a call reaches an agent, Cari Connect provides them with useful information to assist the caller. And agents also have access to the existing customer records during live calls.

“The Cari Live Calls dashboard provides the ability to actively watch calls without spending time looking through each agent's dashboard or activities,” said Arianna Goodwin, BDC manager at Asbury Automotive Group.

“The capability to click the ‘Open In CRM’ button while on phone calls has also been a huge time saver. I’ve easily been able to find active opportunities that have not been entered into our system; [Cari Connect Live Calls] has saved countless deals for our dealer group since we’ve started using it,” she went on to say.

Acura presents redesigned CPO site with new alert, sharing features

TORRANCE, Calif. - 

Acura has introduced a revamped certified pre-owned vehicle website, AcuraCertified.com.

The new completely redesigned site built to simplify the online CPO vehicle shopping process allows shoppers to compare vehicles and easily share their selections online, Acura announced Wednesday.

"With the booming growth in Acura Certified Pre-Owned sales and tremendous increase in online and mobile vehicle shopping, we are relaunching the Acura CPO site to offer users a more seamless and interactive experience," American Honda manager of auto remarketing, certified pre-owned Dan Rodriguez said in a news release.

"Based on input we received from our customers and dealers, we've reengineered our Acura site to make comparisons simple, and help shoppers make the best choice for a used vehicle."

In addition to a new vehicle alert feature for the most up-to-date vehicle availability, the new site now includes both a vehicle recommendations tool and an interactive payment calculator.

Two other key features on the new site include inventory alerts, where shoppers can create an alert to be notified when a particular vehicle is available and vehicle shareability, which allows visitors to share information about vehicles they are interested in with friends and family.

Tesla, Toyota among top 'talk-worthy' brands

NEW YORK - 

When it comes to social influence among automotive brands in the U.S, Tesla Motors and Toyota are a step ahead of many of their respective luxury and mass market competitors. This is according to Engagement Labs' latest TotalSocial ranking that measures brand performance among automotive brands in both face-to-face and social media conversations.

The recent analysis follows the company's first ranking in April. Brands to rank in the top 10 have earned the highest TotalSocial scores.

While Ferrari remains the top-ranked brand, within the last six months, Tesla has distinctly jumped ahead four spots to capture the No. 2 ranking, and Toyota climbed two spots to take third place.

Tesla’s social influence spike during the past six months, particularly offline, can be attributed to the introduction of its first mass-market car, the Model 3.

Though the Model 3 rollout included an opulent live-streamed launch party, despite having no advertising budget, Tesla has leveraged its image as an innovative brand, according to Engagement Labs.

"The automotive industry continues to perform better offline than on social media," Engagement Labs chief executive officer Ed Keller said in a news release. "The ability to drive consumer conversation offline and online has a powerful impact on sales, and automakers aren't yet harnessing the full potential of social influence."

While Tesla has dominated in offline influence, Toyota has stronger online sentiment and online influence scores compared to six months ago.

Another brand to show strong online influence is Kia. Though the brand did not make the top 10 ranking, it currently carries the highest overall online score.

Though other luxury brands such as Audi and BMW, dropped two and three positions, respectively, overall luxury and sports car brands continue to dominate the list.

Meanwhile larger domestic brands such as Chevrolet, Ford and Jeep struggle to make the top 10, Honda remains in the top 10 even after dropping two spots in the past six months.

CarGurus joins CDK Global Partner Program

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - 

CDK Global announced Thursday CarGurus has joined its partner program to allow dealers using CDK websites to gain exposure for their inventory on CarGurus.com and access leads from the site.

As a CDK Global Partner Program participant, CarGurus reporting will be integrated into the CDK Dealer Command Center.

The company said the integrated solutions will be first available to dealers early this month.

"We are excited to be able to offer our dealers more leads and more inventory exposure through CarGurus based on our new integration," CDK Global product officer of consumer-facing products Max Steckler said in a news release. "The CDK Customer Cloud becomes that much more powerful in being able to deliver more targeted and personalized messaging with the addition of CarGurus data."

CDK will integrate CarGurus' anonymized, aggregated data in its suite of automotive digital marketing personalization solutions.

The integration will amplify CDK’s ability to create personalized shopping experiences and cross-site consumer behavior attribution.

Dealers with CDK websites can target personalized content for shoppers who previously visited CarGurus on their own websites.

"Car shoppers rely on CarGurus for transparency and validation, and we are excited to be working closely with CDK Global to enhance that experience," said Marty Blue, CarGurus senior vice president of business development. "Through our relationship with CDK Global, we’re able to unleash even more power to assist shoppers and drive dealers' business results."

CarGurus uses proprietary technology and innovative data analytics to help car buyers shop its more than 5 million car listings.

The company said its site currently attracts over 23 million monthly unique visitors in the U.S.

New Autotrader, Kelley Blue Book social media program provides advertisers real-time data

ATLANTA - 

Cox Automotive announced Monday the launch of a new social media audience extension product that employs anonymous website behavior data from Autotrader and Kelley Blue Book's KBB.com.

The audience extension product is designed to help OEM's and regional associations improve social media advertising efficiency, the company said.

Advertisers can use the behavior data from Autotrader and KBB when deploying highly targeted ads on Facebook and Instagram.

"Today's customers increasingly rely on online research before purchasing, and it's critical that our industry reaches them where they are and at the right moment," Cox Automotive product operations and social media director Adam Pavkov said in a news release. "This program gives advertisers the tools they need to get the right messages in front of shoppers when it matters most."

The program creates highly-targeted and unique advertising audiences for clients using real-time browsing behavior, according to Cox Automotive.

Car buyers are divided into different audiences based on their individual behaviors and preferences, such as specific make and model, in addition to location and demographic.

Advertisers can target their different audiences on Facebook and Instagram with their own specific message.

Honda Motor Company was an early user of the service.

"We're always looking for new ways to use data to make advertising more efficient and effective," said Dan Rodriguez, manager of Auto Remarketing Certified Pre-Owned at American Honda Motor Co. "This product has helped us more accurately identify in-market shoppers and narrowly target our messaging, and we're excited by the results."

Compared to other companies, advertisers using Cox Automotive's data for Facebook and Instagram campaigns reported on average 64 percent higher click-thru rates, 497 percent higher conversion rates with a 57 percent lower cost per conversion, according to the company.

Additionally, campaigns targeting conquest and segment audiences, show 39 percent higher click-thru rates, 175 percent higher conversion rates and 22 percent lower cost per conversion, Cox Automotive said.

Edmunds adds new virtual vehicle 'fit test' tool to app

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

Edmunds announced Tuesday a new augmented reality (AR) feature for its app will soon be available to help car shoppers determine whether any vehicle will fit in their garages, parking spaces and driveways.

With an iPhone, Edmunds said the feature allows car shoppers to conduct “fit tests” virtually, with as many vehicles they want.

The new capability will be available on version 12.0 of the Edmunds app with the release of iOS 11 for the iPhone.

By tapping on the button labeled “Can It Fit?,” users can find the feature in both the tools menu and vehicle overview pages in the app.

“Mobile-driven AR technology is evolving in ways that we can now start to leverage it to make car shopping easier and more convenient, similar to the disruption we’re seeing elsewhere in retail,” Edmunds’ director of immersive technology Brock Stearn said in a news release.

“By developing and making this industry-first AR feature available within our robust suite of car shopping tools, Edmunds continues to lead the way in empowering consumers to make informed decisions throughout their car shopping journey.”

By leveraging depth-sensing, area learning and motion-tracking technology, the AR feature scans a local environment to create a 3D mesh of an environment.

The 3D mesh is used to determine if the 3D model of a vehicle can fit within any particular environment scanned.

The new feature uses the phone’s camera to scan an environment and then overlays a 3D model representative of the vehicle onto the image.

Users will be able to create "virtual walls" for driveways and other areas outdoors, according to Edmunds.

Additionally, the feature will support specifications of nearly all U.S. vehicles introduced after 1990.

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