Social/Digital Media

TIME’s TheDrive.com adopts new tool for ‘digital-first’ car buyers

NEW YORK and DETROIT - 

The website of the multi-platform brand ran by TIME’s content and creative collective The Foundry — TheDrive.com — has added a new research and shopping page named SHOP, which instantly gives users access to the latest new and used-car data and connects prospective buyers with nearby dealers.

Currently, the new digital innovation integrated across The Drive’s network can offer car buyers data and online pricing for more than 300 makes and models.

“This initiative starts with the user’s needs at the core. With this new car research platform, users can start by reading feature articles about cars and car culture, then go from imagining themselves behind the wheel straight to pricing models and connecting with dealers,” Eric Goeres, general manager of The Drive, said in a news release.

“It’s car enthusiast catnip — doubly so for those in-market.”

On SHOP, not only can users find detailed information regarding vehicles’ make, model and trim, they can also both browse inventories and manage any of pricing and quote requests, according to TIME.

The newly integrated platform was built in collaboration with automotive digital media company Detroit Trading.

“We worked closely with management and brand leadership from Time Inc. and The Drive to develop an industry-leading automotive portal for its audience,” said Pete Bonner, co-Founder and executive vice president of Detroit Trading.

“We feel this new online resource, combined with real-time phone support from our Detroit-based segment specialists, will make the process of shopping for a new vehicle responsive, informative and, most importantly, fun! We work on a lot of cutting-edge projects at Detroit Trading, but we’re especially thrilled to be part of the exciting things happening at TIME and The Drive.”

TIME said The Drive users have access to an average of 4.5 million units of used vehicle inventory and one-click connections to an online dealer network spanning all 50 U.S. states.

“The deal comes at a time when the American auto industry just posted a record year in sales and is increasingly technology driven, with consumers doing more research online than ever,” TIME said. “The Drive pursues a younger, more mobile, more affluent audience with its broad scope of “new enthusiast” editorial coverage—an expansion of traditional horsepower, reviews and wrenching automotive journalism that includes future tech, policy, aviation, infrastructure, design, gear, military and entertainment and celebrity coverage.”

The Foundry launched The Drive in 2015, it publishes a wide range of editorial content to a mobile audience of young, tech-forward auto buffs, according to TIME.

The Drive YouTube channel has almost 2 million subscribers and its videos average 5 million views each month.

CarGurus debuts 1st TV ad campaign in 3 markets

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - 

CarGurus launched the company’s inaugural mass-media awareness advertising campaign with two new television ads it debuted on Monday.

Over the next 12 weeks, the company said 30-second commercials are scheduled to air on network and cable television in the cities of Nashville, Tenn., Austin, Texas and Denver, in addition to a national YouTube campaign ad.

The three test markets were tapped to enable dynamic campaign measurement, according to the company.

CarGurus created two humorous ads, one titled Detective and the other, Guru.

The concept of the two ads is that while consumers may feel they need detective skills or a guru to overcome the complexities of the car shopping process, CarGurus makes it fast and easy.

“CarGurus helps millions of consumers find great car deals and connect with top-rated local dealers, but many car shoppers still haven’t heard of us,” Sarah Welch, senior vice president of consumer marketing at CarGurus, said in a news release. “We’ve built a compelling solution that simplifies the car shopping process, enabling consumers to save time and money. We are excited to test into a channel that gives us more room to tell that story.”

The car research and shopping platform announced it teamed up with advertising agency Plum14 and director Nick Spooner of The Sweet Shop and Chirp Films for creative development and production, and Ocean Media will manage media planning.

“The company will measure TV’s performance as a driver for brand awareness and incremental traffic acquisition to inform a longer term offline marketing strategy,” the company said. “CarGurus has no plans to scale back its investments in digital marketing channels, but rather will test mass media as a complement and hopefully an accelerator to its proven digital strategy.”

The TV ads and YouTube commercial can be viewed here and through the window at the top of this page.

Study: Cars.com, Kelley Blue Book named top sites by consumers

COSTA MESA, Calif. - 

When it comes to shopping online, consumers say Cars.com is the best automotive third-party desktop site and that Kelley Blue Book is the best mobile site, according to the J.D. Power 2017 U.S. Automotive Website Evaluation Study Cross-Device report.

The study examines which current site functions and designs car buyers say is most effective when researching vehicles.

J.D. Power evaluated automotive third-party websites overall site function and the relevance of multiple site features to online shoppers.

In January, the consumer insights provider surveyed 8,525 new and used-car shoppers who visited automotive manufacturer websites’ shopping for a vehicle within the next 24 months.

"Over the past five years, we've seen an explosion of innovation that has been employed by third-party automotive sites, among others, to guide automotive shoppers through the process," Thomas King, vice president of PIN OEM operations, media & marketing at J.D. Power, said in a news release. "However, in the end, it always comes back to content and we have found that the top-performing sites are better at delivering key information on different devices."

Following Cars.com as the top ranking desktop site is Edmunds, followed by Carfax.

CarGurus and The Car Connection trail Kelly Blue Book as the second- and third-ranked mobile sites.

Seventy-six percent of highly satisfied shoppers on third-party websites say they "definitely will" visit the website in the future, and 75 percent say they "definitely will" recommend the site.

Navigation, appearance, information/content and speed are the four website satisfaction areas the study analyzed.

Website satisfaction is lowest for navigation.

The study finds that car buyers on a desktop computer significantly enjoy their experience navigating automotive websites more than mobile users.

Desktop evaluations totaled 4,259 and mobile evaluations totaled 4,266.

To read more information about the study and its methodology, visit http://www.jdpower.com/resource/us-automotive-website-evaluation-study-cross-device.

IAA delivers enhanced VDP to streamline data for customers

WESTCHESTER, Ill. - 

Insurance Auto Auctions announced on Wednesday that it has adopted and launched an updated vehicle details page on IAAI.com to streamline customer access to vehicle information.

The new page has up to 320 additional VIN details and comprehensive Hollander Interchange parts data, which helps car buyers estimate vehicle value more quickly and make better-informed bidding and buying decisions, according to IAA.

"Our online tools are built for our customers, by our customers. Their feedback and needs are the primary drivers and designers of these enhancements," Jeanene O'Brien, IAA senior vice president of global marketing, said in a news release. "By streamlining the vehicle details pages, we are able to facilitate an unmatched buying experience and deliver better information and better value."

To improve the user experience IAA said the page has a newly unified layout and added mobile functionality.

The enhanced page also loads 60 percent faster and uses 50 percent less network data.

IAA said customers can now maximize their search time and more efficiently choose the vehicles they may want to bid.

Additionally, registered buyers get unique data. Certain information can be revealed or hidden depending on a customer’s individual needs.

"Delivering a differentiated customer experience through data and technology is a strategic priority for IAA," said John Kett, chief executive officer and president of IAA. "IAA provides our customers with rapid access to the most complete vehicle information possible, enabling them to bid and buy with greater confidence and convenience."

To view the newly enhanced page, visit https://iaa-auctions.com/vehicle-details.

Car description words most enticing to key demographics

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. - 

Particular car shoppers respond better or worse to different words when debating which car to buy, according to new research released by CDK Global on Tuesday.

The company’s latest edition in its Language of Closers series provides demographic specific entail that is valuable to dealers seeking out ways to most effectively describe inventory on their vehicle description pages.

“Our research examined the words that would eventually lead buyers of different demographics to leave a review website and head to a dealership site,” Jason Kessler, lead data scientist at CDK Global, said in a news release. “In our most recent analysis, we were able to pinpoint specific words that shed valuable light on what vehicle traits matter most to women, Generation-X consumers, recent college graduates, and parents."

CDK found a number of words that it says resonate with multiple demographics heavily.

For example, the research revealed that mentioning the word "power" attracted several groups. CDK suggests it helps to illustrate the experience of driving a vehicle in a relatable way.

“Certain words fell flat and failed to lead prospective buyers to a dealership site,” the provider of integrated information technology and digital marketing solutions said.

Women responded negatively to “bigger,” Generation-Xers would rather read "performance" over "design" and most parents fell that both "sound" and "tech" were low priorities compared to others.

Below is a list of the top and low performing words associated with four demographics that CDK highlights.

WOMEN
Top: drive, power, trip, comfortable, luxury

Low: bought, transmission, owned, bigger, cargo

GEN-X
Top: truck, power, luxury, package, performance

Low: back, seat, design, built, difference

COLLEGE GRADS
Top: buy, work, truck, power, highway

Low: company, designed, inside, warranty, light

PARENTS
Top: truck, leased, row, nice, purchase

Low: sounds, buying, control, tech, company

"As a leading provider of websites and digital advertising for dealers and OEMs, we are always looking for the best ways to help our customers bring the right buyers into their dealership. By making subtle changes to the language used on vehicle description pages, dealers can help customers easily identify cars that they both connect with and fit their lifestyle needs," Kessler added. "Ultimately, these changes will prime both dealers and customers for success."

For more information about The Language of Closers, visit http://www.cdkglobal.com/promo/language-of-closers-reviews.

Dealers lose $380K over missed service opportunities with Gen Y

CLEARWATER, Fla. - 

Dealerships are losing an average $380,000 annually in service revenue as a result of missed opportunities to digitally engage with and retain millennial car buyers, according to a study released by AutoLoop on Tuesday.

As the purchasing power of this key demographic expands, modifications to digital engagement strategies will be required to increase low millennial retention rates, says the provider of auto industry marketing and customer relationship management solutions.

AutoLoop's 2016 Digital Engagement study suggests that significant gaps in dealership service experience has resulted in a service customer retention rate 12 percent lower than previous generations, as well as a customer referral rate 50 percent lower.

"By 2020, millennials will command $1.4 trillion annually in purchasing power and represent 30 percent of total retail sales, so it's important that dealerships know how to win their business," Doug Van Sach, AutoLoop vice president of analytics and data services, said in a news release. "Although millennials as a whole are more brand-fickle than other generations, it's a mistake to believe they are incapable of becoming loyal customers. Our research uncovered opportunities in several key areas for dealers to better cater to this elusive demographic."

The survey revealed that dealers have notable shortcomings in three key areas, according to AutoLoop.

  1. Insufficient online presence for service department

  2. Lack of digital engagement (with tools such as online scheduling, mobile apps, SMS/text notifications and eCommerce)

  3. The in-store service experience

"Dealers need to dramatically increase digital and mobile advertising for their service business, particularly on third-party websites," said Van Sach. "If they don't, they risk losing millennial shoppers to competitors, especially tire retailers and quick lube chains."

Millennials are seven times more likely than other generations to be swayed by a digital ad, according to AutoLoop.

The company found that 41 percent of millennials were influenced by a digital ad before their last service visit and that 75 percent of millennials are highly influenced by online reviews, compared to 56 percent of Gen X-ers and 32 percent of baby boomers.

Thirty-seven percent of millennials prefer to make service appointments via a website or a mobile app, compared to 25 percent of Gen X-ers and 17 percent of baby boomers. But in spite of their preference, they are particularly less likely to make an appointment, according to AutoLoop.

"These results indicate that many dealerships are still not using online scheduling tools and, in particular, mobile scheduling," Van Sach said. "It's critical that dealerships integrate their marketing and appointment programs so they can convert more millennial service shoppers into customers."

According to AutoLoop, only 48 percent of millennials always make an appointment, whereas 57 percent of Gen X-ers and 69 percent of baby boomers.

“Despite the high level of digital research by millennials, dealers are routinely outspent by aftermarket companies in digital advertising — if they are visible at all,” AutoLoop said.

Millennial shoppers also prefer SMS communications from the dealers far more, according to the study. Sixty-six percent favor SMS/text notifications, while only 46 percent of Gen X-ers and 21 percent of baby boomers.

"Most dealers still don’t use SMS to keep customers informed throughout a service visit, and very few dealers have eCommerce options," said Van Sach. "Given these gaps in the digital experience, the lower service retention rates among millennials are no surprise."

Sixty-three percent of millennials said they would like to pay by phone, compared to 51 percent of Gen X-ers and 24 percent of baby boomers, according to the study.

Millennial respondents who participated in the study cited the following three reasons as to why they prefer to pay by phone:

  1. Getting their vehicle faster (49 percent)

  2. Avoiding the checkout process (35 percent)

  3. Avoiding the service advisor (16 percent)

Another in-store experience gap AutoLoop points to is the presentation of inspection results.

Millennials lack of understanding of their inspection results has had a significant negative impact on referral rates.

Only 51 percent of millennials understand their inspection results, compared to 58 percent of Gen X-ers and 63 percent of baby boomers.

"Dealers need to focus on improving their in-store experience if they want to retain millennials' business and get more referrals," Van Sach said. "We recommend monitoring service advisors for process compliance and implementing technology that educates consumers and offers more choices, such as mobile tablets, service repair videos and pricing and financing options."

Additionally, AutoLoop’s findings suggest that millennials chose a service center for price and financing options far more often.

“This generation values being presented with different price and financing options for services,” AutoLoop said.

Thirty-two percent of millennials were found to choose a service center because of price and financing options — which is two times more than non-millennials — who are most likely to select a store due to their use of OEM parts and the expertise of technicians.

The 2016 AutoLoop Digital Engagement study surveyed 1,000 auto consumers and analyzed the purchase behavior of more than four million customers representing 1,000 dealerships throughout the U.S.

To view the study visit, http://autoloop.net/life-after-loyalty-whitepaper.aspx.

Alfa Romeo, Ford & Kia Super Bowl ads bring web traffic spike

SAN FRANCISCO  - 

During Super Bowl LI on Sunday, media, insights and marketing solutions company Jumpstart Automotive Media monitored auto shoppers visiting its portfolio of publishers in a time-trended series to see how traffic fluctuated when ads aired.

Alfa Romeo, Ford, and Kia saw the highest share of traffic throughout the game according to the data and insights published in company’s annual advertising performance report released on Tuesday.

Alfa Romeo, the top performing brand of the night, aired three commercials during the game.

“One minute after the first commercial aired, overall site traffic increased tenfold, and four of the top five searched terms included Alfa Romeo. After the second commercial aired the site reached its highest numbers in traffic and eight out of the top ten searched terms included Alfa Romeo,” said Jumpstart in a news release.

In a seperate analysis, Cars.com reported a 1,179-percent spike in online traffic for the Italian car brand’s pages.

Meanwhile, Jumpstart indicated that the most popular Alfa Romeo model searched for was the Giulia.

“The Super Bowl is one of the most exciting categories for brands to go after, and this year’s auto advertisers made especially impressive moves,” said Jumpstart vice president of marketing and strategic insights Libby Murad-Patel in a news release.

“Of course, it’s not unusual for automakers to weave current events and themes into their Super Bowl spots, but we saw this year’s advertisers take that concept to a whole new level—especially on the political front. From Ford (mobility) and Kia (eco-consciousness) to Audi (equality) and a never-before-seen post-game production from Hyundai, these brands built new experiences, connected with consumers in new ways, and proved that the love of cars and driving really is stronger than ever.”

The five brands that drove the top increases in traffic also had the highest share of active pages viewed in the two minutes following the run of their ad. 

Below is Jumpstart's recap: 

Alfa Romeo Giulia "Dear Predictable"
Length of spot: 30 seconds
Placement in game:Fourth Quarter
Share of active pages: 60%

Ford "Go Further"
Length of spot: 90 seconds
Placement in game: Between coin toss and kickoff
Share of active pages: 40%

KIA Niro "Heroes Journey"
Length of spot: 60 seconds
Placement in game:Third auarter
Share of active pages: 28%

Lexus LC 500 "Man & Machine"
Length of spot: 30 seconds
Placement in game: Second quarter
Share of active pages: 25%

Mercedes-AMG GT Roadster “Easy Rider”
Length of spot:30
Placement in game: Third quarter
Share of active pages: 10%

Car shoppers look to Twitter for offers & discounts

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - 

Consumer interest in offers and discounts on social media networks is growing: 44 percent of sales customers and 47 percent of service customers who use Twitter follow a dealership for access to offers and discounts, according to recent study.

That is one of the multiple trends social media and digital engagement company Digital Air Strike found in its sixth annual Automotive Social Media Trends Study released on Tuesday.

The study highlights consumer behaviors on social networks, review sites, and mobile devices related to the car shopping, buying, and service experience throughout all major U.S. geographic regions.

Digital Air Strike includes findings from 2,000 car buyers and 2,000 service customers who purchased or serviced a vehicle within the past six months.

“The annual Trends Study gives us very useful insights that help us build the industry’s most ROI-driven social media and digital engagement solutions,” said Digital Air Strike co-founder and chief executive officer Alexi Venneri in a news release.

“It also helps us evaluate which social media networks, including review sites, will continue to play an increasingly large role in the vehicle sales and service process.”

Top trends covered in the study include:

  • Shoppers’ increased their reliance on online research. 79 percent of car buyers and 68 percent of service customers responded that the internet helped the most when researching car dealerships.
  • 87 percent of car buyers and 90 percent of service customers who participated in the study said online review sites influenced and helped their dealership selection process.

  • Cars.com and Kelly Blue Book were selected by car buyers as the top and most helpful review sites.

  • 68 percent of sales customers and 51 percent of service customers used a mobile device to research dealerships.

Digital Air Strike executives will be at the NADA Convention and Expo in New Orleans to answer questions regarding the study at booth 3553.

Tips for proactive digital marketing strategy

CHICAGO - 

All too often, marketers count on passive digital marketing strategy when they could be taking a more proactive approach that is more efficient, says Eric Brown, president of LotLinx Media Holdings. 

“The Internet itself is evolving, that’s opening new doors for marketing execution for the local dealer and allowing for a more proactive strategy versus a more passive strategy where dealers can highly target the best prospects in the market, as well as their databases,” said Brown.

Brown said dealers need leave their showrooms and “start knocking on the doors around the neighborhood in a digital sense.” 

“With or without sales decline you’re seeing already sort of the evolution of the internet being reflected in digital strategy available to automotive dealers,” he said. “The Internet of Things is tying together the data in a way that allows auto dealers to take a more proactive approach to their ad budget as opposed to a passive approach.” 

A lot of media, particularly traditional media in addition to some traditional internet media, such as automotive portals are passive in their approach, according to Brown. 

“They do a lot of marketing through their general audience and hope that audience will show up in their virtual showrooms,” he said.

Additionally, Brown points out that with the internet of things, there is an abundance of data to understand who is precisely in the market and what they are showing greatest consideration for in terms of vehicle purchase — allowing dealers to target shoppers with much more specificity and greater cost efficiency.

“The Internet of Things is changing the landscape for a dealer in terms of the capabilities that are available to them,” said Brown. “The efficiency and cost effectiveness of those techniques are dramatically greater than the more passive traditional media.”

Brown predicts that the market will soften in 2017, but it’s not going to be substantial. 

“The trend line is pretty consistent and we still have a fleet that’s more than 10 years in age so there may be some softening as you see a climb in interest rates,” he said. “I don’t think it’s going to be dramatic, certainly nothing like we lived through in 2008, 2009, 2010. We are pretty much where we were in 2006.” 

Brown also spoke of the impact of the new Trump Administration.

“What the new administration does from an import/export scenario can have some influence,” he said.

Additionally, he acknowledges that there’s potential the new administration might have a positive impact as well, depending on what they do from an infrastructure investment standpoint.

Edmunds unveils new site design, brand identity

SANTA MONICA, Calif. - 

Edmunds opened the first major business day of 2017 by debuting a refreshed logo and what the company described as a “completely reinvented online experience.”

Officials said this launch marks the most dramatic change Edmunds has ever made to its site design, and the first time it has changed its logo this century. The company is also dropping the “.com” from its name, and will now be known simply as “Edmunds,” a reflection of the fact leadership believes that Edmunds has grown beyond a pure website offering.

“The world of automotive retail is evolving rapidly, and Edmunds is evolving right along with it,” Edmunds chief executive officer Avi Steinlauf said. “The changes we’re making to our site and brand demonstrate our commitment to significantly improving the car shopping experience for consumers and our dealer partners.”

The company explained Edmunds new site was designed from a mobile-first perspective to ensure a seamless experience for vehicle shoppers as they navigate between their desktop computers and mobile devices. Based on extensive feedback from consumers, Edmunds said its designers simplified the overall look and feel to emphasize strong visuals and eliminate clutter.

“The result is a site that’s engaging and attractive for consumers, and also gives advertisers attractive options to create meaningful, integrated messages that shoppers are more likely to interact with,” Edmunds said.

The majority of pages on the Edmunds site rolled over to the new experience on Sunday. More pages will be added on a rolling basis as the development team continues to monitor the new site’s performance.

 “When we first set out to develop the new Edmunds site, our objective was to create an emotionally engaging experience that makes it easy for visitors to quickly discover all of the information they need to make smart car-buying decisions,” said Eugene Park, Edmunds chief product officer. 

“In early testing, we’ve found that mobile users are twice as likely to return to our new site compared to our legacy experience and we’ve significantly improved bounce rates and page load times,” Park continued.

The company said the objective with the logo redesign was similar: create a refreshed brand icon that effectively conveys that Edmunds is a friendly, trusted source anyone can turn to for comprehensive car shopping expertise.

Officials pointed out the new logo brings the car icon front and center with a warm smile and a wink, demonstrating the playful joy that can be had when you find the perfect car quickly and easily. Edmunds also softened its overall color palette and is emphasizing lifestyle-focused imagery on all its platforms to continue the approachable theme.

Edmunds developed its new brand identity in collaboration with Santa Monica-based RED Interactive Agency.

Edmunds is inviting the media, dealers and automakers to learn more about the new brand and site later this month at its booth at the National Automobile Dealers Association Conference and Expo in New Orleans.

The company is also planning to use the show to give a sneak preview of some of the other innovations it’s developing in tandem with some of the world’s most influential tech companies.

Steinlauf added, “2017 will be a landmark year for Edmunds. This is only the beginning.”

X