5.       Digital Advertising Messages – Before you can properly build a digital advertising campaign,
    it is important to identify and define the messages your dealership wants to communicate.  Part of this
    process is identifying who you are talking to.  Who is the targeted group of customers you want to serve
    that message to?  Keep in mind that in many cases your digital ads will be limited to three lines of 25, 35
    and 35 character spaces, so your advertising message has to be very brief and very clear!  For example,
    the exclusive availability of Ford’s Sync system and partnership with Microsoft is a great message for car
    and truck buyers that are known to use the types of electronic products that integrate with the Ford Sync
    system.  Likewise, most dealers will want to show ads that feature Ford trucks to truck buyers, and ads that
    feature fuel efficient cars to potential buyers of those vehicles… With Digital Advertising a dealer can address
    highly targeted groups of customers with specific messages that are of interest to those customers.  With Search
    Engine Advertising a dealer will know what a consumer is looking for by targeting the words that must be entered
    into a search query in order for the dealership’s advertisement to appear.  Obviously, a consumer searching for
    information on a “2008 Ford Mustang GT” is a great prospect to display an ad for your dealership’s Mustang
    inventory listing.  But, it would probably be very ineffective to show an F150 ad to that same search user.

    Here are a few examples of Search engine advertisements that are targeted to specific groups of buyers:
In-House Digital Advertising (continued)
Just like the way managers usually are responsible for managing their dealership web
site content with updated specials, lead routing addresses, sales people and other
employee listings, etc. So, the purpose of this article is to provide the key issues and
tasks any dealership management team should consider prior to implementing a
program for ongoing dealership advertising campaigns.  
Here’s a brief description of each:

    Display Advertising – Have you ever been visiting a website online and seen an advertisement embedded
    into a section of the website page?  Similar to newspaper advertisements, display advertising places your ads
    on key internet sites where you want your dealership ad to appear.  These ads can be targeted to consumers
    in your market area.  Online display advertising can be targeted by only appearing on a website when certain
    types of customers show up.  The targeting criteria that determine when a dealer’s ads will appear to a website’
    s visitors (and get billed to the dealer) can be based on a variety of customer characteristics.  Display ad
    targeting can be displayed on hundreds or thousands of websites without picking each one individually by
    placing ads based on the topics or type of content displayed on the website (Contextual).  Ads can be placed in
    the background of thousands of popular websites, but only be triggered into appearing when a visitor who
    arrives has been previously spotted while visiting another website that we know means they are in the market to
    buy a new or used vehicle (Behavioral Targeting). In a similar manner, previous visitors to a dealer or dealer
    group’s own websites can be identified and a dealer’s ads triggered to appear when they visit unaffiliated
    popular national websites (Retargeting).  Almost all use of online advertising is based on where the consumer is
    physically located (Geotargeting).  Another commonly used way to target display advertising is based on
    personal factors such as the consumer’s gender, age, income bracket, ethnic background, marital status and
    more (Demographic Targeting).
Copyright © 2008 Automotive Dealers Network. All rights reserved.
    The first thing we need to do is to limit the scope by identifying just the 2 most frequently used types
    of digital advertising so we can focus on them.

    Since they are the two that are most widely used, we are going to focus on Web Site Displayed Image and
    Multimedia Enriched “Banner” Ads (Display), and the more commonly used Search Engine Advertising (Search)
    popular today and used by many dealerships via an outside vendor.
Ralph Paglia
Director – Digital Marketing / ADP Dealer Services
Ralph has held positions such as OEM Partnership
Executive for Reynolds and Reynolds, CRM/eBusiness
Director, New Car Sales Manager, Used Car Manager, F&I
Director, General Sales Manager and General Manager. He
led the development and design of nationally implemented
CRM and eBusiness programs for Ford, Honda, Mercedes-
Benz, Toyota and other car companies. He also designed
Ford’s BDC program Mercedes-Benz StarLeads CRM
system and the Mercedes-Benz BDC.
    Search Advertising – This is primarily used by dealers to control the “sponsored links” or website descriptions
    and URL addresses that appear as linked listings when consumers search for information using very specific
    words that the dealer specifies (keywords). Dealers use search engine advertising to control what consumers in
    the area they specify see when they are searching for information about a new or used car.  With search
    engine advertising, you write the “sponsored link” that will be displayed when a consumer searches for the
    words you specify.  Your advertisement appears as a search result either on the right side of the page, or at
    the top, above the free (organic) listings.  This is far different and should not be confused with the free listings
    that appear in an order that is completely and solely controlled by the search engines.*  
    *OPINION: Many dealers confuse search engine advertising with search engine optimization (SEO). This can be a costly
    mistake  as they are very different from each other. One of those differences is that paid search advertising is a far more
    controllable commodity, with very clear rules and specifications published by the people who sell it… Google, Yahoo!, MSN,
    etc.  Although there are a few high quality search optimization service providers that charge less than $300 a month for their
    services, the business of selling search engine optimization services to dealers is riddled with confusing vendor-speak and
    scam artists that charge thousands of dollars a month to “dominate the search engines without paying them anything”.  All
    you have to do is look at a recent Google earnings report to see the truth behind those statements.
    Getting Started

    If you look carefully at the dealers who claim to have experienced success with online display or search
    advertising, you will find that the ones with the highest performing digital advertising campaigns all share certain
    characteristics in their strategy and tactical execution. The following is a list of basic digital Advertising “blocking
    and tackling” items that you must deal with in order to be successful.

    This list is based on the work I do every day for dealers who are my clients at ADP Dealer Services, and on
    what I learned while working for the Courtesy Chevrolet dealerships in Phoenix and San Diego.   Located in
    every area of the country, there are dealers who are growing their sales volume and market share, despite the
    bleak outlook for new car sales in 2008.  Each of these dealerships share similar digital advertising practices…
    They have put the following list of action items in place while building their digital advertising strategy and
    processes.  So, when dealers ask me what they need to do to get started, here’s what I tell them:

    1.        Determine who will be responsible – Whose job will it be to get your dealership’s digital advertising
    campaigns up and running.  Who will be assigned the duty of managing each campaign to ensure that budgets
    are not exceeded?  Part of that assignment is to ensure that campaigns are adjusted on a daily and weekly
    basis to ensure the maximum results for the dealership.  In many dealerships that self-administer their digital
    advertising campaigns, a full time Marketing Manager is given this assignment along with managing other
    aspects of the dealership’s marketing and advertising programs.

    2.        Determine reporting requirements – What reports are going to be prepared and used to evaluate
    the effectiveness of your dealership’s digital advertising campaigns? You will need to designate a person who
    will be responsible for gathering the data from multiple advertising campaign sources, and then assemble that
    data into a format that can be used by the dealer or other key decision makers to determine changes in ad
    campaigns, their messaging and other criteria that determine how effective digital ad campaigns are.  

Here’s an example of a report used by a dealer’s Marketing Manager and distributed to the dealer, GM and
other managers each month:
part 1 of 3

    3.        Check on your Phone Call and Lead Management Processes – Is your dealership properly set up
    and disciplined to ensure that leads and phone calls generated by your digital advertising campaigns are
    beingproperly handled?  Who is going to monitor and track leads and calls generated?  The worst thing a
with poor lead and phone call handling processes can do is to generate more of them!  Make sure you are set
up to not only respond quickly to Internet leads, but to be able to answer the customers questions and provide
them with the information they requested on the first contact.  Make sure that everybody who answers the phone
understands the digital advertising campaigns that are in progress and any offers or promotions associated with
them. All digital ads and the landing pages they point to should have unique phone numbers that allow the
dealer and managers to see how many calls were made and then listen to those calls for quality assurance.  
Dealers and managers must be sure to check on the emails being sent back out to customers so that they know
the messages being sent are the right ones and do not contradict the messaging contained with your digital
advertising campaigns.  With the right phone and lead management processes in place, and showroom
processes that integrate with campaign messages, your dealership can sell more cars and trucks using digital

    4.        Landing Page URL’s – A dealer will need to identify and define the specific landing pages to be used for
    each type of online advertisement.  For example, a dealer that advertises their large selection of Ford F150
    pickup trucks would want to serve up their inventory of those trucks to the consumer who clicks on the
    advertisement that they see online.  Likewise, if a dealer is advertising that they provide fast and free online
    price quotes, the ads should be connected to a landing page within the dealer’s web site, or a microsite that
    provides immediate access to a Request For Quote form.  Here are several examples of Digital Ad Campaign
    landing pages that make use of direct links into relevant sections of a dealer’s web site:

    a.        Gas Prices Got You Worried? Check Out Our Huge Selection of Cars that Deliver More than 35
    Mile Per Gallon - http://www.advantagecars.com/matchmaker.html?minmpg=35

    b.        Ready to Enjoy Summer? Score a Great Deal on an Exciting Convertible, See Over 30 Models In
    Stock and Ready to Put Wind in Your Hair – http://www.advantagecars.com/inventory/search2.

    c.        Looking for a Great Deal on a Used Car or Truck? Check out 30 Certified and Guaranteed
    Vehicles Priced to Sell for Below Wholesale Book  - http://www.advantagecars.com/inventory/special.

Although many dealers choose to “land” consumers who click on their ads directly on their dealer web site home
page, most dealers have found that they get better results by pointing their ads to the specific topic, offer or
vehicles that are being featured in the ad.  In other words, do not expect consumers to wade through your web
site, clicking on menu button after menu button in order to get to what your ad promised them.  Send them
directly to the section or page within your web site that serves up exactly what the ad promised!  

Using a portfolio of customized URL’s that point to specific pages and microsites is a commonly used best
practice among top performing dealers.  Here are a few examples:

  • www.Ford-Used.com
  • www.Acura-Certified-Used.com
  • www.BMWCertifiedUsed.com
  • www.Cadillac-Certified.com
  • www.Honda-Used-Cars.com