360 Media Plan Necessary for Automotive Marketing

A decade or two ago the auto-intender purchase funnel was fairly simple and linear. The path consisted of awareness, followed by consideration, which led to multiple dealer lot visits, then the purchase. Fast forward to present day and between an enormous shift in lifestyle habits, gender and income demographics, media consumption, and the near unlimited options available to the consumer, that purchase funnel path has become much less straight forward.

At the center of those changes is the shift of media consumption habits in both the Offline and Online spaces. Now the average consumer is not only exposed to, but engages daily with multiple mediums. As such, it’s necessary for any retailer in the auto category to utilize a 360 approach to marketing. The days of newspaper as the go-to media buy are over. It is now crucial for any dealer and their agencies to embrace the digital world. Digital users are trending heavily towards not only teens and millennials, but the 40+ demographic as well.

Within Traditional media, television and radio continue to be important, with print and direct mail much less so. Outdoor can still be effective, but with a suggestion to utilize the growing :07 digital formats. Event marketing sponsorships are a nice complement to impact local community consumers. Regarding television, this medium is not the best qualitative avenue in reaching actual auto-intenders. However, television’s strength is the ability to reach the masses for branding and awareness. Since the auto segment is a heavy visual product, television remains important, coupled with a desire to be top of mind if and when viewers do enter the market.

Having a 360 ad presence within the Digital environment is a necessity to reach consumers in their average day. The Display channel can be bought programmatically utilizing DSP’s or direct to the AutoTrader.com, Cars.com, KBB.com, and Edmunds.com auto-endemic properties. Online Video is a digital channel that has exploded with users recently making :15 video ads highly desirable. The increased Video consumption is only surpassed by Mobile. At the top of the dealer’s to-do list should be Mobile Geo-Fencing campaigns serving ads within a designated GPS radius of the dealership or its competitor.

Paid Search should represent a strong concentration of the digital program. Although Google is indeed the market share leader, Bing/Yahoo generates a 27% percent search market share. Ignoring those hand raisers is not strategically sound. Additionally, much attention should be on carefully crafted ad copy, including utilizing dynamic ads. E-mail Marketing rounds out the paid digital space and should be used, but limited. Organic channels such as SEO and Social are much less quantifiable yet still necessary, with an emphasis on SEO. Landing pages could not be more crucial. Relevant content for the user must be top of mind when designing and determining these pages. An irrelevant landing page is a bounce rate’s best friend. The thinking needs to be “shoppers” and not users, “consumers” not clicks. In short, always be thinking high quality leads versus blanket impressions.

At the end of the day, the once simple purchase funnel has become much more involved and ambiguous. For Tier 2 and Tier 3 organizations to remain not only successful but competitive on a daily basis, a well-rounded comprehensive 360 media plan is required. The key being to reflect a delicate balance of both macro level mass media branding and awareness, and micro-targeted auto-intender specific executions.

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