How Automotive Companies are Missing the Mark

How Automotive Companies are Missing the Mark

Local car dealerships and automotive companies can be smarter about targeting shoppers

Media Supervisor Lauren Akin

By Lauren Akin, Media Supervisor

I’m in the market for a new car. My lease is up in a few months and as a new mom, it’s time for a change. I started my research process, complete with Excel spreadsheets, charts, a few Google searches, dealer and manufacturer website browsing, and glancing through car review sites like Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds and Car & Driver.

Then something happened. Or, I should say, nothing happened. A few days after I began my research, I noticed something was amiss. Here I am, proactively seeking out information on which new car to buy, and I still haven’t been retargeted with any car ads. At all. Working in media, I know that once I visit a website, I am instantly put into the cookie pool. So why am I not being retargeted? This is a missed opportunity, not only from the standpoint of a local dealership, but also for the manufacturers.

How would I target myself if I were selling cars?

Digital retargeting. This is the most straightforward way to reach someone that has visited your site and expressed interest in buying a car (or whatever you’re selling) from you. You can put parameters on this like frequency caps to stop sending the shopper ads once you’ve reached a limit and it starts to get annoying.

According to eMarketer, the car industry increased its digital spend 22.4% in 2016 to $9.13 billion and makes up 12.7% of all digital spend. Knowing this, it makes me wonder what digital tactics they are using, and who they are seeking out because it doesn’t seem to be retargeting.

If you are an aftermarket automotive brand, you could take this a step further and implement affinity targeting, which is targeting based on customer interest in similar products. For example, if I sold car mats, it would make sense for me to target someone looking for a new car.

Cross-device targeting. One in four purchasers will research automotive options daily on their mobile phones. DataXu says that auto-purchasing journeys typically include 20 digital touch points spread across three or more devices. Any local car dealership should be serving me an ad after I leave the lot to build frequency and ensure that I have them top-of-mind.

As a millennial who watches a lot of Hulu and Netflix, connected TV is necessary to include in the mix. Broadcast TV has always been the go-to brand awareness medium for automakers. It has mass reach and is the perfect environment to showcase your beautiful, new shiny car. However, it’s expensive and usually comes with wasted impressions since it has such broad reach. Targeting through a connected device allows you to narrow down your audience while keeping many of the benefits of broadcast TV.

Now, imagine if a car company that was further down on my list (e.g. the Chrysler Pacifica minivan) targeted me with an ad about their industry-exclusive Stow ‘n Go seating and storage system. Now that’s something I’d buy.