How Automotive Agencies Can Use Programmatic Advertising

According to Google, an average of 24 touch-points are required to convert an automotive customer. That’s a lot, especially when you consider that 19 of those are across digital channels.

This is why an omnichannel approach to automotive marketing, both online and offline, can help drive better results. But this can be time-consuming and complex, especially when you’re trying to guide a potential customer through the entire journey on every channel.

Luckily, there’s plenty of technology that can automate the process – namely, programmatic advertising.

In this article, you’ll learn exactly what programmatic advertising is, and how you can use it to generate more customers for your automotive clients. We’ll also explore a story of how one agency used dynamic campaigns to increase clicks by 229.86% while reducing costs at the same time.

What is Programmatic Advertising (And How Does It Work)?

Programmatic advertising uses systems around buying and serving ads based on dynamic variables. It promises more effective targeting and better results at a lower cost. In turn, this provides a higher ROI for advertisers.

The core benefit for dealerships? Programmatic advertising allows you to serve the right ad creative, at the right time, to the right leads.

This technology provides a huge opportunity for auto brands due to how people shop for cars online. In most cases, buyers search for specific phrases on search engines like Google to find the content they need, making it difficult for auto dealers to target those specific buyers. Furthermore, as these keywords usually have a high “commercial intent,” it’s in your best interest to find a way to attract them.

With programmatic advertising, you’re able to capture this search data and serve the right content to those potential buyers. The first step to this usually involves uploading all vehicle inventory data into your programmatic advertising platform of choice.

While this might sound laborious, it’s usually an automated process. Your client’s data will change every day as inventory moves in and out of their dealership, which is why it’s important to serve ads to users based on available inventory, along with their browsing history, their location and which cars or vehicles they’ve searched for recently.

5 Programmatic Tactics Automotive Marketers Can Use

The automotive game is played with high-volume stakes, and to win you must target the right customers while they’re ready to buy. These days, this means getting your message in front of people searching for relevant search queries and showing intent through other data points.

But how can you reach these potential buyers when they express an interest?

How do you get your client’s brand in front of them, both as they’re doing research and after the fact?

The answer is an omnichannel advertising approach that targets their audience on all devices.

To do this, you must serve them the right message as they’re consuming relevant content. Your mission is to get them to come to the dealership, in the flesh, and start a sales conversation.

To help you achieve these goals, we’ve collected five tactics that you can use to make the most of this technology.

Using your customer data

It’s likely you’ve been in business for a while, which means you have a wealth of customer data at your disposal. This data includes everything from the last time a customer purchased, the make and model of car(s) they’ve purchased and even their interests.

Your customer relationship management system (CRM) is one of your most valuable assets. Here are the benefits of having a strong CRM in place, according to Pipedrive:

“The practice of customer relationship management includes not only guidelines for how direct interactions take place, but also CRM tools for organising and tracking all the relevant information you need to find prospects, nurture leads, close deals and retain customers, build stronger relationships, increase sales, create more personalized customer service and, overall, make processes more efficient.”

Use data from your client’s CRM to reach customers across different touch-points. Serve ads that persuade and nurture leads to take the next step in the relationship with your brand. Offer additional content around after-care and other services to existing customers.

Contextual targeting

With contextual targeting, you can serve your ads to potential buyers based on the content they’ve viewed as they browse the web. For example, if they recently checked out a review page for a specific make and model of car, you can serve ad creative for offers relevant to that car.

This works by collecting data around the context and keywords included in the content they view. From here, dealerships can then build audiences around these interests to serve and optimize ads, striking while the iron is hot.

Location targeting with geofencing

If you wish to target people while they’re in a specific geographic location, you can do so with geofencing. This mobile location-based technology uses latitude and longitude data to capture a potential buyer’s attention while they’re in an area the advertiser can capitalize on.

Geofencing is typically applied through proximity, where you target a specific town, region or ZIP code to serve ads – both during and after their visit.

Another geofencing tactic is through “conquesting,” where you target the location around your competitor’s lot and serve ads to those who visit them. These are especially effective when used with copy that highlights what makes you different.

Keyword search remarketing

Where “contextual targeting” focuses on the content a user views, keyword search remarketing is based on what they search for in the search engines.

You can target keywords based on location queries (e.g. “best ford dealership toronto”) or product-based queries (e.g. “best car for new families”). You can then serve ads to these users as they browse content on other websites and online publications.

Content and website-based remarketing

For those who visit a client website and don’t take action, you can capture their attention through the power of retargeting.

How does it work? When a visitor lands on the site, their browser (with permission) remembers this activity as they browse the web. Using remarketing, you can then serve ads further along the buying cycle as they browse other websites.

This content could include special offers based on the vehicles they expressed an interest in, or a call-to-action to generate an inbound inquiry and visit you at a dealership locations.

When executing on these tactics, must also measure results based on engagement metrics, conversions and foot traffic. Couple your programmatic advertising platform of choice to ensure you’re generating a positive ROI from your results.

How This Agency Used Programmatic to Increase Clicks by 229.86%

Let’s round this article up with a story:

Full-service marketing agency Mudd Advertising serves over 4,000 clients across the US. A large chunk of this includes automotive dealerships and other players in the industry.

Dave Meindl, Mudd Advertising’s Project Analyst, used dynamic campaigns in order to better promote their clients. This would save them having to manually stop and start ad campaigns based on the inventory that was moving in and out of dealerships.

In Meindl’s words, once Mudd got set up using dynamic campaigns (via Acquisio), along with their budget management solution (BBM), “literally overnight there was a shift where clicks went through the roof because cost per click was drastically dropping.”

“I can pull up any account on BBM and see results. The change starts to happen immediately. After just a few days results would peak and continue on a slow upward trend for clicks and a slow downward trend for cost per click. It’s really amazing,” Meindl continues.

How did they do it? By automating the majority of the management and bidding process. This allowed them to free up time to focus on more strategic areas of their client accounts.

As Meindl puts it, “human beings are great with vision, creativity and seeing a campaign’s potential, but 90% of what we do in SEM is all data-based and programs are always going to be able to do that faster and better than any human could hope to do.”

By taking this automated, data-driven approach, Mudd Advertising managed to generate the following results across their accounts:

  • An average of 229.86% increase in clicks
  • 66.49% decrease in average CPC

For one particular client, Mudd managed to achieve a 145.16% increase in clicks and a 52.65% decrease in average CPC year over year:

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The most impressive part of this transformation was the speed in which this improvement occurred. Using BBM, Mudd managed to increase clicks by 68.11% and decrease CPC by 41.10% in a month. “On the extremes, one account experienced a 1632.38% increase in clicks. Another account experienced an 82.17% decrease in average CPC,” shared Meindl.

Want to learn how agencies and automotive brands get results like these? Learn more about Acquisio here.


Featured image: via Unsplash / Casper Munk

Image 1: via Acquisio

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley

Tom Whatley is the founder of Grizzle, a content marketing agency that helps B2B, SaaS and tech companies generate more traffic and leads through high-value content and distribution.

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