Essentially, a cookie is a piece of code downloaded onto a person’s computer. That piece of code then communicates via a web browser to let tracking platforms such as Google know what sites a person has interacted with. That information is then sold to advertisers who use it to target personalized marketing campaigns to those individuals. Some people like seeing personalized, relevant ads, and some don’t. Some marketing companies have taken the technology too far, frightening customers with oddly specific ads after they’ve recently talked about an item or subject. First-party cookies are used to remember things like shopping carts and user preferences. While these will stick around, all major technology platforms have signaled the death of third-party cookies.
Without third-party cookies tracking users across the internet, first-party data integrations will become the only way to market to the right customers for your store at the right time. To learn more about first party data, and why it is important, check out this blog post! Thankfully, marketing with first-party data has always yielded the best results, with lower CPC, stronger relevancy, and higher engagement. In this post, we will review different advertising platforms and how to use them efficiently by connecting your store’s first party data.
How do traditional marketing companies operate?
Traditional marketing companies will use several sources of data - ad platform analytics, look-a-like audiences, keyword trends, platform-specific automotive campaign recommendation playbooks such as Google and Facebook, to craft an ad strategy. These campaign strategies rely on third-party cookies to work and are not based on your dealership’s first party data, instead, they are tracking the customers who visit the website and are then targeting audiences based on browsing history. As mentioned before, this targeting strategy leverages third-party cookies which will no longer be feasible come 2022 as Google phases them out. These marketing campaigns lack relevance to the person seeing them, resulting in low engagement.
Reporting from traditional automotive marketing companies is strictly post-mortem. While there can be descriptive and diagnostic analytics to determine what might have happened, there is no way to take a holistic look at the impact marketing has on overall dealership performance. If a marketing company has to ask, “How many cars did you sell last month,” how could they possibly know how their marketing affected your performance? Only a company connected to all of a dealership's primary arteries, it’s CRM, DMS, Inventory, website, and marketing data, can know the full picture of what happened, predict what will happen next, and understand what changes need can be made to impact the dealer’s desired outcome.
Due to the lack of customer information available on search, companies will look at keywords to try and determine which stage of the customer journey that shopper might be in. These keywords are then categorized into 'micro moments". Customers searching for high funnel key words will be directed to tier 1 sites owned by the OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturer), and if the customer is searching for more specific “why buy” or “is it right for me” keywords will be directed to tier 3 (dealer-owned) sites in their search results. This strategy often markets cars the dealers don’t have, don’t market cars the dealer does have, and can’t offer accurate payment options because they aren’t tied directly to the dealer’s inventory.
This strategy also wastes valuable search budget on customers who have recently purchased a car but search again to go on the site to schedule their first service far in advance. Those customers then then are served an ad for the car they purchased within that week. When marketers are integrated with first party data, as soon as the sale closes, that customer can be removed from the targeting audiences, so you are no longer paying to market to customers who have already purchased.
Social platforms are similar in the sense that companies will use these platforms to target customers based on characteristics and will launch different campaign types based on customer behavior and characteristics on the platform. The Facebook playbook will try to use automotive inventory ads to get you to spend more on advertising, but they do not actually integrate with dealer inventory. That leaves potential customers seeing generic new car ads and outdated used car ads that leave them feeling frustrated. More and more, shoppers are using Facebook carousels as an SRP. Therefore, to advertise appropriately, the marketing company needs live inventory flowing to Facebook with accurate information and photos. By including first-party audiences for sales and service ads, dealers can craft campaigns based on customer interests and serve them accurate inventory ads.
Heavy ups are when an OEM wants to increase advertising spend to move inventory either due to seasonality or inventory needs. However, it takes marketing companies too much time to set up the campaign and to get the funds from the dealer to launch advertising. By the time campaigns are launched, the period where the extra spend was relevant has passed. At this point, the marketing companies will provide the dealer/OEM descriptive historical data demonstrating what happened during the advertising period. Unfortunately, heavy ups often do not generate an increase in sales because the coordination between what the OEM can provide and what the dealer can do to capitalize on it do not overlap. The advertiser is not capitalizing on the increased demand that spurred the OEM interest in a heavy up in the first place because their marketing company cannot quickly adapt to changes in strategy. If they do manage to keep up, the campaigns are often generic and unfocused, leaving leads and sales on the table. Also, if a dealer does not have the inventory for the model that the OEM is trying to sell, they are completely wasting their ad dollars. In this case, Driven Data’s solution could help Tier 2 LMAs make the most of OEM heavy ups because we are connected to DMS and inventory feeds and can monitor dealer traffic in-store and online. We can see where demand is high and make campaign changes instantly, capitalizing on the demand for inventory that is ready to sell in real time. With Driven Data’s suppression strategy, an LMA could even exclude all recent purchasers from their digital marketing (with the right data-sharing agreement, of course). Driven Data’s product can achieve what a heavy up is meant to do, delivering real time campaign adjustments and first-class results due to our data integrations.
Integrate, Integrate, Integrate!
While traditional marketing companies can leverage third-party data to serve ads, ad dollars spent on these campaigns are not as effective as using first-party data to power search, social, and heavy ups. When marketers can tap into first-party data, they have all the information they need to deliver ads to the right customers at the exact right time. Marketers can craft campaigns that are customized for each customer while they move down the funnel. First-party data is the future of marketing, and Driven Data planned for a cookie-less future from its inception. How can your marketing partner possibly be serving your interests if they’re not connected to the heartbeat of your store: your data. By integrating with every primary CRM, DMS, and inventory service, we have the full picture of our dealers’ sales and service operations. Using their first-party data, we can prescribe the best marketing strategies to make the most out of every ad dollar they spend. The possibilities with these integrations are limitless and Driven Data is excited to continue delivering the best results and the highest quality leads to its customers.