How Can Auto Dealers Use Advanced Digital Advertising?

How Can Auto Dealers Use Advanced Digital Advertising?

Before we go full throttle into all the different ways in which auto dealers can utilize digital ads to drive traffic into their dealerships and increase sales, I couldn’t resist throwing in some fun puns to start us off. There is no denying that the automotive vertical is one that is fueling the advertising industry. It seems like no matter what you’re doing or where you are, you’re hearing and seeing ads from car dealerships and car manufacturers. Watching TV? There is a commercial for Ford; Checking your mail at the end of the day? There’s a postcard for a free oil change with any service work from a local dealer; Listening to the radio? You’ll hear an ad to come down and check out the lot for certified pre-owned cars.

Let’s take a look at some of the more advanced digital products that are a good fit for auto dealers:

The first strategy that is a unique opportunity for auto dealers is taking advantage of Amazon and all that Amazon has to offer. When we talk about placing ads on Amazon, it is actually so much more than that because not only are we reaching people when they are on, but we are also reaching that same user when they are off Amazon, and are on other Amazon owned properties (, IMDB TV, and Fire TV), and the thousands of other websites and apps that Amazon has partnered with (Amazon Publishers). We can show display, video, and/or OTT ads across all these different platforms ( is only display ads). Here is the real kicker though; we are using the vast amount of data that Amazon has accumulated about its users and their car interests, to target these folks.

One of the huge benefits for auto dealers, is that Amazon has Amazon Vehicles and Amazon Garage and uses this data to create targeting categories for your ads. Amazon Vehicles is a great spot for users to gather info on cars, check out specs, and read reviews on all types of vehicles, and you can target these consumers both on and off Amazon. Amazon Garage is where customers enter their car model and year to see parts and accessories just for their vehicle, and we can then target to people who own specific makes, models, and year.

With our Amazon Premium ad offerings, we can many targeting strategies. We can target by Behavior Targeting (as noted above), by Products Targeting which is people who have looked at or browsed on Amazon, by Custom Audience Matching using a data list of email addresses and/or physical addresses the dealership might have, and we can also do Retargeting. An example of how Behavioral Targeting would work is, maybe a dealership is trying to reach people who are in-market for a used Jeep, or a Hybrid car. We can now use certain type of behavioral targeting categories that are gathered through Amazon data and Polk Predictive Data to target those users.

With Product Targeting, we will build an audience of people who have searched for, browsed or purchased specific products on Amazon, and show them a display, video, or OTT ad across (display only), Amazon owned properties and across Amazon Publishers Network. They way this works is the dealership would tell us three products of interest that they want to target, and then we create that audience and show those people ads. For example, we can target people that have searched for, bought, or browsed floor mats, windshield wipers, or auto repair kits.

For the last targeting strategy within Amazon Premium, we can do Custom Audience Matching and Lookalike where we can We take a list of customer emails or addresses, match them to Amazon users and show them a display, video, or OTT ads across (display only), Amazon owned properties and across Amazon Publishers Network of websites and apps. With this option, the dealership might choose to target customers based on a list of people that have received service work from that dealership but have never purchased a vehicle there. They could also target people with expiring leases, or previous buyers with equity, or people that have signed up for a test drive, but didn’t purchase a car. Something that is available with this particular targeting strategy in order to show the dealership their return on investment is a Match Back Report. With this, the client will be able to see how many people saw their ad and then purchased a car, or signed up for a test drive, etc. This is a great tool because dealerships love to see those metrics!

Social Mirror™ Ads are one of the newest products that we offer, and they are getting a lot of traction! For most dealerships, they have someone on their staff that is maintaining their Social Media pages and posting content to their Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, etc., accounts.  But, Social Mirror™ Ads are not typically something that they are going to be able to run on their own. With Social Mirror™ Ads, we can take that Social Media post and mirror the exact look of it, except that ad isn’t going to show up on Social Media, it’s going to show up on thousands of other websites and apps targeted to the audience they are looking to reach. A great way to know if Social Mirror™ ads are going to be a good fit for a dealership is to check out their website and see what Social Media icons are listed. Those are great platforms to talk about. We can create Social Mirror™ ads from Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube, and TikTok posts.

The way these ads are created is we take the URL of that particular post the dealership wants to use, and then we create it into an ad.

In the example above, I am reading an article on Bloomberg and embedded in this article is what looks to be a Twitter post, but it’s actually an ad on Bloomberg.

With these types of ads, there are three different call-to-action opportunities:

  • Clicking on the call-to-action button will take you to that advertiser’s website
  • Clicking on the Social Media logo or the profile image will take you to Social Media Business Page
  • Clicking on the Social Media icons will take you to that particular post on that Social Media page

Here is a quick video to show you how a Social Mirror™ ad would look in action, and where you land when you click on certain parts of the ad:

When it comes to the various targeting strategies that are available for Social Mirror™ ads, you can target by Behavioral Targeting, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Keyword Targeting, and Retargeting. Some of the categories of consumers that an auto dealer might be interested in showing a Social Mirror™ to would be:

  • Auto Buying and Financing
  • Auto Enthusiasts
  • BMW
  • Buick
  • Cadillac
  • Car Electronics
  • Chevrolet
  • Dodge
  • Engine & Transmission
  • Luxury Vehicles (New)
  • Luxury Vehicles (Used)
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Sedans (New)
  • Sedans (Used)
  • Sports Cars (New)
  • Sports Cars (Used)
  • Trucks & SUVs
  • Used Vehicle Seekers
  • Vans & Minivans (New)
  • Vans & Minivans (Used)

Another top strategy that we see often with automotive is Native Ads. Nine times out of 10 when it comes to ads, dealerships are running display ads, but I have found that Native is a product that dealerships aren’t as familiar with. These ads can be in a display or video format and they match the look, feel, and visual context of whatever website or app they are appearing on, across all devices. Native ads tend to get higher engagement with consumers because they blend in with the content of where they are appearing, and they don’t necessarily look like standard ads.

When it comes to buying a car, the sales cycle is going to be a lot longer than if you are buying a pizza. Which means people are going to be doing their research and gathering as much information as possible before they make a purchase decision. Sixty one percent of people are doing that research and are shopping online.

Now because people are doing a lot of research about a certain type of vehicle or a certain brand of vehicle, Native ads are going to be a good option because just like with Social Mirror™ ads, we can also target by Behaviors, Keywords, A.I., and Retargeting. So, if someone were doing research about SUV’s that are good in the snow, they could be putting themselves in the following categories, so they now have the opportunity to start seeing ads from different dealerships or manufacturers:

  • In Market for New Car
  • SUVs (new)
  • SUVs (used)
  • Subaru
  • Trucks and SUVs
  • Wheels and Tires
  • Vehicle Wheels and Tires
  • Used Vehicle Seekers

Since that person has being doing research and maybe has looked at “what cars are best in snow”, some keywords that dealership could be targeting might be:

  • Snow
  • Snow Tires
  • All Wheel Drive
  • Vehicles in the Snow
  • Winter Weather
  • Winter Driving

If that user now goes to a webpage that contains those keywords, they have the potential to see that Native ad.

The number one product that car dealerships really like is Mobile Conquesting™, and that is because not only does Mobile Conquesting™ have a lot of different ways to target consumers, but there are also some cool bells and whistles that are going to come along with that product. With Mobile Conquesting™, we can target by Online and/or Offline Behaviors, we can Geo-Fence and Geo-Retarget locations, and we can also use a list of addresses that the dealership might have, with a strategy called Address Targeting and Address Retargeting.

By targeting through Online and Offline Behaviors, we can reach those that have done their research and have put themselves in various categories like:

  • Automobile Dealers- New Cars
  • Automobile Dealers- Used Cars
  • Automobile Parts
  • Car Enthusiasts

On top of targeting by behaviors, we can take it a step further with Geo-Fencing & Geo-Retargeting. This is where we take a virtual fence and put it around certain locations, like a competitors’ business, and serve ads to anyone that is within that Geo-Fence while they are at the location. If we add on another layer where we are going to continue to serve ads to those people AFTER they leave the Geo-Fence, that is called Geo-Retargeting. Another strategy we could layer on isn’t a good fit for every type of business, but it is a great fit for car dealers because it is a great way to stimulate that new car envy with your neighbors, and that’s called Geo-Retargeting Lookalike. With this, we are following those people that were Geo-Fenced back to their homes, and now their neighbors are starting to see the ads. Car dealers love this option because if you see a snazzy brand new car in your neighbors’ driveway, that might inspire you to start poking around with the idea of also getting a new car.

Another strategy within the Mobile Conquesting™ umbrella is Address Targeting and Address Retargeting. This is a great option if a dealership has a list of current customers, past customers, or any CRM list that they have generated. For example, maybe they have a list of people who are coming up on their lease. If so, we can take that list and target that individual address and serve ads to people on their mobile devices while they are at that address and then continue to serve them that ad after they leave that address when maybe they go to the store, or the bank, or to work. This allows for the dealership to really drive home the message they want to deliver to a very specific audience.

One other option that is available under the Mobile Conquesting™ umbrella is Cross Platform Targeting. What this option is going to allow for is people being able to see that same dealership’s ad on any other devices that they use, not just their mobile device. That means that if someone is served a Carvana ad on their phone and then later goes onto Facebook on their desktop, they can see that Carvana ad on Facebook while using their desktop because of Cross Platform Targeting. The types of ads that we can use for this option are Display ads, Native Display Ads, Facebook and Instagram, Social Mirror™ Ads, and Video Pre-Roll Ads. By adding in this option, that is going to help accelerate the conversions that dealership receives because typically consumers aren’t doing comparison shopping or filling out lengthy forms for credit approvals on a mobile device, and they instead do that on a larger device, which is exactly what Cross Platform Targeting will deliver. People are doing research on multiple devices with the main device being a desktop or a laptop, so by adding in the Cross Platform Targeting option, you can reach that same user on multiple devices.

Now I mentioned earlier that Mobile Conquesting™ also has a few bells and whistles that come along with it, and one of those is that we can track on-site visits. Dealerships love this because they want to be able to see their return on investment. With on-site visit tracking, we can show the dealership how many people saw their ad and then came to their location within 2 weeks of seeing that ad, which is a very powerful metric. Another great option with these ads that car dealers like is that we can dynamically insert how far that user is away from the dealership. That could be a determining factor when people are looking to buy a car because maybe they don’t want to travel too far so with this option, the ad would display how far away that user is from that dealership.

Running Video Ads is another great strategy for auto dealers to utilize because consumers like videos! Video ads are more captivating than text ads with 80% of viewers recalling a video they’ve seen in the last 30 days, which is the highest of any type of digital advertising. There are a lot of different ways to use video ads such as Video Pre-Roll and Over the Top (OTT). With Video Pre-Roll ads, these the ads that appear before you are able to watch the content you originally clicked on to watch. The strategies used to target with this type of video ads are Behavioral Targeting, A.I., Keyword Targeting, and Retargeting.

Most car dealers are already advertising on local TV networks and stations, but if they aren’t doing OTT, they are missing out on a huge audience that is part of the “cord cutters” and “cord nevers” generation. If these consumers don’t have a cable or broadcast subscription, how is that auto dealer going to reach them with their video ads? By adding in OTT and/or Video Pre-Roll, they are now reaching that audience of almost 50 million that do not watch regular cable or broadcast TV. OTT ads appear within the programing that someone is streaming through the Internet, and the targeting strategies that will accompany OTT are Behavioral Targeting and A.I..

Facebook and Instagram are another great tool for auto dealers and they might be doing it in-house, or maybe they aren’t, but there is a whole lot more to Facebook and Instagram besides just posting to that auto dealers page or boosting posts. For example, with Facebook and Instagram, there are more platforms they can utilize to showcase their ads on, besides just the News Feed. Ads can also be displayed within Facebook Messenger, Instant Articles, Facebook Audience Network, Marketplace, and Stories (also available for Instagram). The other nice thing about Facebook and Instagram is that you can run different types of ads and show off various products. Maybe a dealership wants to showcase all their new cars, or their used cars, or a combination of trucks and SUVs; they can do that with Facebook and Instagram Carousel Ads or Collections Ads. Another option within Facebook is to run Lead Ads or Offer Ads. With Lead Ads, this allows for the dealership to capture lead information of their choice in order to follow up with them. With Offer Ads, this is a great way to offer incentives to people, which can be used as another metric to show the return on investment.

Facebook and Instagram offer a couple different ways in which to target users; Behavioral Targeting and Custom Audience Matching. With Facebook Custom Audience, we can take a list of phone numbers or email address or first name, last name, zip codes, and upload that to Facebook/Instagram and find those people when they are on Facebook/Instagram and serve just that group of people those ads. This is a great strategy to utilize if a dealer has some sort of customer list they want to reach out to.

The last strategy we will talk about is Online Audio ads. The irony of this is that I am writing this blog while listening to music on my laptop through Spotify, and I just heard an ad for Taco Bell’s Nacho Fries, and now I want Nacho Fries. Online Audio ads are audio ads that are served to targeted online listeners who are consuming audio content across all types of devices, including Smart Speakers. This is a great strategy because you can reach people while they’re listening to music, podcasts, or sport events on their desktops, laptops, mobile devices, and Smart Speakers like Alexa, Google Home, and Sonos, etc.. Just like with OTT, we are going to pair Behavioral Targeting and A.I. together to reach users when they are online, engaging, and tuning in to different audio platforms like Spotify, iHeart, and SoundCloud. This is a great product to add in if a dealership is doing traditional radio, because we can take that same :15 or :30 ad and target it towards specific listeners. Growth in Smart Speaker ownership is a result of multiple devices in households. In 2020, Smart Speaker households owned an average of 2.2 of the devices, up from an average of 1.7 just two years ago.

There are a lot of different ways out there for the automotive industry to get their name and message out to current customers and potential customers, so the next time you see a TV ad, or hear one on the radio, or get that postcard in the mail, think about all the different ways they could be targeting their exact audience through digital advertising, and tell them Johnny Lawrence sent you.

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