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The Auto Industry is Unique, Marketers Should Take Advantage


Digital marketers in the automotive industry need to take advantage of the uniqueness of the industry. There are two specific factors I want to discuss that make the industry so unique. First, the auto industry is required to report industry-wide sales to the government and the public. Second, its transactions are done entirely in-person rather than online. Unlike other industries, it provides unique opportunities for automotive digital marketers. For instance, because all sales are reported, marketers have the ability to match online shopping behavior with offline in-person vehicle sales. Without this industry-wide sales database, matching online behavior to offline sales would not be possible. This is essential, as all sales are done in-person, as I said.

In addition, each transaction provides several different data points that can each be used for different marketing purposes by different marketing teams. For example, the price point consumers are paying for each specific model and its top competitors can help those marketers at the OEM who are responsible for pricing products so they are competitive in the segment. The trade-in data, which can help determine consumer loyalty to a brand and its competitors, can be used by the marketing agency working on behalf of the auto brand. While the data points showing how consumers are financing the vehicle can help those marketers in the automotive financing and insurance business. Those are just a few high-level examples, of which there are many more. Many of these data points are just simply not available from purchases of other products, or simply don’t apply to other industries.

A Unique Way to Identify Ad Fraud

One unique way an automotive marketer, specifically those creating and measuring media campaigns, can utilize the uniqueness of the auto industry is to use that O-to-O (online-to-offline) sales matching solution to identify ad fraud. The O-to-O solution is capable of measuring all your ad placements individually and report back on how many consumers, who were exposed to the placement/campaign, actually purchased a new or used vehicle. As you serve hundreds of thousands of impressions you expect to see at least a few sales matched to each of those placements. Most digital media marketers in the auto industry would be shocked to see how many placements, that have been served one-hundred thousand times or more, come up with zero sales matched. Not just sales of the brand being advertised, but zero sales of any brand. Not just zero new vehicle sales, but also zero used vehicle sales. I have seen this with my own eyes numerous times. I’ve seen it happen on regular programmatic campaigns, and even on third-party auto sites that claim to have “premium” ad space.

We all hear about the huge problem of ad fraud, but it still surprises people when they see the data. Now, these numbers aren’t absolute proof of fraud that can be used to legally recoup the money spent on the ad space. However, they are proof that those ad placements didn’t reach actual in-market consumers. So if those are people, and not bots, they certainly aren’t car buyers. And if you are paying a premium price for this type of performance, that’s fraud in my book. I know I would feel like I got robbed and I would definitely be cutting those ad buys and/or targeting segments out of my media plan. This ability to identify ad fraud in this fashion is unique to the auto industry.

Because of “limitations” in the industry (in-person buying only, and mandatory vehicle sales reporting) digital marketers in the auto industry are provided with an advantage other industries can’t enjoy. There are many other ways to take advantage of the uniqueness of the industry. Perhaps I will explore others in future blog posts. But until then, if you’re a digital marketer in auto, challenge yourself to identify some of those advantages that can help you in your day-to-day work.

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Michael Thomas, Director of Analytics

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