The Importance of Media Spend Attribution for Auto Dealerships

By: Rachel Bergman, Vice President Product, Display Engineering, Valassis Digital
Published Thursday, Dec 8, 2016

The Importance of Media Spend Attribution for Auto Dealerships

It’s no secret that the automotive industry is very competitive. Dealerships need to be top-of-mind when would-be buyers are in-market, otherwise they can easily lose the sale. This puts a lot of pressure on them to saturate the market with media, ensuring they have a steady pipeline of customers.

The good news for auto dealerships is that the ability to target print and digital media to consumers who are interested in purchasing a vehicle has never been stronger. While print media can be tracked to the household (HH) level, digital media sometimes lacks the same capability. And, when you can’t determine what media is working the best for you, it’s challenging to figure out where your marketing dollars should be spent. However, with the latest innovations in digital media, auto dealerships can now target at the HH level.

The key to targeting digital media to households is to only deliver impressions when you can associate them with a physical address. A link to a physical address can be captured from an email address, and/or mobile ID. Through this process auto dealerships can gather a list of physical addresses for consumers who received a media impression – enabling the dealership to then match this file against their file of those who have purchased a car during the campaign period.

Also, if the dealership is running media across print and digital, this match-back process will show whether they were more successful closing sales when consumers viewed media impressions in one channel versus two or more channels. And, of course, an analysis can and should be run on which media was most “efficient” at driving sales – in other words, ROI by channel and across channels. Data shows that consumers who are marketed to across channels buy at a higher rate than those marketed to in a single channel. In fact, omni-channel consumers have a 30 percent higher lifetime value than single-channel purchasers.1

In addition to tracking car buyers, innovation can be found in the area of tracking purchase consideration. It’s important for dealerships to understand the number of consumers who were touched by paid media that actually entered their showroom, or even the car lot, but didn’t end up making a purchase. Dealerships can track this activity through the implementation of physical beacons as well as through mobile “listening.” We could devote an entire blog post to just this – not only is it exciting from a tracking perspective, it’s also cool technologically and gets marketers pretty excited.

All said, the ability to track the results of print and digital media to the HH level is just one part of the media attribution puzzle that auto dealerships (and every buyer of media) need to understand to be able to allocate their often limited budget in the best way possible. Print and digital media is typically less costly than television and radio. Of course, this doesn’t mean that television and radio advertising aren’t efficient forms of advertising, or that they can’t make print and digital campaigns even more successful.

The truly exciting news is that the ability to properly attribute media spend is exponentially better than it’s ever been, and this allows businesses to attract the highest number of buyers at the lowest price. And, in the highly competitive auto industry, this is critical to dealership success.

1 DC Futurescape: Worldwide Retail 2015 Predictions—It’s All About Participation Now,” IDC, Nov. 2014