Paid Point of View

Sponsored content or “native advertising” has been in the news lately after John Oliver condemned it as deceitful and amoral on his show Last Week Tonight. Oliver lamented that because sponsored content is delivered to consumers in exactly the same package as traditional content, it has the capacity to fool unsuspecting consumers. While I think some of Oliver’s arguments are off-base, he did raise an interesting point about native content and its relationship with journalism. Journalism is supposed to be unbiased whereas advertising, by its definition, is completely biased. For native advertising to work within news outlets, and be accepted by advertisers, journalists, and consumers, it needs to obey the following three rules: 1. Advertorial content should be clearly distinguishable from editorial content. Allowing an ad to pose as an article without differentiation can cross some lines. According Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Edith Ramirez in a speech last year, “by presenting ads that resemble editorial content, an advertiser risks implying, deceptively, that the information comes from a non-biased source.” The New York Times, for instance, highlights sponsored content by employing “paidpost” as a subdomain. 2. Information should be honest and accurate. I think that if a piece of paid content is going to be mixed in with genuine news or other editorial content, then it should abide by the same laws of journalistic integrity. Misrepresenting data is bad for the brand, bad for the consumer, and bad for the host of the content. 3. Sponsored content should be interesting and engaging. This rule applies to all advertising. In the world of click bait and short attention spans, no one...

Why Sending Your Digital Media Out Of House Is A Bright Idea

The internet, in our modern understanding of it, has been around for 25 years, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere. Digital automotive spend is slated to increase significantly over the next few years. We get it – digital advertising is the future and if you haven’t dipped your toe in the online waters, you could fall behind. It’s no longer a question. The real question now is, in-house or agency? Here are four reasons why you should send your digital media and online marketing out of house and to the experts: It’s cheaper and allows for smaller buys Media costs and/or network partnerships often require minimum buys that can be up to $30K per month. If a dealership isn’t in the position to front that kind of cash, digital media agencies can step in as a middleman. Digital media agencies have established partnerships with media networks and allow for much smaller buys than if a dealer wanted to go at it themselves. This allows for more flexibility, less risk, and more diversity in advertising platforms. We’re experts “Because client work is so digital, having people on the team that know digital is necessary.” Digital media agencies have done this – a lot. We know the digital media business just like you know your own business. You wouldn’t ask your doctor to sell you a car, and you wouldn’t ask your car dealer to take out your appendix. Ability to innovate “Fully 88% of US digital strategists said their firms were undergoing a formal digital marketing transformation effort.” When a new technology comes out, which can happen at...

Lead the Way: Handling In-Market Leads Like A Pro

In-market auto shoppers are unique; they have already spent 11 hours researching online before making their first contact; they know that they want a vehicle, and they might even know which one. While competition is fierce between dealers to earn that coveted sale, a surprising number of in-market leads are slipping through the cracks. Why? The service provided to email leads is often subpar or nonexistent. Here are a couple of “hacks” to ensure that internet leads are handled correctly from the start. Ramp up lead response time and quality When an in-market shopper submits a lead on a dealer site, it can take up to 4 hours for them to hear back, and sometimes they merely get a generic auto response. The best lead response? A phone call. Pull the info on the cars they were looking for and other similar vehicles, and give them a call. Use a CRM tool Automotive-specific customer relationship management (CRM) tools can be valuable; they can tell you who and what is on your lot. In other words, who is in-market, buying, and has bought from you before, as well as what you have, what you don’t, and what you need. These tools, when used correctly, can be extremely effective in managing and following up with Internet and phone leads. A CRM tool is no silver-bullet. If you fail to integrate the CRM tool into your existing processes, or have loose adherence standards, you will not get very much out of it. Invest in a BDC There are two reasons that a lead gets mishandled. One is that the salesperson fumbles it,...

Wheelin’ and Dealin’: Why We Need Auto Dealers

  Between Tesla’s very public battle against auto dealers and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruling   regarding franchises, the automotive franchising model has been in the news lately. It’s important to remember, amidst the trending news, why auto dealerships are so important in the first place – and why we need to keep them around. Customer Service With a franchise, the customer is able to go to the local dealership, speak to a person that lives in your city or town, and resolve issues face-to-face. That’s a fundamentally different approach than what’s typical of large direct-to-consumer corporations, many of which rely heavily on outsourced call centers and offer zero wiggle-room. These are the companies that have notoriously bad customer service. The franchise model allows auto dealers to advocate on behalf of the consumer and customize the experience to their individual needs. Competition Local and regional dealerships create competition within the market which drives down costs. If auto manufacturers sold directly to consumers, there would be a fixed or standardized cost at the regional or national level that would be non-negotiable. The franchise model allows for individual auto dealers to compete for business. A single car sold is more valuable to a car dealer that sells 100 vehicles per month than to a national, or international, corporation that deals in thousands of cars per day. That means they are willing to work for the business through promotional offers and value-adds. Community-based Auto dealers provide millions of local jobs nationwide and contribute heavily to local economies. They are usually locally owned and operated and compete in local markets. Even though...

The Screens Have Eyes: Capturing the Multi-Screen Audience

Over 70% of Americans have Internet access in their home, and over 80% of smartphone and tablet owners use their devices while watching television. That means that 100% of advertisers should be putting at least some of their advertising budget into digital advertising. In fact, Nielsen and the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) suggest putting at least 15% of your total advertising budget into digital, with some companies putting in as much as 60%. Pre-roll ads (promotional videos, usually 10 to 15 seconds long, that play before an online video) can be a good place to start if you want to delve into digital. They are similar to traditional television ads and they are one of the most effective forms of online advertising – about 2.5 times more effective than banner ads. Metrics Television’s gross rating points (GRPs) are not as effective in measuring the strength of an advertising campaign. With video advertising, you’ll know how many individuals saw the video (and how many times), which of those individuals went on to visit the site, and how they interacted with the site once they got there. You can even do A/B testing to identify which video drives greater engagement. Audiences Television is like breaking open a piñata; some kids will get a lot of candy, and some kids won’t get any candy. Digital advertising is like walking around the party and handing out custom goodie bags, giving candy to those who want it. Video advertising doesn’t focus on audience populations or Nielsen demographics (e.g., “females 18-24” or “males over 65”). Instead, you can target specific segments like “in-market auto shoppers” to...