A robust dealership video strategy requires specialized expertise


As a growing number of OEM certified advertising programs offer broader choices for dealers, it is imperative to understand that choosing a video content and campaign solution is not like other forms of advertising. Unlike search marketing, video advertising should not be viewed as a commodity.

Dealers are overwhelmed with their choice of certified providers. I am amazed that dealers still have the time to sell cars when they are bombarded daily by dozens of digital advertising companies trying to sway their precious dollars to a single advertising provider. Every full-service provider will propose that they offer something different and unique and that their solution is certain to generate better conversion and greater ROI. They will suggest that it is better to place all search, display and video advertising with one agency. They will tell you that doing so will generate more efficiencies and provide the dealer with a simpler one-stop decision. I disagree.

The Obsession with Search

First, let’s touch on why I believe the industry is “obsessed with search.” There is no question that showing up on the first page of a Google search is of great value. In fact, I’ve seen research suggesting that 95% of all people conducting a search will view only the first page. If a dealer does not show up on that first page, there is a high likelihood they will not be discovered. So, I get the need to push for this positioning. And since most dealers’ SEO is not strong enough to show up organically, they have no choice but to spend a considerable amount of money on SEM to get onto that coveted page one.

With so many OEMs doubling down on the need for more search advertising from dealers, the costs rise. And because search is about consumers demonstrating clear intent and interest, demand grows. At one point in time, there were search providers who appeared to be ahead of the curve and were able to show some demonstrable level of differentiation. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case. Even new providers who appear to have found a better approach are quickly neutralized. Search marketing has become a commodity business with no way to differentiate between providers. Google has continued to evolve their tools to such a point that there is no longer a “secret sauce” for anyone.

The Need for a Video Expert Certified Provider

Now let’s shift to the world of video advertising. Video advertising today is not a commodity and should not be viewed in the same way as search. There are very few digital advertising providers who are adept at truly understanding the value of the creative ad unit, varied ad messaging and specific targeting strategies that can absolutely help a dealer reach more in-market prospects. Dealers must create a holistic video strategy and select a provider who is focused on this mobile-centric channel.

Every media platform requires different formats and ad unit lengths, and there are specific and learned nuances to most effectively drive action. For example, a Facebook video ad unit is viewed primarily on mobile devices and most views occur with the sound muted. Therefore, your ad provider needs to create shorter ad units (under 15 seconds) where the imagery creates a “thumb stop” and provides largely readable text overlays when someone checks their newsfeed. Engagement with the ad may take the form of watching more of the ad, clicking the unmute or even swiping the ad to view actual VINs on the dealer’s lot (available with a carousel ad). If a viewer clicks a VIN, they can go directly to the VDP. If they hit the video ad unit to learn more, they can be taken to a deeper video experience with the model of interest or any other models the dealer sells.

The quality of the message is as important as targeting. Be sure to work with a video content provider who utilizes brand compliant footage and creates a customized ad unit for each platform personalized to your dealership. Don’t accept a lazy ad unit that picks up a brand ad off the internet (most likely without approval or talent rights) and plops in an end card with the offer and dealer logo. Work with providers who take advantage of every precious second of exposure by getting the model, offer and dealer branding right up front. Utilize persistent dealer branding throughout the ad and include appropriate calls to action for every platform.

Without the expertise and capabilities, a provider will be unable to give you the edge that engaging video can provide, especially on mobile devices where most of the content is viewed.

Reaching Cord-Cutters with New Media Platforms

Your video provider should now be able to reach cord-cutters and cord-nevers through OTT and Connected TV. This is a major wave that cannot be ignored. With over 180 million U.S. consumers who stream video content outside of their cable subscriptions, dealers now have the opportunity to target households with specific ad messages on this platform. Consumer consumption is unique to the OTT/Connected TV experience and video ad creation for the platform should reflect that.

Beyond OTT/Connected TV, Amazon is now leveraging their massive consumer shopping data and network to reach in-market shoppers. Video advertising is available to millions of consumers on Amazon’s exclusive video inventory and on third-party apps, including the majority of Comscore Top 100 sites. Amazon is already the #3 digital ad platform behind Google and Facebook, and this powerful brand is certain to capture a greater share of the online video advertising marketing in 2019 and beyond. Other platforms to consider in a dealer’s holistic video campaign strategy include Twitter, Snapchat and LinkedIn.

Keep Your Dealership on the Leading Edge

A video specialist who keeps your dealership on top of the market by continually augmenting your video strategy is just good business. With only 2 million qualified people in the market for new cars in the next two months and 40 brands competing for them, wouldn’t you rather deliver laser-focused messaging to these scarce shoppers over broad mass marketing?

Video advertising creation is not for every digital marketing provider. Don’t assume your website company or search provider is capable of efficiently creating content customized to your dealership for every platform, especially at massive scale. In the content world, technology is a tool — not the answer. You can’t just press a button marked “engaging creative” and expect it to be magically created. You need to write a script. You need to utilize the power of video by enticing prospects with emotional messages to learn more or visit your store. You need to obtain brand compliant video content and edit an engaging spot for every platform. You need to test what works best. You need to keep content fresh.

Those were the “needs,” and now here come the “shoulds.” You should integrate your dealership photos or drone footage into your ad units for even greater dealer branding. Actual VINs available on your lot should be integrated into your lower funnel and retargeting efforts within your video ads. Each month, the offers and focus vehicles should change. The campaigns should be regularly optimized. Each video campaign should have unique targeting. They should leverage first and third-party data sources to deliver your messages efficiently — to each prospect, on any device, wherever they view video content.

Video advertising content and campaign management is not a commodity service. Leave it to the experts and you will have a better chance of bringing those coveted shoppers into your showroom.

Originally published by Digital Dealer on March 28,2019. 

About the Author

Tim CopaciaTim Copacia is Executive Vice President, Strategic Development at UnityWorks. He is a former agency CEO and automotive pioneer in Digital marketing, CRM, Customer Experience Management and Data Driven Video Experiences. He has held executive level roles at BBDO, Wunderman/Young & Rubicam, Campbell Ewald and Ross Roy/InterOne Marketing Group. He has led multi-million dollar Omni-channel marketing programs across all marketing tiers for several major OEMs. Email: tim.copacia@unityworksmedia.com