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HI Ralph,
While I've been a member and have learned alot from reading the threads this question finally got me to answer. As a media rep (print and Internet) on the streets talking to dealers everyday your question prompted me to ask the question back to you. What do you think of this? This concept is something I have been talking about for along time with the print being magazine versus newspaper. For some reason Internet managers and BDC managers have been reluctant since "print is dead". Do the professionals in the Internet Departments really feel print combined with Internet will not add leads and ultimately sales to their departments? As someone that came from the dealership culture and have used all media to gain business I'm excited to see this subject on here.
It's not hard to figure out who I work for and I'm sure there are supporters and detractors out there. When I look at a dealership, the biggest question I have to answer is how can I drive traffic using the tools I have. Whether that be emails, Clicks, Phone, IM or Walk ins, they are part of your business and making them quantifiable is the challenge. With, the lines get blurred as to where the lead was generated if not properly worded in the ad. Are you using a micro site for those that choose to click on the ad? Call tracking, to the receptionist or the Internet Dept? Are we going to put an email address on the ad?
Then comes the question of audience and reader intent. While the paper offers reach and frequency, does it reach the right audience? In the info provided on the website they state advertisments are behind weather and entertainment content. How would this effect the spending decision?
I would be curious to hear your thoughts as well as those of others. I think the print/digital advertising concept merits alot of attention to drive more traffic and sales.

Thanks for such a well thought out response... Contrary to popular belief, I am a much bigger fan of "Integrated Marketing" than I am of putting all advertising investments into one bucket... Whether that bucket be digital, print, broadcast, outdoor or whatever. The problem for many of us over the last 10 years has been a disproportionately small investment into digital media. When this is combined with low-demand driven pricing of digital media, and high-demand pricing of other medias, especially newspaper (print), along with a massive migration of car buyers to the online world... Well, we end up with thousands of automotive digital marketing practitioners yelling out loud that the emperor has no clothes on! This cannot possibly be the state of automotive marketing forever, because it creates a window of opportunity or some dealers to gain competitive advantage in their marketplaces. Ultimately, the price of interactive digital medias will rise as demand rises, the porices for other medias will drop, as demand drops, and everything will come back into place, or at least become a lot closer to equilibrium. At that point we will be back to where messaging and content will become, once again, the primary driver of competitive advantage... Just in the past 3 years I have personally seen PPC Search Advertising go from being an incredible, ALMOST too good to be true ROI marketing investment with high click-through rates and cost per clicks in the sub-50 cent range, to what we have today where click-through rates are declining due to advertiser saturation and CPC's over $1.50 are looking good! What we got in 2005 for $1,000 is now costing $3,000 and average gross profits have not gone up... So, we move on to the next thing, whatever that is... But, somehow in all this changing and shifting media environments I sometimes think that the process of playing the "media arbitrage" game has distracted us from the importance of messaging and content.

All too often, I hear dealers complain about low click-through rates, or bad conversion numbers, and when I look at the ads, the message generates a big yawn, or worse yet, a "big friggin' deal" that offer sucks!. I see dealers pointing ads touting their new car inventory to their home page and then they wonder why their bounce rates top 80%... Or they have questions like "when will you be buying a car" that offer customers a drop down answer selection made up o something like "now", "tomorrow" and "this weekend" and they wonder why their form abandonment rates are over 90%. Somehow, I think the ability to make lower CPM rate buys has become an excuse for poor marketing.

20 years ago when I was placing ads in the newspaper every week, when they did not work, we did not say "the newspaper didn't work" we said "that ad must have sucked". Yet, today we see dealers questioning the media mix more than they question the message, content, look and feel of the campaign... Somehow, i think that we sometimes go too far in overselling the value of interative media on a CPM or CPC basis and we then lose sight of the fact that a shitty message sent to more people at a lower cost just means more people see a shitty message!

My own approach is to constantly be scanning the horizon for all forms of media buying opportunities and to put the emphasis on what the messaging and advertising content will be... Then using the highest value media to deliver that messaging content to more people in a manner and format that makes best sue of the nature of the media... I mean, who hasn't stared with their jaws dropped, mouth gaping open at what has become of outdoor advertising in Las vegas? Holy mother of J****, how could anybody not see THAT messaging? And, when I look at all the numbers objectively, from multiple sources, it is amazing how many people visit a website as a result of a magazine ad...

So, what do I think? I think we are currently in a transitionary period where newspapers are learning how to transfer their unique content values and infrastructures that create that content into an online product so they can grab some of those dollars that are shifting from offline to online medias... And, there is a whole new world of interactive marketing and media that will get more and more expensive over time until we get back to the business of having a better message than our competition, rather than simply having people like me and those that belong to this community working for them and buying 1,000 impressions for what the newspaper used to charge for 1. Right now we throw a lot of crap out there on the web, and we put so many thousands of eyeballs on it that we think we are geniuses when we sell a few cars... When in reality, we simply are better at buying more eyeballs for less money than the dealer down the road who is still paying 100 times more money, and may have a better message but it costs him too much money to get it out to enough people... That will evenetually change and we will have to become as good, or better, than we were a generation ago, because the media cost discrepancies will have corrected themselves.

In the meantime, if we have a truly compelling message that a customer hears when they are driving their car, sees when they look at the Sunday paper, drives past on the way to work, sees in the "Arizona Highways" magazine at the dentist's office and then sees again when watching TV... Well, when they go online and do a Google search for that dealership or brand and my store's sponsored link is at the top... Well... Kapowee! You just sold a car, Elmer! And, if I am REALLY smart, i will be the Internet Sales Guy that praises how all those different media helped drive that customer's search terms and i was so gosh darned smart to have bought the terms that I just KNEW those ads would stimulate! Give me raise! I am God's gift to Automotive Marketing!

Yes, i believe in Integrated Marketing campaigns that are optimized across multiple media channels and bought as cost effectively as possible... Including using Google Adwords to bid on newspaper advertising! The heck with the newspaper salesperson, I want a deal. Do I like radio? Not that much, bujt when I can buy it for the right price online, well... "yippe yi yo cuy yay... Only at the Big C!".

Thanks for the great insight into the mind of one of the premier Internet Guru's. If I would have had this information when I was sitting across the desk from you at the Big C a couple of years ago, I may have earned your business!

Part of your response made me think about a comment I heard from Chip Perry at He always makes the comparison of Internet spending being at 11.5% of dealers budget while other "traditional" less effective media comsumes a lions share of the budget. With the increased products available online I can see pressure to increase online spending, with that said what would be a benchmark that should be established? Wasn't the Internet touted as the low cost, high ROI advertising solution for dealers? You mentioned dealers throw "crap" online just to get more eyeballs for the investment, what can we do as an industry, on both sides of the desk, to make the message more effective and increase the ROI?
I know this may sound simplistic in nature, I'm just trying to figure out how to assist dealers sell more cars and obviously get more advertsing for my company.

By the way, I know what you mean about Vegas. It used to be part of my territory, wish I could get some of the results those billboards get up there!

Hmmmm.... You just proved true my long held belief that one should always speak in public as if everyone they have ever worked with was in the audience!

Also, one of these days I will share with you the story about how I fought to buy newspaper advertising when the deal offered was simply "an offer we couldn't refuse", and I lost the fight because of a damaged relationship between my boss and the newspaper publishing company... :-)
Some great commentary. The branding aspect of traditional media is huge and in my opinion the best use of these forms of interruption marketing, unless you mix in the classified style publications. People buy or pick these up because they are looking for something since all they contain is ads.

Then you have to chose what to advertise. Do you try to build a story or throw out your longtails, individual inventory items, to generate responses? Mixing up the message incorporating both may be the best way to test responses.

Any exposure you can generate cost effectively is worthwhile. Something that is lost I see in most marketing campaigns and was reemphasized in a conversation I had today, people know you sell cars, now you must give them a reason to do business with you or your store.

When you test your messages ie story versus selection then mix your messages to test, test and test.

A good analogy is how I test PPC for affiliate conversions.

Take a group of keywords and write five ads for them. Monitor CTR vs impressions vs conversion, replace the under performers until you have 5 or more good converting ads then tweak your landing pages. Using heat maps and following the click streams.

Wash, rinse, repeat

The real joys of marketing :P

Paul Rushing

This is great stuff... In all this discussion, we may have forgotten about the many technical advantages that Digital Advertising provides from the perspective of working the mechanics of advertising optimization.

Imagine if we could track how many people actually read a newspaper advertisement... And, then adjust those ads to maximize the "read-through" rate. With interactive media, we can actually do the equivalent!


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