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What can dealers do with advertising space purchased from an online ad network that will serve up the dealer's ads in front of consumers who are known to be somewhere in the vehicle purchase cycle? - 

When considering the use of "Behavioral Targeting" in an online advertising campaign, as a dealer, GM or Marketing professional you really need to get a grip on what it is and understand the difference compared to other channels.  For example, when you list your inventory on a 3rd party site like Autotrader or, you are presenting your inventory to people who came to that site specifically for the purpose of finding what is in local dealer inventory... This is easy, get your cars listed and make sure the ads, photos and descriptions look appealing.  We all know that and most of us know that the work you put into making this listings appealing will pay off, because of who is going to these sites and why they are there...

Now, compare that to Behavioral Targeting... With NT what you are buying is advertising space on hundreds of popular websites, but your ad will only appear when a visitor to that page has cookies listed in their browser's cache that indicate they have been to websites prior to their arrival on the current page, that indicate they are in the market for a vehicle... Now, pause for a moment and think about that... When BT works the way it should, the visitor to the page your ad appears on is known to be somewhere in the vehicle purchase funnel.  They could be just checking out some new models and maybe in the market to actually buy several months from now, or they could be checking their email to see if the price quotes they requested earlier that day from a competing dealer have been received yet.  ALSO, they are on a web page that has nothing to do with buying a car! Whatever that page is that your BT ad appears on, it is a website that has nothing to do with buying cars... Otherwise, you would have been placing your ad into an automotive network or a contextual placement network.  With BT, the dealer is buying ad space on NON-AUTOMOTIVE Sites, but only paying when a car buyer sees the ad!!! Get it?  

So... What does that mean? It means that whatever advertising you place using a BT network has got to be compelling enough to get a car buyer's attention when they are visiting websites NOT directly related to their vehicle purchasing process.  This can be very powerful when used appropriately.  You as the dealer are purchasing an opportunity to place an ad in front of a car buyer, an "Automotive Intender" that may have not even considered your dealership, or the brands of vehicles you sell.  Yes, if you are a true car guy, like me, who lives, eats and breathes this stuff... This really is an opportunity to create a conquest sale and attract a buyer in what some would call a "Pure Incremental" business opportunity.  

However, like all marketing strategies that seek out incremental and conquest business, it is not as easy as getting that "Laydown" up that walks on the lot... You gotta work at it.  Strategies for BT campaigns that have been proven successful include "Story Boarding" which presents a series of ads to people in the market for a car in a sequential manner in order to convey a thought process, message or idea that seems to the customer as if it were their own original thought... Think the recent movie called "Inception" and that is sort of what a Story Boarding ad campaign using Behavioral Targeting can accomplish at its best...

There are other opportunities, of course... One of my favorites is when you are trying to capture "Top Of Mind Awareness" or TOMA in a market for your dealership.  Elsewhere on ADM I have pointed out that TOMA is the only form of Marketing Campaign achievement to rival "Word Of Mouth" in impact and ability to drive showroom traffic.  TOMA campaigns are a natural for BT... Especially since with BT a dealer has the ability to reach a buyer who does not yet know the dealership exists or has not considered your dealership, but is known to be somewhere in the vehicle purchase funnel.  I have had success with BT Ad campaigns by using a series of customer quotes from a dealer's customer testimonials and reviews.  Of course, the idea here is to get a high enough frequency to achieve Top Of Mind Awareness... What is TOMA? Quite simply, if when a customer thinks about buying or servicing a vehicle, they think about your dealership, then you have achieved TOMA for that individual consumer.

Quickly... When I say "Shopping for a Car" what dealership is the first one you think about?  The answer is the store that has achieved TOMA with the person responding to that question.

So, what is BT not good at and which will sorely disappoint a dealer if they try to use BT for this objective?  First and foremost... Click Through Rate or CTR.  You may get a few people clicking on your BT ad placements, but I personally doubt those clicks are of any value.  Again, THINK ABOUT WHAT BT IS AND YOU WILL UNDERSTAND WHY CTR IS NOT THE RIGHT OBJECTIVE!  These are ads appearing on non-auto related websites in front of actual automotive consumers who are in the market... Who clicks on those ads? The flakes and mooches that are not qualified and you cannot get financed! The REAL car buyers will look at your BT ads and absorb the messaging, but take action outside of the website your BT ad appeared on... Why? Because the best car buying customers are not so flakey as to visit a website to check their current investment market prices and then say "Oh looky there, a hot deal on a new BMW, I'll drop everything I am doing and click on it to leave my investment portfolio..." But, you know who does... The flakes!

The reality of BT means that dealers have an oportunity to reach actual car buyers they otherwise could not, but the message has to be the power behind the ad, not the click-through.  BT advertising campaigns can drive traffic through organic branded searches for the dealership using BT advertising, and also generate a lot of walk-in and phone traffic... But, do not make the mistake of buying BT ad space on a network for the purpose of generating clicks... That would be best left to Search Advertising and Contextual Targeted Display Ads... As well as some Social Media Advertising, such as Facebiook PPC.

Here is a great clip on how car dealers can use Behavioral Targeting to develop specific buckets of customers that improve your dealership website's Conversion Rates... From Search Engine Traffic!

You can also learn more about using BT to drive improved website conversion rate from Search Engine originated traffic here:

I posted this as a Forum Discussion because it would be very useful to get some discussion going from people who have used Behavioral Targeting for online advertising who are willing to share their experiences with it... So, what do you think? What are some of the best ways to use BT in a dealership advertising campaign?

Tags: Advertising, BT, Behavioral Targeting, Car Dealers, Dealership Advertising, Internet Advertising

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