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Can Your Digital Marketing Agency Serve Two Masters?

I was brought into a discussion today with a dealer who is considering hiring a new digital marketing agency.  This is a common occurrence within the automotive community since I offer my advice regarding vendors, products, and services to dealership executives seeking a third party opinion.


This conversation was interesting in that the agency the dealer principal was entertaining was the same agency that works for their #1 competitor.  This was a multi-franchise store and their competitor had many of the same brands.


What I was trying to imagine was what this digital agency would "pitch" to the dealer principal when on some levels they would be competing with themselves.  Is there a practical "Chinese Wall" in an ad agency that confidential information or new strategies would not be overheard or seen by another internal account management team?  I doubt it.


Think of paid search for example. It is not uncommon that dealers independently bid on a common base of keywords.  So in some sense, everyone is using SOME of each other's strategy without any direct knowledge.


However, innovative conquest strategies, effective video pre-roll scripts, and clever retargeting are definitely not common. Landing page testing and perfecting a brand's "calls to action" for a local market  takes time to develop.


So how can one agency work both sides of the conquest game?  Who wins?  Does the second dealer get all the R&D benefits for the local market?  Is there such an advantage?


Now keep in mind that there is precedent that OEM's mandate one platform or search provider for certain aspects of digital marketing but should you be hiring the same full service agency that your #1 competitor is using?  Should that agency even offer to work for the top competitor to their current client(s)?


What say you?  




Brian Pasch, CEO

PCG Digital Marketing


P.S.  If you enjoyed this post, please extend the conversation by sharing this on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.  


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Tags: digital marketing, oem, vendors


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Comment by David T. Gould on June 23, 2012 at 9:42pm

@Brian, this is a great question. I don't think a dealer should use the same ad agency as a competitor for their primary agency. Too much conflict of interest at too big of an expense if they are not that agency's priority (see Stan's remark). Exceptions could be individual campaigns if the agency brought more to the table than their competitors. (ie... banner, re-marketing, pre-roll talent / editing)

@Stan, is it bizarre that the agency would spend more time (service) for more money? That seems like one of the problems associated with using the same agency.

Comment by Tom Gorham on June 23, 2012 at 7:24pm

I wouldn't feel comfortable using a company that was also serving my competitor. I believe ad agencies and search marketers should be competing against each other on behalf of their competing clients. But of course, if it is OEM mandated, what choice do you have? Tweeted.

Comment by Stan Sher on June 23, 2012 at 2:50pm
I know here in NJ in Route 22 all of the Honda stores at one point were using the same agency. What's is even more bizarre is that the dealer that spent the most money got the best service.

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