Marketing Exec Leads Internet Site Panel in Discussing Price Transparency

Price negotiation for most consumers is often described as one of the most arduous parts of the purchase process, according to Joel Ewanick, managing partner of Global Automotive Systems, Inc. The former GM chief marketing officer led a panel discussion about “Vehicle Price Transparency” with four third-party website executives at the October J.D. Power Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) in Las Vegas, NV. Excerpts from the panel discussion are highlighted in this post.

Moderator: Joel Ewanick, managing partner, Global Auto Systems, Inc.

 Panel Members:

Seth Berkowitz, president and COO,

Larry Dominique, executive vice president, TrueCar, Inc.

Jared Rowe, President, Kelley Blue Book

Alex Vetter, senior vice president,

Third-Party Website Leaders Define Business Models

Joel: I see that companies like yours are trying to help the consumer through the process. Can you explain what you do, what your business model is, and then we’ll start to compare and contrast?

Seth (Edmunds): “At Edmunds, we’re working through a major transition. For years, we’ve been an information and pricing authority. We probably have the largest repository of automotive information on the Internet with somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.5 million pages of content. We’ve decided that being this comprehensive encyclopedia of automotive information isn’t enough. . . We’ve decided to make car buying easier. We are going to do this by fostering trust—which is at an all-time low— between consumers and dealers.” Continue reading ›

Mary Ann Keller Says the Franchise System is Here to Stay

Mary Ann Keller speaks about the franchise system at the New York Automotive ForumThe franchise system remains strong and in place in most states despite attempts over the years to dismantle these laws with start-ups of factory-owned stores to change the model, according to Mary Ann Keller, independent automotive consultant and auto business writer and former investment analyst and director on several auto company and dealership boards. Keller presented her thoughts about the franchise system in the U.S. market to auto industry members during the New York Automotive Forum that was co-sponsored by J.D. Power and Associates and the National Automotive Dealership Association (NADA).

Keller’s speech is excerpted:

A Little History about Corporations Trying to Change the Franchise Network

One myth promulgated in the 1990s has now resurfaced. Tesla wants to open factory stores to save money by reducing distribution expenses, which they estimate to be 30% of total expense—that percentage is nonsense.

Remember Ford’s ill-fated Auto Collection experiment? It proved conclusively as told to me by a retired Ford executive last week that corporate guys are not risk takers and they lack the entrepreneurial spirit that is required to manage dealerships.

Big corporations control from the top. Selling cars requires street smarts and adapting to local market conditions and competition. After a couple of years, Ford ended its experiment after its market share losses were too painful and there was mounting evidence that factory stores did not deliver customer satisfaction or reduce costs. Continue reading ›

Third-Party Automotive Websites Need to Satisfy New- and Used-Vehicle Shoppers

Arianne_Walker New

Arianne Walker

Third-party automotive websites with the highest overall satisfaction among both new- and used-vehicle shoppers have the highest advocacy and loyalty rates, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2013 Third-Party Automotive Website Evaluation Study.SM

We find a high correlation between overall satisfaction with a third-party site and the likelihood of shoppers recommending and returning to that site in the inaugural year of  measuring the usefulness of automotive third-party automotive websites during the shopping process.

Specifically, a more satisfying experience results in shoppers who report that they “definitely will” return to the website when shopping for a vehicle and that they “definitely will” recommend the site to friends and family. These return visits and positive word of mouth help increase exposure to the revenue-generating advertising on these sites. Continue reading ›

A Perspective on Real-Time Advertising

Jeremy Detgen3_v

Jeremy Detgen

When your job is to tweet or post about the Super Bowl on behalf of your company, you might anticipate responding to comments about your ad or commenting about exciting moments in the game, but when there is a 34-minute blackout the opportunities to be creative and react quickly are abundant.

The ability to respond to current events, such as the Super Bowl power outage, allows companies to take advantage of national or global events that cause people to talk online via social media. If companies join in this conversation, they have an opportunity to engage consumers in a unique, relevant and personal way.

According to a special report in Ad Age, some companies, like Bud Light and Speed Stick, bid on sponsored tweets with the keyword “power outage” so that their tweets were seen when the topic was searched for. Other companies, including auto brand Audi, responded with a witty text comment, “Sending some LEDs to the @MBUSA Superdome right now…” while Volkswagen posted their “Get Happy” Game Day commercial, saying “Lost power during the Big Game… Don’t worry, #Get Happy…” with a link to the specific Volkswagen Super Bowl commercial. Continue reading ›

A Quick Perspective: Big Wins Before the Big Game

Jeremy Detgen3_v

Jeremy Detgen

As has been the tradition in advertising, the annual Super Bowl is one of the most watched sporting events on TV, with the advertisements being as popular with some viewers as the game itself.

While this opportunity for high viewership has great potential, it comes at a great cost to advertisers. In contrast, social media has an even broader audience and is available at a much smaller cost. The hype of a “Super Bowl Commercial” can be transferred to online media and expanded over weeks of air time instead of being designated to one 30-second, $4 million spot as many auto brands have demonstrated this year and in past years.

Taking Super Bowl Ads to Social Media

Before the game, Ad Age noted the success of Toyota’s “Wish Granted” campaign that already had totaled over 11 million views across the Web the week before the 47th annual Super Bowl. According to Visible Measure’s Viral Video Chart, auto brands consist of the top three views of pre-released or teaser Super Bowl ads this year. Continue reading ›

Digital Advertising’s Reality Check—a Ford Case Study

Two digital media experts outlined key points about the effectiveness of online campaigns based on work done for Ford by Team Detroit on the second day of the recent Automotive Marketing Roundtable in Las Vegas, NV.

Geoff McHale, vice president of marketing solutions in the automotive sector with comScore, Inc. and Baylen Springer, senior . . . Continue Reading Digital Advertising’s Reality Check—a Ford Case Study

Mobile Isn’t Just Mobile, and Other Surprising Insights

Jonathan Sundberg

Last week, participants at our Automotive Marketing Roundtable at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, NV, had a chance to hear about results from a recent study of mobile video consumption that shows how consumers are gravitating toward whatever device is most convenient for them.

However, Ryan van Fleet, director of insights . . . Continue Reading Mobile Isn’t Just Mobile, and Other Surprising Insights

Roundtable Participants Hear Why Cadillac Focuses on Fastest Lap

Jeremy Detgen

It may be an “audacious ambition,” but Cadillac plans to become a global luxury brand, according to Don Butler, vice president of marketing for the Cadillac division of General Motors. It’s especially audacious since 95% of the luxury vehicles sold in the U.S. are from brands outside the U.S. Additionally, imports account for 80% of the U.S. market. However, Cadillac believes it is the “original” American luxury brand.

In a keynote speech at last week’s Automotive Marketing Roundtable (AMR) in Las Vegas, NV, Butler pointed out that Cadillac knew that if they wanted to become a global luxury brand, they would have to meet a higher standard. The 2009 Cadillac CTS-V proved they were up to the challenge when it set a single-lap record at the famed Nürburgring race course in Germany, becoming the fastest production vehicle in its class at its release.

Bold Marketing Sets Global Stage for Cadillac

Currently, the BMW 3 Series is the market leader in the Compact Luxury segment, which is an important segment because it is where most luxury buyers first enter the market, Butler said. Cadillac figured it would have to use innovative and bold marketing strategies to break through this segment, beginning with the product itself. Starting with the Cadillac ATS, the company knew they could take on their competitors. Continue reading ›

Social Media Insight: Learning Lessons from the Big Mac

Jeremy Detgen

McDonald’s Canada recently launched a very successful viral campaign consisting of several videos, according to a story in Advertising Age. One behind-the-scenes video has received over 6.9 million views on YouTube. The videos address concerns that customers have about the quality and healthiness of McDonald’s food. Customers have asked questions like “Why does it not look like it does in the picture?” These videos aim to answer basic questions in an effort to be more transparent and authentic.

Authenticity in any industry is essential when building a social media campaign. While this campaign was a great success, another campaign from McDonald’s USA attempted to promote authenticity and conversation through social media, with disastrous results. The USA campaign initiated conversations on Twitter, prompting customers to share their positive experiences. Although positive stories were the intent, numerous tweets with the campaign hashtag (#McDStories) were used to describe horrible experiences with McDonald’s.

Up and Down Lessons from a Fast Food Giant

So how can the auto industry learn from a fast food company? The most obvious lesson learned from this case study is that social media has great potential, but also presents a risk of losing control over what consumers might say. The Ad Age article Why McDonald’s Canada Social-Media Success Worked for the U.S. suggests that the Canadian campaign did not give people a chance to “trash” it by disabling comments on YouTube, whereas on Twitter, the conversation was completely open. It is valuable to allow comments, but a brand must understand that there may be some criticism and controversy. The key is to manage the conversation, not control it. Continue reading ›

Nissan Faces Off with Social Media—Too Big to Ignore

A marketing campaign for the 2013 Nissan Altima midsize sedan recently kicked off with several TV spots, print, direct and web banner ads in addition to promotions on Facebook and other social media. This is just the beginning. Nissan North America plans to launch five new models during the next 15 months with a . . . Continue Reading Nissan Faces Off with Social Media—Too Big to Ignore