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Are Your In-Market Audiences Really Active Shoppers or Are You Getting Taken For A Ride?



Advertising has always been full of buzz words. Sometimes they are important. Sometimes they’re misleading. Sometimes they’re misused just because a media rep or advertising vendor wants to say something that sounds trendy and important.

There’s a relative new term that’s been introduced with the advent of the data marketing revolution. The term is “in-market.” And it’s all three of the above.

For automotive marketers, “in-market” should mean that their advertising is reaching people who are ACTIVELY in the process of shopping for a vehicle. The idea is that if the objective is to sell automobiles, it’s more important to talk to a person who wants to buy an automobile than to someone who just purchased or doesn’t intend to for quite some time.

Media reps and advertising vendors may emphasize that their strategies are aimed directly at consumers identified as “in-market.” That’s well and good, so long as they can tell you exactly what they mean. “In-market” can have a variety of definitions. For many vendors, “in-market” doesn’t always mean “actively shopping”.

So how do you tell if your media is reaching actively shopping, in-market car buyers or if a vendor is pulling one over on you?

For some vendors, “in-market” may mean that based on a demographic profile targeted, your advertising might reach someone shopping for a car. A small percentage of audience members might be actively shopping but the large majority of the demographic profile targeted won’t be.

Or, for other vendors, “in-market” may mean that based on predictive data like vehicle equity and lease expirations someone should be coming into market. However, the phrases “should be” and “definitely is” are two entirely different things.

Then, there’s vendors where “in-market” may mean they utilize anonymous 3rd party offline or online data to target audience members that display characteristics that they may be thinking about buying a car. It has the potential to be highly accurate but it’s often back-filled with useless audience information to bolster numbers for overall reach.

The problem with all of them is their identification strategies aren’t necessarily a true indicator of someone actively shopping for a new vehicle. At best, they are all educated ways to blindly throw darts at a small target on a very large wall. Each is just slightly more accurate than the precursors.

To really get to the heart of reaching active, in-market shoppers – automotive marketers have to get beyond the sales pitch and find out exactly what “in-market” means, and how each of their vendors proves it. To truly locate and target active in-market shoppers, it’s all about extremely accurate data that’s based on real-time activity. And, most marketing vendors don’t have access to it.

Below are four basic questions anyone can ask to get to the truth. A media vendor’s ability to answer them specifically, without a lot of rambling, will tell you whether “in-market” actually means real shoppers that turn into eventual customers or if they’re just utilizing a buzzword to keep up with trends.

Question 1: Where do you get your audience data? The idea is that if they can’t tell you their sources how are you supposed to know if they’re speaking the truth.

Question 2: How current is your data? The speed at which active car shoppers move can vary greatly between awareness, familiarity, consideration, and purchase. Data that’s more than a few days old can mean that it’s too old to utilize and produce effective results.

Question 3: How accountable do you hold your data providers? If a vendor doesn’t own the data they use then they have to be purchasing it from someone else. If they are, how do they hold their vendors accountable for good data that produces results.

Question 4: How do you measure performance for the data utilized? If the right data is being used then it should and can be measured. Any marketing vendor who says they use data to reach car shoppers should be able to tell you exactly what their data and strategies are producing towards the goals you’ve set.

Data-driven marketing has, in some ways, taken the already vague world of advertising and made it even less distinct. There are dozens of ways of reaching prospects, and they are at least that many levels of accuracy. The key to making sure that the marketing dollars spent provide the greatest return is in making sure audiences reached are the right ones and then choosing the most productive media. Then, it must be insisted that performance is based on real-world measurement—sales rather than audience. And now, because of the active in-market shopper data that’s available to everyone, it’s something every dealership should and can do.

Want To Successfully Navigate The Unknown Waters of Advertising Technology? Learn 3 Tips How.



Have you ever felt like the abundance of emerging marketing and advertising technology, gizmos, and strategies is a bit like being in a tsunami of information? Just as you get comfortable in one area, BOOM, there’s a new wave crashing down. As technology progresses, it’s inescapable as a marketer. The decision to make is do you want to navigate the waters head on in an ark or risk it in a life raft.

When it comes to automotive marketing, doing something different from what you know can be a bit uncomfortable. You may ask yourself things like, “Will it give my store an advantage? Is it cost effective? How much time will my team and I have to spend on it? What if it fails?”

But, it’s even more uncomfortable when you find out you’ve fallen way behind everyone else because you failed to progress and evolve. That’s why it’s imperative to seek out and embrace new marketing and advertising strategies in order to keep your message where your audience is going to see it. Even though there’s a lot to sort through, the benefits of adopting the right strategies can be awesome.

  • Today’s audiences can be more tightly targeted than ever before.
  • Ads can be specific to the viewer; so, the message is much better received.
  • Engagement, leads, and purchases can be tracked to the specific medium.
  • Less time, money, and effort is spent figuring out how to reach the right people and more time can be invested working on selling more cars.
  • For automotive marketers wanting to adopt emerging technology and media but not drown in the tsunami of information, we’ve compiled three things to always consider when getting started.
1. Know your audience and their media habits.

Although almost all dealers are already engaged in some sort of digital advertising, as much as 80% of their monthly advertising spends are still broadcast media specific. That, despite the fact that there are fewer viewers in news and fringe time – traditionally the favorite time slots of dealerships. According to the Pew Research Center, late night news has lost nearly a quarter of its audience over the last decade, and viewership in other fringe times is dropping. Considering the fact that only about 1 in 20 households reached will be in the market for a new car, dealership media buys are talking to a shrinking market, of whom, only a small percent are truly active prospects.

A profitable first step is to consider the alternatives based on knowing your audience’s behaviors and understanding the mediums where they spend the most time. Emerging technologies can solve both the audience size and the percentage of prospects problem by reaching targets who are currently in the market for an automobile. It’s a much smaller population, but with a much greater return on dollars spent.

2. Hold the medium accountable.

The objective of campaign marketing is to sell automobiles, and the media rep (whether digital or traditional) sitting across the desk or virtual meeting should have a good answer to one important question: How can we track the sales results of this investment?

Having an accurate answer to that question is essential to allocating your marketing dollars to the marketing that produces the best ROI.

And there’s a second question the media rep should answer: How do you make sure that you are pushing the right message to the right prospect? Is it spray and pray saturation coverage or are audience members actively in market shopping? The fact that the prospect is identified as being in the market isn’t enough. What is the prospect in the market for? How long have they been in market? And what is the source of the data?

Media accountability starts with a clear explanation of what the medium is going to do, and how it’s going to do it. It ends with an accurate accounting of the units sold through that medium. Anything less is simply a vendor asking the marketer to “trust me.”

3. Put your message where the buyers are.

On the average, the typical cable-enabled American home receives over 200 channels. And on the average, they watch less than 10% of them. While broadcast tv and cable viewership is dropping, it’s increasing on devices that can connect to video content (streaming players, game consoles, computers, tablets, and smart phones).

Increasingly, viewers are where traditional advertising is not. And that leads to another question that the media reps should answer: How will your dealership’s message get to viewers wherever they are? And, how will the media company make sure they’re getting your message to the right audience members at the appropriate time in their buying journey?

These are questions that some media representatives aren’t used to hearing. In some cases, you may even encounter a blank stare. Those who will be most helpful to you in navigating the change in the way marketing information is both transmitted and received will have a ready answer. It’s because that’s the way they’ve designed their programs.

It’s answers to questions like the ones above that will help automotive marketers clearly navigate the confusing waters of emerging advertising technology. By gaining those answers, you’ll be able focus on doing more of what works and quit doing what doesn’t. Your pipeline will be full and you can sell cars and that’s a pretty sweet deal!