It’s Time To Embrace Online Video As A Core Strategy

After spending the last several years working with numerous automotive brands as a certified digital advertiser provider, I still find it troubling that many dealers have yet to fully embrace digital video campaigns as part of a consistent go-to-market strategy.

It’s Time To Embrace Online Video As A Core Strategy

The facts are undeniable. People are hungry for more video. They would rather watch than read, and they retain messaging from video while they tend to forget the written word. The fact is that video allows a personal connection that can get someone genuinely excited about owning a new vehicle. Online video advertising is considered the number one ad format to drive brand and model consideration, so why isn’t the entire industry on board?

Make Video a Consistent Part of Your Plan

The time is now for dealers (and their OEMs and partners) to fully embrace online video as a core strategy. Dealers should develop a consistent mix of the Google’s DV360, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and Connected TV to reach prospects and owners each month. Custom content should be created for each platform with coordinated messages and targeting. Be sure to fully reach available prospects each month by spending a minimum on each platform. Utilize the power and benefits of each to gain the most value.

In addition, dealers should utilize dynamic inventory video ads as a way to complement their custom model campaigns and help promote specific VINs on the lots. These units are ideal for retargeting and influencing near-term buyers. Shoppers on Facebook who view the actual VIN images have shown to improve overall click through rates by 200% compared to basic newsfeed ads.

The Role of Video in Brand/Model Awareness

There is a misconception by many dealers that the model awareness portion of the customer journey is best handled at Tier 1. Perhaps that is true. However, it’s not happening the way it should because most brands can’t afford to advertise every model. I have been in the ad business for over 30 years in Detroit, and even I can’t name every model for every brand. How can we expect someone outside of the industry to know them all?

In addition, the continued growth of “cord-cutters” and “cord-nevers” makes it impossible to reach this emerging market of new car buyers with TV alone. And if it’s true that millennials will be responsible for nearly half of new car sales, dealers will be in trouble if they don’t find intelligent ways to promote their models to this audience. Micro-targeted online video campaigns allow dealers to affordably get their message out to the right audience on any screen where they are viewing content.

Video Drives Search Lift

Dealers should set aside a big enough search budget to represent their dealership and key models each month, while also maintaining a consistent level of online video advertising to meet key monthly sales priorities.

Search is about intent, and video is about creating demand. These two critically important channels complement each other exceptionally well. Video drives search lift at the model and dealership level, however, without awareness of the model or dealer, your search activity will be nominal.

Holistic Video Strategy

It makes sense for dealers to evaluate their digital video strategy in conjunction with their television advertising activities rather than with search or PPC expenditures. A “one-video” strategy that allocates budget funds to the appropriate mix of video platforms allows dealers to coordinate advertising messages and direct campaigns to the area of greatest need in the dealership. It also allows dealers to drive traffic to a common destination on their website that helps potential new buyers fully understand the vehicles’ features, benefits and current offers better than just pushing them to an inventory page.

Online Video Drives Store Visits

Until now, it has been difficult to fully correlate a store visit to someone who watched an entire dealer-specific model video ad. In partnership with Google (and their YouTube platform), UnityWorks set out to validate the power online video advertising has on store visits.

Over 300 dealers participated in a 60-day campaign for a single brand. Google was able to identify unique individuals who opted to view the in-stream ads on YouTube (with their location services enabled on their mobile phones) and then visit the dealership. This dealer advertising was placed in coordination with national sales event messages at the brand level. The 300-dealer campaign budget of just $1 million generated over 53,000 store visits.

This data point provides dealers with just another reason to make online video a part of their daily marketing activities.

Put a Premium on Video Expertise

Some dealers would prefer their search provider to also handle their video needs, which seems to make sense in theory but doesn’t function well in practice. Most dealer search providers (or even full-service dealer marketing agencies) lack one major capability – creating video content at scale. So, the agency either asks the dealer to provide the content or they outsource to another company for a mark-up fee.

Video content is a highly specific medium that requires an expert hand. Creating dealer-specific video campaign content for Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Amazon and Connected TV is different than placing a search buy or display campaign. That’s why there are very few companies that can provide platform-specific video content at scale. If you want to get the most out of your video campaign budget, use providers who are experts in the channel, not general practitioners.

Learn More: UnityWorks Dealer Video Overview

About the author

Tim Copacia is Executive Vice President of Strategic Development at UnityWorks. He is a former agency CEO and automotive pioneer in Digital marketing, CRM, Customer Experience Management and Data Driven Video Experiences. He has held executive level roles at BBDO, Wunderman/Young & Rubicam, Campbell Ewald and Ross Roy/InterOne Marketing Group. He has led multi-million dollar omni-channel marketing programs across all marketing tiers for several major OEMs. Email: