New media are just one more conduit in a changing automotive marketing world, according to panelists at TVB’s annual conference.
New media may be the buzz phrase saturating the media and advertising worlds right now, but for automotive marketers, all those Web sites, mobile programs and other new vehicles are simply a conduit to accomplishing a single goal: forging a one-to-one relationship with consumers. That was the upshot of a panel session at the Television Bureau of Advertising’s Annual Marketing Conference yesterday.
For TV stations, the emphasis on one-to-one marketing couldn’t be better news, because it is stations, with their local news, on-air talent and community roots that can help marketers connect, panelists said. Jim Farley, vice president of marketing for Toyota Motor Sales, who spoke via videotape, described how he could see local TV helping the Asian auto giant further one of its top priorities: selling trucks to outdoorsmen. “Stations know where men 25-54 go bass fishing. They know where they hang out and they know which barbecue they’re likely to attend.”
Stations can not only help to create local events where consumers can sit in off-road vehicles or test drive them, they can amplify the experience by taping the events for a local TV show, Farley said. What’s more, stations can create content that integrates Toyota’s trucks. “If a station covers a bass fishing event, I want to be there, Farley said. “I want to work on that content with you and I want to run an ad in the show. I want to be part of the content, whether you are delivering it on a cell phone, a PDA or your local Web site.”
The need to market more effectively is vital in a changing car marketplace, where competition is white hot, said Dan Dembicki, business development manager for Polk North America. “Vehicle demand in the U.S. was its best ever last year, but it doesn’t feel like it,” he said. “It’s a very crowded product lineup in which companies are constantly competing with themselves.”
Dembicki drew gasps from the audience when he showed slides depicting the changing market shares, broken down by geographic region, for U.S., European and Asian manufacturers. Trends in vehicle registrations, which Polk tracks, show a much larger share for Asian manufacturers today than five years ago, and shrinking shares for domestic carmakers.
Local TV can serve as the centerpiece of a multiplatform campaign that uses the Internet and cell phones to drive “footsteps to dealerships and emails to dealers’ Web sites,” said Ann Marie Young, director of sales at WOOD/WOTV Grand Rapids, Mich., and WXSP. Her stations targeted newspaper classified dollars by creating a Web site for local car dealerships that not only offered information about cars, but enabled users to click on a dealer’s phone number listed on the site and be connected instantly to that dealership by telephone.
The key, Young said, is “getting to know the dealers and assessing their needs, so you can figure out how to drive those footsteps through that door.” After a dealer kept saying he used radio instead of TV because radio could get spots on the air more quickly, Young’s stations put its production team on the project. The team has relationships with the dealers, Young said, “and when an incentive program comes down from the manufacturer, they get right on it.”
The growing market for hybrids offers stations a particular opportunity, said Michael Maze, vice president and account manager for local broadcast at Zenithmedia North America. Hybrids are complicated and require more explanation than will fit comfortably in a 30- or even a 60-second spot. “We’ve looked at trying on a local level to get the idea out there,” he said. “One of the new technologies coming up that will be strong for us [on this front] will be video on demand because it allows us to show that long-form, extended content.”
One thing stations must be “acutely aware of,” Farley said, is the growing diversity of the American consumer base. “Toyota is now the No. 1 brand in the Hispanic market, and the youth Hispanic market is turning into a serious proposition,” he said.
The local TV community “needs to understand that the diversity market is changing quickly and becoming very important to us,” Farley continued, and added that here too, stations have an advantage. Ethnic viewers place more stock in local station personalities than other communities do, Farley said. “They relate to the local community. You have another opportunity there, and a bigger one, if leveraged properly, than other local media do.”