Don’t Miss Out On Auto’s Ad Shift To Digital

As a sales manager, do you know what steps you need to incorporate now to make sure that your sales pros are properly positioned to take advantage of the advertising shift to digital products? The answer lies in four categories: people, knowledge, products and return on investment.

Did you see the latest Automotive Advertising Outlook report from Borrell Associates? In it, dealers are forecasted to spend $32.8 billion on advertising this year, a 2% increase over last year. Sales are up 8% year to date. The next statement is the most telling: “For the first time, new and used-car dealers will spend more on online media than on all other media combined — including TV.” In 2013, online spending is trending 18.7% higher.

Don’t believe the report? Last week, a partner station GSM told me the story of a local car dealer in his market with a $1.4 million advertising budget. The dealer spent 45% or $630,000 of that $1.4 million in online/digital advertising. How much of the dealer’s digital budget did the station get? Zero.

According to Borrell, there are 31% fewer car buyers in the funnel, compared to five years ago, thanks to the growth of digital. Additionally, the buying cycle has compressed from six months to three months. The report concludes: “The dreamers are gone; nearly everyone who shows up at a dealership already knows the make, model and price of the vehicle they want to buy.”

As a broadcast or cable television sales manager, what steps do you need to incorporate now to make sure that your sales pros are properly positioned to take advantage of the advertising shift to digital products? The answer lies in four categories: people, knowledge, products and return on investment.


Often when visiting stations I hear seasoned sellers reminiscing about the good old days when sales management expected sales of one thing — TV commercials. Do you have any of these nostalgic AEs on your staff? If so, the first step to digital sales success is to help these individuals understand that digital is not going away.


Convergent sales are now the way of the media world and if AEs cannot get on board and get enthusiastic about selling multiple platforms then it may be time to release them for better opportunities.


Too many digital sales are missed as a result of a seller’s lack of knowledge about the multiple digital platforms in their sales tool box. As a sales manager, it is up to you to educate the team on the available products.

Teach your AEs to listen for client needs and to recognize how the multiple platforms can be used to solve these needs. Spend time discussing the push and pull abilities of digital and TV and how much more powerful the results for advertisers can be when the power of digital and television are combined.

To that end, make it a rule that every presentation must include digital. In today’s advertising environment, I cannot think of a situation when digital inclusion is not warranted.


Your office may have many offerings capable of retargeting, site optimization, reputation management, search engine marketing, etc…but mobile is the way to a car dealer’s heart, and wallet.

A dealer’s mobile website should not be a smaller version of the dealer desktop site. Why? Because mobile users want to connect with the dealer fast. Many times the tire kicker is standing on the lot using a dealer’s mobile site to gauge unit price and selection.

A mobile site that contains robust desktop-like features will slow the content load and will distract consumers. By the way, if it takes more than a thumb to navigate a mobile site, consumers will leave the site and redirect to something more navigation friendly.

Finally, make sure to pay special attention to creatively driving leads to the dealer’s own website. Nearly every dealer will tell you leads to their own website are the most coveted leads. The benefit is that potential buyers on a dealer’s site are looking only at the dealer’s inventory vs. a third-party site that provides an opportunity for consumers to compare a dealer with their competitor’s inventory.


Too many times a car dealer will cancel a station’s digital contract because it can’t attribute any sales to the effort. Third-party sites like Auto Trader and are successful because they can translate the dealer’s spend into unit sales. They do this through access to dealer analytics.

To stop digital contract cancellations and to build a bit of renewal insurance, train your sellers to have consistent conversations with dealer decision makers on sales expectations and return on investment models. Tie your platforms into dealer analytics to get credit for sales.

If you platforms cannot do so or the dealer won’t share access, then you need to determine alternative ways to measure ROI. Doing so provides tangible results and a reason for continued long-term investments in your digital offerings.

On Nov. 12, we’re going to show your AEs how to capitalize on digital auto dollars during a nationally televised Two-and-a-half-hour satellite conference, “Driving New Automotive Revenue: Cracking The Code Of The Digital Dealer.” Learn more about it here or call 941-926-SELL to discuss multiple-office discounts.

John Hannon is the EVP-COO of Jim Doyle & Associates, a national sales training and marketing consulting firm that provides broadcast and cable companies with customized media-specific programs and tools to increase revenue and improve sales team effectiveness.

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