Autobytel Opens Doors With Data
Autobytel is developing advertising and marketing programs that will give automakers like Ford and General Motors (GM) direct access to consumers across its network of Web sites, according to Mark Sterling, the online marketing company's director of advertising business operations.
As part of a suite of products being developed for the 2010 season, the online automotive marketing services company will launch a lead generation tool. Consumers looking for a price quote would receive a confirmation, giving the automakers an opportunity to send a direct message to the person about local programs across the company's network. Those sites include autobytel.com, autoweb.com, autosite. com, car.com, carsmart.com and myride.com.
These marketing campaigns are made possible by tapping into ad automation software, AdBook, from FatTail, which enables Autobytel's creative department to provide better customer service and refocus resources to work on more complex and creative marketing projects for automakers. The software provides access to data and metrics, and eliminates many manual processes and redundancies, replacing them with automated routines.
Autobytel had relied on Excel to store and review ad information, but became unwieldy and unusable as the number of ads and the amount of data grew. Workflow processes were manual and approval processes were based on paper copies, which required employees to walk around the office for the necessary signatures. Populating ad servers was manual and required redundant data entry.
AdBooks gave employees instant access to data and information. It automated workflow processes managed through email and online task notifications. For example, when advertisers close their books at the end of the month, they submit final delivery information. Autobytel must process and organize this information and compare it against ads that ran, Sterling says. "We then pull together reports of how much revenue we realized, and how much we need to bill each customer," he says. "Before FatTail, that took us between six and seven days at the end of the month. Now we can do it in a day and a half."
Autobytel signed the contract with FatTail in October 2007, deploying the technology in January 2008. Goals were prioritized, expectations set and the technology delivered methods to make the company more efficient.
FatTail also helps Autobytel comply with Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) requirements. The software monitors workflow, providing the necessary checks and balances, as well as validations to ensure compliance. Reports that are processed for the proper approvals are done before a campaign goes live.
Now, the sky's the limit (if even in jest). "We're planning on taking over the automotive space," Sterling says, jokingly. "We're going to put Yahoo, AOL, Edmunds, and Kelley Blue Book out of business."